As company culture evolves and employees become savvier about their workplace experience, the topic of recognition and reward is vital. Appropriate compensation for everyone is a must, but your employees are likely seeking more than just a paycheck.

Without question, employee engagement studies continue to point to manager and peer recognition as a highly motivating factor to perform. Evolved workplaces should be skilled at recognizing and praising while also holding employees accountable. If you haven’t made public praise a regular part of your work environment, the time is now. Aim for something more significant than a congratulatory email or hand-written note to your team. Consider a more permanent acknowledgment, such as a title change, a parking place, or upgraded office space for your star employee.

When you need to reward an employee at a time when budgets are tight, consider offering additional time off or flexible hours. When time and money are viewed equitably, this type of freedom is a perceived benefit. And assuming productivity doesn’t suffer, this is a win-win.
For the first time this past summer, Microsoft Japan tested a 4-day workweek. They were surprised and delighted to find productivity increase by 40%. They also shortened meetings and reaped additional and unexpected benefits. Read more about their experiment here.

Rewarding your employees with tuition reimbursement or further training is another perk that can benefit your organization. When your company invests in an employee’s education, it sends a message you care about your employees beyond the transactional relationship. Additionally, some types of educational reimbursement may be tax-deductible to your company.
While tuition reimbursement can be a significant benefit, it is essential to identify and communicate parameters, limits, and guidelines. Many companies that offer tuition reimbursement see additional ROI by attracting and retaining high-quality employees and a noted boost in workplace morale. Also, a great idea to check in with your employee following training; How did it go? What can you share? Anything we can implement?

You might also consider getting your team together for a group outing where you can all volunteer on a project together. If this is not practical, consider providing time off – a half-day, perhaps – where your team can volunteer for their favorite cause. This also speaks to your connecting on a level beyond ‘things’ and money. You are using your resources to contribute to something important to your employees. This is indeed a reward and may go a long way toward building trust within your team.

Meaning Beyond Money
If you have the means to reward your employees with cash, get creative. While no one will ever turn down a cash bonus, a meaningful gift could contribute to your culture of appreciation. As you get to know your team, consider things they might enjoy – dinner at a favorite restaurant, a good book, a nice bottle of wine, or something along those lines. Merely engaging on this level could be more of a motivator than the gift itself.

Rarely is there a wrong way to reward exceptional employees. Your careful consideration and thoughtful ideas about rewards serve as intentional tools to build positive company culture. Let your team know that you care, and you are invested in them.


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