Real Rewards That Make Your Employees Really Productive

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Unless you employ a team of altruistic superheroes, your employees can definitely work better, harder, and faster. However, almost none of them will — unless you give them a good reason to.

While engagement tactics might be effective at keeping your workers around longer, engagement doesn’t always help make your employees more productive. Instead, you need to reward them for good, hard, fast work to encourage them to do the best they can. Called extrinsic motivation, rewards can come in many shapes, sizes, and stripes — and here are a few of the best.

Bonuses

Everyone wants to make more money, and handing over cash to specific employees at strategic times can work wonders for the entire team’s motivation. Still, you must be incredibly careful with your use of cash bonuses; if you hand them out like clockwork, employees will start to expect them and become frustrated and unproductive if they don’t appear. Bonuses are powerful rewards, and you shouldn’t abuse them. In most cases, one of the following alternatives will suffice.

Flex Time

Schedule-related issues are some of the most common reasons for reprimands in workplaces around the world. Workers who can’t manage to get in on time, leave early, take long lunches, or frequently call out are perhaps the biggest drain on business time and resources, but nearly all workers crave the flexibility to come and go when they please. That’s what makes flex time such a valuable reward; every employee, from single millennials to grandparent baby boomers will work especially hard to earn a few hours off.

Free Lunch

Economics consistently tells us there is no such thing as a free lunch, and it’s true: Workers who earn a company-comped meal had to put in extra effort to earn their midday food. Still, studies on workforce motivation have found that employees who receive free snacks and meals every so often feel more valued by their employers. Acknowledgement of appreciation leads to engagement and higher productivity, so you shouldn’t be afraid to whip out the company card when one of your team does something you like.

Gift Cards

Like a mix between cash and free lunch, a gift card to an employee’s favorite food place is a personal reward the worker is sure to use. Whatever the employee purchases with the card is immediately more special thanks to the accomplishments they made to achieve it. Plus, it is more tactful to publicly announce the reward and proffer the gift card than to present the worker with a cash bonus in front of his or her co-workers.

Relaxed Rules

Many workplaces these days are going without rules about dress code and device usage to help reduce stress and improve engagement, but not all businesses can or want to eliminate such rules. If your office remains relatively formal, you might reward your team by relaxing some of the strictest workplace regulations. For example, you might institute a casual Friday or allow a particularly productive employee to listen to music through headphones. As long as the company’s brand isn’t affected by the changes — and work continues to be top-notch — bending the rules won’t hurt.

Company Swag

Even small startups tend to produce brand-covered swag, like T-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, and more. If you don’t already hand out swag to your employees, you can use those promotional products as cheap and easy rewards. Swag items are particularly good as basket-fillers, surrounding a more valuable reward.

Actual Awards

While his execution might not have been ideal, Michael Scott’s Dundees Award Ceremony actually wasn’t a terrible idea. Tangible recognition awards are physical tokens of praise and appreciation that workers can keep for the rest of their lives. Awards can sit on office desks as mementos of accomplishments past and motivators for future achievements. It may seem silly to hold an award ceremony, but handing out certificates and trophies is smart.

Charitable Donation

The public is more socially conscious than ever, which means your business should be willing to support local communities to attract key demographics. Your employees, too, are likely interested in activities that improve the world around them, and many likely support specific charities with volunteerism and donation. You can take advantage of this behavior by helping your magnanimous workers support their causes when they behave favorably. However, it is important to note that not all employees will feel motivated by charitable donation; you should know for certain that your benevolence will be met with excitement before you donate.

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