10 Innovative Ways Small Businesses Can Reward Top Performers

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Making your star performers feel special. Here are 10 innovative ideas to reward your top performers without burning a hole in your pocket.

Most of the startup and small-scale ventures work with tight finances, where the top priority is to keep the business afloat.

When keeping up with the demands of being in business becomes a challenging task in itself, the importance of rewarding the employees gets relegated to the back seat.

Rewarding employees is often misinterpreted as dishing out financial incentives, which can result in shrinking bottom lines. Sure, employees love paychecks, who doesn’t? But the scope of an effective employee rewards strategy can go far beyond the financial barriers.

Employee recognition is an art, and the best form of recognition is to make them feel valued, respected and loved. There are several ways to recognize a job well done.

A few words of appreciation given at the right moment or a thank you card conveying your heartfelt gratitude can go a long way to keeping your workforce in high spirits. Here are 10 innovative ideas to reward your top performers without burning a hole in your pocket.

Related Article:Researchers Identify the 14 Key Areas of Employee Disengagement

1. Offer Flexible Working Hours

Reward your top performer by allowing him/her the freedom to come to the office at any time for a week or two. Letting an employee self-manage his/her own work schedule is a testimony of your confidence in his/her abilities. Rest assured, flexibility in working hours is one reward that anyone would accept with a big smile.

2. Award Plum Assignment

Plum assignment, in corporate culture, translates to a desirable role or coveted responsibility. It's a great idea to honor the contribution of a top performer by offering him the privilege to choose his/her next project. It would not only make the employee feel valued but also bring the best out of his/her caliber.

3. Allow an Extra Day Off

All working professionals love holidays, especially after working tirelessly for a few consecutive days to meet strict project deadlines. So announce an additional day off for your best performer as a reward for his/her vigorous efforts. No doubt, an unexpected holiday during the middle of a busy week will come as a pleasant surprise to your star talent.

Related Article:A Good Investment: How Keeping Employees Happy Benefits a Business

4. Offer a Paid Vacation

An innovative automation idea proposed by an employee brought a great deal of simplification in management accounting process. It not only saved a considerable amount of manual effort but also reduced the operational costs significantly. You are not keen to introduce the culture of financial incentives but still, consider the achievement to be exceptional and wish to honor the employee with a well-deserved reward.

What could be the ideal reward to compliment such an amazing achievement?

Exceptional performances deserve exceptional rewards. Reward your exceptional performer with a paid vacation trip to a place of his/her choice. Yes, it can be a little expensive, but you should treat this as an investment rather than expenditure. It would send the right message to your employees and inspire them to work harder.

5. Breakfast From the Boss

The main idea of rewarding an employee is to make him or her feel special. So personally invite your special talent for a special breakfast. To make the occasion really special, you can designate yourself as the waiter-in-charge, serving the employee his/her favorite dishes. It might feel a little awkward for the employee at first, but the onus is on you to handle the situation with grace and humor.

6. Gift Tickets for a Sports Event

Who doesn't love to watch a competitive sports event live? It's an added bonus if the game involves a team or a player that you personally support or admire. And it gets even better when someone else is paying for your tickets. So reward your star performer with tickets for a sporting event of his/her choice. What if he/she is not particularly interested in sports? Well, in that case, you can offer tickets for a music concert, movie show or art exhibition. Just make sure that the reward is according to the taste of your employee.

7. CEO for a Day

Swap desks with your employee for a day as a reward for his/her outstanding contribution. So take your seat in the employee's cubicle, while letting your star performer work from the comfort of the boss's cabin. Of course, that doesn't mean interchanging of tasks and responsibilities, but it gives your employee a chance to get the taste of what it feels like at the top.

8. Thank You Video

It can be one of the most thoughtful rewards to honor your special talent. Create a video to congratulate your star performer and upload it on your official website. Make sure to include congratulatory notes and appreciations from the company bigwigs (like the Director, CEO and MD). Don't forget to upload it to YouTube as well, so that the employee can share it with his/her near and dear ones.

9. LinkedIn Recommendation

A LinkedIn recommendation can be an awesome idea to reward your top performer publicly (and where it matters the most). Let the company leadership write a few lines of appreciation on the employee's LinkedIn profile while recommending his/her achievements. It's a great way to express your gratitude while promoting your employee's career at the same time.

10. Get Featured in the News

Run a press release in your local newspaper to spread the news about your employee's success. The press release should cover finer details about your star performer's achievements along with a nice photograph. Don't let anyone know about your plan until the paper gets published the following day. Once the paper gets printed, grab a copy and paste it on top of your official notice board. To make it even better, get the paper cutting framed and present it to the employee by the end of the day.

Related Article: Delivering Happiness: What Customer Satisfaction Really Looks Like

This awesome idea comes from Internet Choice, a U.S.-based online business portal, where it is a practice to reward employees by featuring them in the newspaper. There's no doubt that everyone enjoys a bit of publicity and when it comes from none other than the boss, it truly feels special.

Final Words

Employee rewards are a way to set your top performers apart from the rest. It lets your workforce know that their hard work is being recognized. It makes them feel special. Above all, it acts as a catalyst to improve the level of motivation and inspires your employees to achieve greater success in professional life.

So, what creative ideas are you using to reward and appreciate your star performers?

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