7 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas That Don’t Involve Gift Cards

by Dora Wang on Jun 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

7 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas That Don’t Involve Gift CardsEmployee recognition programs are vital aspects of a company’s success strategy — but the tired old gift card isn’t as inspiring as it was a decade ago. Now, more and more companies are linking employee recognition into their culture in fun, innovative ways.

According to SHRM/Globoforce and Aberdeen Group:

  • 60% of Best-in-Class organizations stated that employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance
  • Organizations with the most sophisticated recognition practices are 12 times more likely to have strong business outcomes
  • When companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement

If you want to be best in class, you need employee recognition. But if you want to stand out even more — and sometimes not even spend more money than you would on gift cards — you need creative employee recognition. Not sure where to start? These five fresh ideas on thanking your employees could ignite your own creativity.

1. Make sure their chores are handled: Say thank you to your employee by hiring a cleaning service to mop, vacuum, and dust their home or apartment. Or if they’re a car commuter, send their wheels to the shop to have it vacuumed, cleaned, and even detailed. This kind of reward takes a little something off their plate that no one really likes to do anyway. Especially helpful for those with little children at home.

2. Be the boss for a day: OK, so the employee can’t hire and fire people, but to recognize an achievement, trade offices with the award-winning worker. The manager will have to do all of the employee's day-to-day activities in a cubicle, whereas the recipient can put their feet up on the nice desk with the skyline view.

3. Get the popcorn ready: Reward someone on staff by giving them tickets to a movie they want to see in the theaters — and even splurge for the fancy VIP seats. Kick this award up a notch by telling them to see it during work hours. Who wouldn’t want an indulgent break?

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4. Cross something off the to-do list: Allow your recognized employee to drop a work task that they like the least — whether it’s calling a difficult client, drawing up a particular spreadsheet, or editing a project. For this time, you’ll do it for them.

5. Breakfast service: Take their favorite breakfast order from a local shop — coffee, breakfast sandwich, fruit, side of bacon, juice, the works — and make sure it arrives at their desk just as they arrive in for the day, and do it every day for one week.

6. Upgrade the office: How much time does an employee spend sitting in their desk chair? Reward them by upgrading to a comfortable, ergonomic model. You can even make it a rotating chair, moving around the office to each new recognized employee. For a little extra fun, decorate it with balloons and other colorful décor.

7. Hire fancy wheels: Send a limo to pick up your employee for the commute, and even see if you can’t get some orange juice and bagels in stock for the ride in the morning and a special treat after work. Everyone will love a chance to ditch rush hour traffic or avoid taking public transportation.

This is just a sampling of the innovative ideas you can try. Get creative and see how you can appreciate and motivate your employees.

The Effects of Employee Recognition & Appreciation Report by TINYpulse

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This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

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