6 Non-Financial Ways to Reward Employees for Great Work

April 07, 2015

Small business owners know that happy employees can often mean a productive, profitable company. Positive reinforcement is the best way to keep up employee productivity and morale. According to the Wall Street Journal, recognition of employee accomplishments also helps to reduce turnover. A raise or bonus is a great way to recognize good work, but it can be a challenge to reward employees when money is tight. As part of financial literacy month, here are six ways to reward employees when you can’t—or shouldn't—give raises.


Give a day off. You can let them choose the day, or, if the employee tends to roll over their vacation from one year to the next, be more direct. Telling them, “Take a week from Tuesday off,” may be more effective than giving them an extra day to add to the sixteen they already have.


Send a company-wide email. Acknowledging individual accomplishments to the whole company has two advantages: you praise the employee who is being recognized, and you may also incentive others to strive for the same recognition. Make sure the email mentions specifically what the employee did to earn the mention.


Let the employee work from home. If the job allows it but it’s not company policy for employees to work from home, you can use it as a perk for those who put in extra effort when they’re in the office.

handwritten note

Send a handwritten note. Taking the time to sit down, write a note and send it through the mail has become a rarity. Sending a note to an employee that describes how their actions or efforts benefited the company can be very meaningful. Some employers send letter to the employee’s family, telling them how much they appreciate the employee’s efforts.


Have the team volunteer for a non-profit organization. Let the employee you want to recognize choose their favourite non-profit, and schedule a team volunteer project. This is a great way to thank your employee while also building overall team morale.

trade tasks

Trade tasks. Let employees trade projects other staff members (assuming they’re qualified, of course) or, even better, let them offload an undesirable project to you.

Recognize employees when they deserve it, rather than on a set schedule. Employees expect to get feedback on their performance during their annual review, but praising them at random times throughout the year is more impactful. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing three employees in one month and none the next, if that’s what their accomplishments dictate. Keeping your eye out for employees who deserve some recognition and using these cost-effective methods can help you boost productivity, morale and retention without spending a dime.