Showing gratitude to employees is essential, and a good and easy way to do it is with employee incentives that don’t cost money.

A good business leader should reward the employees when they deserve it. However, the reason why they often shy away from it is that it costs money. While one could argue that losing valuable employees is more expensive, there’s a middle ground. There are ways to increase motivation in the workplace that are free. With these employee incentives that don’t cost money, business leaders can make their employees feel valuable without breaking the bank.

Reasons to provide employee incentives that don’t cost money

Having your business transferred without delays was easy with the right company by your side. But someone else also took the burden of your relocation – your faithful employees.

Even if no significant changes have happened, your employees might have been doing their best for a while now. Through rewards, you get to increase productivity and show them you value them. Furthermore, you’re setting an excellent example for other employees by showing what values are important to your company. And since it’s so easy to show appreciation with cost-free employee incentives, there’s no reason not to do it.

Certificates of appreciation

This is a fantastic way to show your employees that you appreciate the work they’re doing. You can use this to recognize the achievements of teams or individuals. By recognizing your employees’ value in front of the whole company, they will see that you care. And it doesn’t have to be certificates; there are many options.

One way to help employees feel appreciated is by creating an appreciation wall. You can encourage each employee to say something nice about their colleagues anonymously. Here, you need to make sure that each of them gets an appreciation note, as otherwise, the effect might be counterproductive. Perhaps each of them should write a note to another one, until everyone has a nice positive note that states their values for the work environment.

Gift certificates

You might wonder how gift certificates can be free. Well, you could get the vendors you do business with to participate by donating gift certificates for their products or services. Then you can offer these certificates as incentives. It won’t cost you anything, and the employees will be happy with what they got. It’s also a good way for the vendors to advertise themselves, as employees will surely spread the word.

A simple “thank you” goes a long way

A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

There are many ways to say “thank you”: with a card, note, bouquet, or a gift. What’s important is the gesture and the meaning behind it. Sometimes, merely saying the words can mean more than you think. Some employers skip this, as they probably take any extra effort that the employee has put in for granted. Or it might be that they forget about it. Either way, the result could be the loss of a valued employee.

Another way to thank the employee is by sending a note to their family. After all, they’re also the ones taking the burden when the employee stays extra hours. My wife and I still talk about the flowers my boss sent to her after our first child was born. That meant a lot to us.

Showing public appreciation.

Sometimes, public recognition is the best way to honor the people that work for you. By saying “thank you” in front of other people, the employer shows that he/she cares about honoring the employee. Also, one option is to have an Employee of the Week (or month) program.

What’s important to mention is that the words of gratitude in public should not go without appreciation in private. Some employers have no problem praising their employees in public. However, behind closed doors, they can’t really show gratitude and might even do just the opposite. Remember to also take into account the DiSC® style of the employee. While most D and I employees will appreciate the public praise, many S- and C-style employees would rather have only the private praise.  Get to know your team, or public appreciation could backfire.

Offer the option of flexibility

Offer the option of flexibility.

If there’s something we have learned amid COVID-19, it is that flexibility is more important than we thought. Some employees might love working from home, while others, not so much. While not all employers could change the place of work during the pandemic, some had to offer this option to their employees.

Another flexible category is the work schedule. If your line of business can support this, many employees might appreciate this choice. In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink explains robust research evidence supporting this point that autonomy is a strong motivator.

Have a casual Friday.

For many businesses, Fridays are days when employees have the opportunity to dress down. If the nature of your business allows this, consider having a casual dress day, as the employees will feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Have a company picnic

Have a company picnic.

It might not be anything new, but there’s a reason why company picnics are popular. It can be an occasion where employees will have the opportunity to socialize and rest from everyday work. After changing their routine, they’ll feel refreshed for the next day of work.

Offer an extra day of vacation.

For some employees, this might be the best of all no-cost employee incentives you can think of. A day off with pay gives employees more freedom. However, this doesn’t cost the business financially any more than what’s already budgeted. On the rest of the days, the employees will be motivated to do their best. However, make sure to clarify whether the extra day can be carried over into the next year if not used.

Ask them what they would like.

One of the characteristics of effective business leaders is that they’re able to show appreciation. Great leaders also ask the employees about their opinions, especially when it’s related to their reward. This might not turn out to be among the employee incentives that don’t cost money, but you can try. Asking for input will show them they’re valued and that their opinion matters, and sometimes that’s enough. This is another area where knowing their DiSC® style will pay big dividends; you will learn how to tailor that conversation for every employee.

Please feel free to share with us a story of how you keep your teams motivated. And, give us a call if you want to discuss ways to make your organization more agile or help you personally navigate this difficult time; we’re only too glad to help.