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16 Ways to Show Employee Appreciation Without Breaking the Bank

Few people would argue that times have changed, especially when it comes to business. People no longer work for the company offering just the biggest paycheck. Nowadays, a myriad of factors go into a decision of which company to work for, and one often topping the list is recognition.

Sure, top talent still want a competitive wage, but 55 percent of people would jump ship for an employer that recognizes their contributions in the workplace. In fact, 70 percent of companies with recognition programs experience higher retention rates than those without.

If you want to retain your top performers — or add to their ranks, for that matter — you need to find ways to recognize staff on a regular basis. And the following are some of the more affordable options smart companies are now using to show employees how much they value their work: 

1. Time off

Everyone enjoys a little extra time off, even more so when it doesn’t count against his or her PTO. If you can swing it, give your team a half-day from time to time. And consider scheduling it on Fridays or before holidays for extra long weekends.

2. Flex time

Depending on the hours of operation, offering employees some flex time, where they set their own hours, may be an option. This doesn’t reduce the total number of hours worked, but allows some flexibility to accommodate for personal matters. 

3. Holiday hours

Most people take it a little easier during the holidays — be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the Fourth of July. Institute holiday hours to give staff the break they need. Or, kick it up a notch, and consider trying summer hours this next year. 

4. Project days

Set aside a few days a year to allow employees to either work on pet projects or develop new ways of tackling how they work each day. Then, schedule a meeting to share the results with other team members.

5. Telecommuting

Though not feasible for every business, many employees can successfully and easily work from home on occasion. In fact, 50 percent of people hold jobs that allow for telework on a partial basis.

6. Commuter benefits

Offer a monthly stipend for parking or public transit to help subsidize commuting expenses.

7. Wellness benefits

Like commuter benefits, reimbursing fitness-related purchases can be another way to subsidize common employee expenses. The benefit could go toward gym memberships, running shoes, or even bicycles.

8. Extended lunches

A little flexibility at lunch is always appreciated. Extending the break by even 15 minutes could give employees enough time to head to the gym, eat at a place off the beaten path, or just recharge for the second half of the day.

9. Cultural rewards

Mix up perks by throwing in concert tickets, museum passes, or theater seats. We could all use a night out now and then.

10. Field trips

A day away from the office is always appreciated. Schedule a field trip to either a client or vendor’s facility to learn more about the organizations you’re working with. Or, go the fun route, and take staff to a local brewery. We’ve got a lot of them around.

11. Stocked kitchen

Chances are, you already provide free coffee in the workplace. Why not go one step further and stock the kitchen with soft drinks, milk, fresh fruit, and other healthy snacks. Your team would definitely appreciate it.

12. Car service

Finding time in the day to get an oil change or wash the car isn’t always easy. Consider hiring a service to come out to the office and check that task of your staff’s ever-expanding to-do list — and while they’re working, no less.

13. Donations

Donating to a cause actually works on two levels. It provides your team the opportunity to give back, while making your company more desirable to talent. After all, two-thirds of Millennials are more likely to work for a company with such practices.

14. Tuition forgiveness

Not that you can afford to pay off everyone’s student loans, but you could offer to pay a percentage of tuition— namely for any hard-to-fill positions.  It could attract recent grads.

15. Work/life balance

This may not sound like much of a perk, but encouraging staff to leave the office at a decent hour does show respect for their personal lives. And it demonstrates that you won’t penalize people if they head home before 7 pm.

16. Thanks

Sometimes, the little things mean the most. Share some recognition for employee efforts on a regular basis by just saying “thanks.” But get down to the specifics and make sure the praise is authentic.

It’s no longer enough to recognize employees once a year with a bump in pay. Yes, they still expect that, but there’s also a growing expectation for your gratitude. More so than ever, people want to be recognized for their efforts — not just their achievements. Commit to their happiness, and they’ll do the same by committing to your business.

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