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Top tips for running Reward and Recognition on a budget

The current times we find ourselves in, within this global pandemic, is an interesting one, especially for the economy and businesses alike. There seems to be a lot of uncertainties about what the future may hold, how businesses will ultimately be affected, both in the short term and the long term, as well as how this will go onto impacting employees. One of the key things which employees need is the feeling of safety, value and that they are indeed needed. However with this is mind, a lot of companies may be / are cutting back budgets and may be shifting monetary allocations to different areas of the business where they needed most.

With so much uncertainty around, ensuring that employees are recognised and acknowledged for their hard work is key to motivation, productivity and remaining part of the larger team, especially while organisations are still dispersed with many working from home. Having a limited budget for employee recognition is a common challenge amongst HR professionals and rightly so, especially now. Distinct from salary and benefits, recognition has an important role to play in motivating and engaging staff, and by properly recognising your employees’ achievements you can implement positive change in the workspace, reinforcing the culture and values of your organisation.

The good news is that it’s not just about money, and effective recognition doesn't need to break the bank. Below are some effective examples of informal recognition which all employees will value and appreciate. 


Say Thank You
One of the most genuine and effective ways to recognise one of your employees is through the most basic form of communication, by saying thank you for a job well done and for their hard work! It doesn't cost a penny and it can truly touch the heart of an employee if done authentically and meaningfully. Often, acknowledgement without all the bells and whistles says a lot, where one feels valued and thus, will be more engaged and motivated. Whether it's done on a Zoom call, in a hand written note, or at a (virtual) team meeting, a study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly. Thank You's can be done throughout the business, it doesn't always have to be top-down. A Thank You from a colleague in the same team, or an employee saying Thank You to a supervisor for a mentorship is invaluable. Thank You's can also be done privately 1-1, or in a social setting, be it on a Recognition Platform, Social Media, Yammer, an intranet or a staff newsletter. 

Work-related Awards
Another original way to recognise and reward your team members is to offer them work-related awards. These can be everything from extra day[s] holiday, flexible working for a dedicated period or by giving them additional responsibility on a particular project or task. For example, a manager can give an employee more autonomy in their role, they can manage more recruits on a project and so on. This lets them know that they have earned your trust and respect and this can be a powerful thing. A 2009 survey by McKinsey found that praise from management, leadership attention and having the opportunity to lead projects are more effective motivators than cash, pay rises or stock.

Learning and Development Awards
Awarding your team with learning and development opportunities is one of the most effective ways of supporting their long-term engagement in an organisation, as well as highlights that you recognise them as a holistic entity. There’s also been a lot of discussion amongst the HR profession about the fact that, for the millennial and Generation Z workforces in particular, having the opportunity for learning and development is more important than financial incentives when it comes to job satisfaction. This type of award may be particularly popular especially with a diverse and dispersed workforce, whereby each individual employee can benefit from their award in their own time / space. Employees may become increasingly grateful for the chance to upskill if there is any risk of impending redundancies and uncertainties of hat the foreseeable future holds, as this can go a long way to help with future job security. More so, whilst investing in training may incur an initial outlay, your business will ultimately benefit from the new skills that employees bring back into the organisation. For example, if someone in your Marketing department does a great job, you can reward them with a paid course in Design which they may love, and which could also benefit their role. 

Peer-to-peer Recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition is as important as recognition from leadership and it doesn’t have to cost a penny. Try allowing staff to nominate each other for non-financial awards. These can include things such as an extra hour in bed, a day off, or even a coveted parking space. Awards that reflect the tone and culture of your organisation, or a specific team, can be much more meaningful than financial rewards. Think also about the way in which these awards are presented, as this can feed into the overall culture of your business. Face-to-face presentations, even virtual gatherings, are one of the most effective forms of ‘social recognition’ so doing things like presenting scratch cards in front of the team is a good way of ensuring your recognition of their hard work is shared with the rest of their peers.

It's so important to remember the basics: employees are a company’s biggest asset, so taking the necessary time and effort to nurture and maintain company-employee relationships and what they can bring to the business are critical. It's so easy for companies to get bogged down in the ebbs and flows of day-to-day working, but taking time out to recognise, appreciate and say thank you to the team can go a long way, even more so when on a budget.

Employee recognition can help create a healthy company culture which encourages innovation. Download our free e-book to find out more about how to build an effective recognition strategy.

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