51 Ways to Reward Employees Without Money

Sure, many companies feel strapped right now and may duck their head and run in the other direction at the mere mention.
March 22, 2011

Many companies feel strapped right now and may duck their head and run in the other direction at the mere mention of bonuses. But tough times don’t mean that you shouldn't reward your employees. There are many ways that you can reward employees without handing them money. Many are things you can do right now, with very little effort.

Here are a whopping 51 employee rewards you can give that don’t include cutting a check.

  1. Let the employee dump the one project they like least to you.

  2. Use of the president’s office for a day.

  3. The front parking spot.

  4. A handwritten thank you note.

  5. Name the conference room or lounge after them.

  6. Inviting their spouse in for a lunch on the company.

  7. A reserved parking spot.

  8. A video game for the employee to give to their child.

  9. A vacation day.

  10. Brand-new desk, chair, or other piece of office furniture.

  11. Bouquet of flowers.

  12. Prepare a short video montage that celebrates the employee’s accomplishments.

  13. A public thank you.

  14. Send a birthday card to them at their home address.

  15. Pay for them to take a fun class, such as cooking or skydiving.

  16. Find something they like to collect, such as stamps or coins, and give them one for their collection.

  17. Let them suggest a way they would like to be recognized.

  18. Write a note to their family, sharing how important the person’s contribution to the company has been. 

  19. Keep the break room stocked with their favorite drink or snack.

  20. Buy them tickets to a concert, show or other event.

  21. Give them a small gift card from their favorite store.

  22. Pick up a book or CD for them by their favorite author or artist.

  23. Pick up the tab for them to have a family portrait taken.

  24. Pay for their child to go to camp.

  25. Buy a few extra boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from their daughter.

  26. Give them a pair of movie tickets.

  27. Help them with gas prices by giving them a gas card.

  28. Provide them with a formal letter of appreciation for their personal file.

  29. Create a “day pass” that they can turn in to take any day off, no questions asked.

  30. Find a deal on a couple of three-day cruise tickets and set them up with a short vacation.

  31. Allow them to be flexible with their hours.

  32. Let them choose one day a week to work from home.

  33. Have a birthday cake delivered to the office on their birthday.

  34. Get each employee to write something positive about the person on a piece of paper, and give them the box of collected sayings, or frame them for the employee.

  35. Start a company “Wall of Fame” and add them to it.

  36. Find out what they are passionate about and give them a gift that relates to it.

  37. Create and give them an award that they can keep and frame for a job well done.

  38. Surprise them with an outdoor catered picnic.

  39. Have a mobile car wash come to the business and clean their vehicle.

  40. Get them a subscription to their favorite magazine.

  41. Pay for a membership in a trade association of their choice.

  42. Have a staff appreciation day once a month to provide them with a catered lunch.

  43. Give them and their colleagues a catered breakfast.

  44. Give them a new, improved job title.

  45. Provide them with some one-on-one mentoring.

  46. Institute a "playtime," where employees can play games or shoot some baskets.

  47. Host an annual award ceremony and give awards to employees for their contributions.

  48. Celebrate the anniversary of their joining the company.

  49. Allow them to dress casually on Fridays.

  50. Have a massage therapist come to the office once a month and give a massage.  

  51. Create a relaxation room, where the employee (and other people you are rewarding) can go during the day, to read or even play a video game on their break.