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How to recognise your employees’ efforts on any budget

Thursday October 10, 2019


Posted on: Thursday October 10, 2019

They say the best things in life are free. But what about when it comes to employee recognition? For companies and HR professionals, budgeting for employee recognition can be a bit of a minefield. Some employers like to use extravagant rewards to motivate employees - but is this really what their people want? Or is the old saying true in the world of reward too?

Surveys tell us that money isn’t everything, so we’ve pulled together a list of the most effective rewards to make your employees feel valued whilst still being budget-friendly for you.

Handwritten notes

Whether this be peer to peer or employer to employee recognition, a thank you note will always go a long way. Not only is this a free and simple way to show your gratitude, but it shows the other person you took the time to write it in a card instead of simply sending an email. Douglas Conant, who served as CEO of the Campbell Soup Company for 10 years, turned the business around by putting the focus back on the people who worked there, and in his time there wrote out over 30,000 handwritten "thank-you" notes to his staff. This gesture may be small in the grand scheme of things, but it can definitely make a difference. Not just to individuals, but to your whole workplace culture.

Flexible working hours

Time is precious – and giving employees flexible working hours instead of offering a meal out or free cinema tickets is very effective, as people can then choose to spend their time however they chose. This can be as simple as letting your employees come in later one day a week to drop their children to school or letting them leave early to pick them up on their way home, but it can really help give them peace of mind and also potentially save them money on things such as childcare. In addition, as a reward you could offer a day to work from home or leave the office early on a Friday evening to miss the traffic rush.

Recognition awards

Some employees like to feel recognised by other members of the business, which is why having value awards is a great way of rewarding employees for free. Having a quarterly 10-minute awards ceremony to celebrate the hardest workers not only allows for company appreciation but allows employees to celebrate with their peers.


A creative culinary touch or a free meal rarely goes unnoticed in an office. Whether you offer to cook lunch for a colleague, bring in home-made brownies, or even just bringing in your team breakfast in the morning – this is a low cost way to brighten up the office and show gratitude. At D2L, employees have a ‘Cake Day’ at the start of each month, which is an opportunity for individuals and teams to take a quick break and recognise their colleague’s passion and contributions. This is a fun and great way to build team morale and promote a hearty and inspirational working culture.

Helping hand

Sometimes all we need is someone to take a load off, and offering to take a task off of someone’s hand for the day can be the best way to recognise someone’s value to you. This not only gives you the chance to really get involved with others but could make a big difference to someone’s working day.

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