Bet your bottom dollar you vividly remember any public recognitions of personal achievement or proclamations of triumph, big or small. Whether a happy-face sticker in pre-school, the principal announcing your perfect attendance at an assembly, or receiving unexpected (good) publicity about your shop: Being recognized for little – or not-so-little – accomplishments are worth their weight in gold. Those distinctive moments may’ve even changed your life in meaningful ways. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting atta-boys/girls for a job well done – especially if they include some type of compensation or public acknowledgment. As a small shop owner, you probably want to recognize employees’ performance, but may have limited financial resources or no idea how to even start. Coming up with creative ways to keep the troops happy is appreciated and may be easier than you think.
Before determining that it’s time to demonstrate how much you care about your remarkable staff, keep in mind the reasons for doing this. Those reasons should be to: engender loyalty, arouse team spirit, motivate performance, and create a positive workplace where people feel successful and valued. Admittedly, underneath that is a more selfish motive: To help meet business goals so your shop succeeds.
Acknowledging above-and-beyond employees isn’t simply money talks because, studies show, workers may actually prefer other types of appreciation. Here are some ideas to inspire and give effective employee rewards, as well as a few snares to avoid.
What to Emphasize
Make sure to clearly identify explicit actions you seek to reward so employees know what they’re striving for. Rather than a vague “general job performance,” reinforce achieving specific sales goals, impeccable customer service, rousing staff with positive leadership, stirring team spirit, providing helpful business suggestions, maintaining over-and-above responsibility, etc.
It’s essential to get staff “buy-in,” and willingness to participate, or it will undoubtedly fall flat. To help with that, turn it into a group endeavor, asking what types of rewards would help persuade participation. Be open about budget constraints to encourage workable ideas. Put together a suggestion box so they can submit proposals. Have a form employees can fill out when they notice another worker doing something noteworthy. Or, have an annual secret ballot vote to elect an employee for work well done.
Rewards on Budget
Although it’s traditional to reward exemplary employees with bonuses or raises, there are other ways you can reward as well. Many workers prefer a more personal “thank you,” being singled out in front of coworkers, or other forms of special recognition.
Give expanded opportunities or entrust them with additional responsibilities is the sincerest form of flattery. Suggestions: Accompany you to a trade show; sit on a panel discussion at a trade conference; represent you at a chamber event; mentor another employee; give advice with purchasing decisions; challenge them to come up with unique display ideas; compose a blog, etc. Make sure to set up a computerized chart to keep track of things you observe – it’s all too easy to forget.
These suggestions are meaningful statements that show you value and trust them and could be all the recognition they need – as long as it doesn’t come across as just additional workload.
Another form of recognition is giving public exposure: to staff, to customers, on social media or to others in the field. This can include announcing sales quotas reached, bragging out-of-their-way customer service, or gushing about doing the ‘grunt work’ no one else undertakes. Take this employee to lunch; create an employee-of-the-month parking space; post their name on an “Employee Wall of Fame” or engraved plaque; rave about them on social media. Friendly competition can inspire wonders!
Express gratitude with something as simple as a personal thank-you note. Or, provide perks such as allowing flexibility in their schedule (start earlier or leave earlier), which can help with family/work balance. It’s never tacky to give a gift certificate from your own shop or notice what they’ve been eyeing and gift it to them. Offer to babysit so they can take a much needed date-night. Notice an unfulfilled desire and provide it, i.e. a pass to that yoga class they’re drooling over; a stress relieving spa day; a box of fresh donuts. Even practical gifts, such as pre-paid gas cards to help with their work commute, will be treasured.
Don’t forget to have commemorations acknowledging years of service or other significant milestones. A surprise pizza delivery at the end of the day with the entire staff celebrating could be all it takes. Make it fun and it’s guaranteed that others will strive for their own special party!
Make sure everyone has an equal chance; treat each employee fairly and don’t play favorites. Be consistent in how rewards and recognition are handled. Try to not give awards to the same person repeatedly, making sure this program doesn’t turn into a teacher’s pet contest. You can avoid snares by making sure you clearly spell out what the rewards are based on, what criteria is used to choose winners, and how everyone is eligible.