Finding Different Ways To Reward Employees

Have you ever agreed to a staff request for a higher salary on the basis that it would encourage and motivate them to work harder and smarter, then find that it didn’t have the desired effect?

Even though many people will say that money is their key motivator, it’s surprising how little real difference it makes to attitude and motivation. Frederick Hertzberg said that money is a ‘hygiene factor’; that is, it acts as a demotivator if it’s lacking, but only a short-term motivator at best when it is given as a reward.

More times than not, what is more important to staff are such intangibles as being appreciated for the work they’ve done, being kept informed about things that affect them and having a sympathetic manager who takes time to listen to them. None of these intangibles are very costly, but they all do take the time and thoughtfulness of a manager who cares.

How can you provide frequent and personal rewards that are aimed at not just improving their job satisfaction, but also allow the individual to tap into their creativity and actually enjoy the rewards of working?

Take time to find out what specifically motivates and excites each of your team members. Personalised motivation seems to gain more response because people like to feel that they are getting individual attention, rather than just being part of a team effort.

When one of your employees has put in extra effort on a key project or achieved a goal you had mutually set, immediately recognise the achievement in a unique, memorable way. You will find that the more creative and unique you are with the reward, the more fun it will be for the employee, yourself and others in the organisation.

I heard of one manager who wrote to a team member’s family, telling them of his achievement. It was received very well at his home, as his family realised how much he was appreciated at work.

Another company had their MD sit down once a month with the employee of the month, at a special lunch, and discuss how the employee had contributed to the success of the company with their attitude and achievements. The employee always felt respected and honoured to have that privilege.

If you work in a large organisation, drop your CEO or COO a quick email outlining what the employee has achieved, and ask them to give the employee a call to congratulate them.


If the team member has a specific hobby, maybe buy a small gift that relates to that hobby. That would be received far better than the equivalent amount of money in their pay packet.

I heard of one manager who treated staff members to a complete valet of their car, inside and out, in recognition of great performance. It showed how important the little things were to that company.

If the budget stretches that far, take the team out for a special lunch to say thanks for all their efforts. Join them on an evening event, like a trip to the theatre or bowling. Not only will it build the team up, but they will also feel recognised for the role they play.

Have an ‘Excellence Day’ where team members show their skills at their favourite hobby. Create a fun day so that everyone can share their skill and knowledge. Devise a fun quiz and then order lunch in, so everyone can enjoy contributing and gaining at the same time.

These ideas and hundreds of others like them are limited only by your imagination, time and creativity. Not only will such rewards uniquely single out exceptional employees, they will create a positive story that the employees will tell to others time and time again. Friends, family and colleagues will get to hear about each individual’s achievement and what the company did to celebrate it, and the employee will get to relive the recognition many times.

Rewarding employees for exceptional work they’ve done is critical to keeping them motivated to want to continue to do their best. Although money is important, you can potentially get even more benefit from such personal, creative and fun forms of recognition as discussed above. Try such rewards for yourself to see the pride, enthusiasm, fun and motivation that can be generated.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 10 January, 2011

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