Rewarding your top employees without breaking the bank

As a small-business owner, I recognize the importance of rewarding employees who perform well and exceed expectations. I appreciate their contributions and want them to know I'm grateful.

Unfortunately, my budget can limit financial rewards. So I was after some ways I could thank my employees without having to shell out a great deal of extra money, and that's when I stumbled across this great article from Inc.

It got me thinking about how else I could let my employees know that I appreciate their efforts.

Here's what I came up with:


Initiate a program

A formal recognition and reward program is a great way to continually encourage your employees to perform well and ensure they're satisfied with the job and work environment.

"The goal of any rewards program should be to engender loyalty and team spirit and have a good workplace where people feel appreciated," said Nancy M. Cooper, chair of the labor and employment group of Garvey Schubert Barer. "It's also likely to help you meet business goals especially with small to mid-sized employers."

Consider what you think should be rewarded. Ask for input from your staff. And discuss your options as a team to ensure the program is something everyone will appreciate.

By rewarding specific activities or behavior you'll help bolster your business.

Set up peer recognition

While it's always nice for the boss to recognize his or her team's efforts, it's sometimes equally as effective for an employee's peers to notice and praise the extra effort they've put in. Encourage everyone to send one another notes, or send out a newsletter with personalized accolades from other colleagues.

Offer new challenges and education

Another way to let an employee know you appreciate their work is by demonstrating your trust in them. Providing them with new jobs or more responsibility may be a good way to let them know you recognize their hard work. If this appeals, take a look at the piece I write about entreployees.

"I've heard a lot of people say they were given a new responsibility or they were taking on another customer as a new challenge," Cindy Ventrice, author of Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works, told Inc. magazine. "People have to be aware that the underpinning of recognition is a respectful relationship."

It's also important to offer your staff learning opportunities . This is not only an opportunity to reward them and help them further develop professionally, but their improved skills will help them provide even better service to your clients.

Investing in improving your workforce is a win for everyone.

Expose top employees to other industry professionals

Professional recognition is important to many employees. Help your top employees make professional connections. This demonstrates your faith in their performance and gives them an opportunity to build a professional connection.

Or - write a recommendation on their LinkedIn profile.

Allow for flexibility

With the Internet, a great deal of work can be done remotely. If your business model allows, consider rewarding employees with flexible work-from-home options, noted HR World.

If that isn't feasible, think about allowing your top performer to come in a little later or leave a little earlier when the business schedule allows. Let your best staff members build a schedule that fits their needs and it could further elevate their work.

Are there any other alternate ways you use to reward your best employees? Let me know in the comments.