Every business is looking for ways to create happier and more productive employees. However, with the economic recovery still slower than expected, many companies don’t have the budgets they once did for employee incentives. In fact, many businesses are simply trying to survive.
Still, with some creativity, you can come with several affordable ways to incent your employees and make them more loyal and more productive.
Here are 12 inexpensive ways of rewarding your employees that can really pay off for your company:
1. Free School Supplies. Buy your employees’ school supplies for those with children by letting them raid the supply closet at the beginning of each school year. Since there are volume discounts available from companies like Staples, the supplies will end up costing you hardly anything, while your employees will appreciate not having to buy school supplies for their kids.
2. Snack of the Month. It’s no secret that people love variety, especially when it comes to food. Give your employees a new snack around the office each month, and they will greatly appreciate it. In fact, at the beginning of each month, the conversation will be guessing which new snack it will be. Some good online resources to save money on snacks are My M&Ms (branded with your logo), Harry & David, Dale & Thomas Popcorn and Nuts Online.
3. Computer Discount Program. Along the same lines as the gift card incentives, many companies offer their employees the opportunity to buy a computer at a discounted price. HP has a special Business Center section on their site that has discount programs that are easy for most businesses to join.
4. Gift Card Incentives. According to recent studies, gift cards have a higher perceived value for employees than cash. This is because it is easier for the employee to imagine what they will spend the money on. Gift cards are easy for employers as well because they are easy to order and distribute, and they can often receive volume discounts. You can go even further and use them as a branding tool by having the gift cards you distribute branded with your Company information by using GiftCards.com, which also offers cards at less than face value.
Here are some suggestions for popular and affordable gift cards that will motivate your employees:
- Groupon: Groupon is one of the hottest ways for people to save money on purchasing products or services in their local area. They offer deals on everything from automotive to electronics to travel to countless other categories at significant savings over buying directly from the merchant. This is a great way to provide your employees with valuable incentives while saving money in the process. To get started, pick your city then scroll to the botton and click on "Corporate Gift Cards."
- Amazon or iTunes: These are two of the most popular gift card options. For the best deal, grab them at eBillme.com and save up to 10%.
- Restaurants: Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? A gift card from Restaurant.com is sure to be a hit with your employees. They provide most $25 certificates for only $10 and allow you to select from local spots instead of chain restaurants.
- Movie Tickets: People still love to go to the big theatre to see a movie, but many think it’s getting too expensive these days. A $25 gift card from Fandango.com can give your employees a rare treat they are sure to thank you for.
- Health Club Memberships: Encouraging employee fitness can pay off in numerous ways. You can give them a free month or two, or discount each month on a membership to a popular health club like Bally Total Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness (click the links for special deals!).
- Gas Reimbursement: With the cost of gas going ever-higher, employees are concerned about the expense of commuting to work. Why not help them out by rewarding them with a gas card coupon? I couldn't find a gas-specific gift card but there are many Visa, Mastercard or American Express cards to choose them at GiftCards.com.
- Tickets to Ball Games or Concerts: Even in a tough economy, sporting events and shows are still America’s favorite pastime. Your employees will really appreciate two tickets to a game or concert, and you can get them discounted from places like Tickco, Ticket Network, or Tickets Now.
5. Put Your Employee on your Shared Wireless Plan. If you have a business that requires continual communication with employees outside the office, then it makes sense to put them on a shared wireless plan with your company. Be careful though, and make sure you set up a plan that does not allow them to rack up costly overage charges.
6. Flexible Scheduling. Very few things make an employee happier than the ability to create their own schedule. If your company has the flexibility to allow your employees to at least partially set their own schedule, then by all means take advantage of it.
7. Work from Home Option. Again, this is dependent on your business as to whether or not you can allow this. If you are able to allow your employees this option, why not let them work from home once a week or once a month? Employees love to have this option on Fridays, so they can be home earlier and get ready for the weekend.
8. Weekly Pizza Day. Along with the snacks, it’s a good little perk to buy the employees lunch once a week. This saves them from having to pack a lunch or spend $10 or more going out to eat. Also, pizza is very popular and relatively inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk. In keeping with the spirit of variety, order from a different pizza place each week.
9. Casual Dress Days. Most people love to dress casual and would prefer to go to work this way. If your business model allows it, let your employees dress casual or at least “business casual” once or twice a week so they are more comfortable while working. Friday is always a good day for this.
10. Have Fun in the Workplace. A fun work environment enhances productivity. Put some people in charge of playing practical jokes and handing out novelty items to mix things up around the office. ThinkGeek.com has a great selection of novelty and odd items to spice up your work environment.
11. Regular Company Outings. There’s no better way for workers and management to bond and get to know each other better than a company outing. Organize regular company picnics and other outings like softball games. It will make your employees feel more like family and they will feel more loyal to your business.
12. Hand Written “Thank You” Notes. Finally, when an employee does a good job, often times a pat on the back goes further than a financial reward. Don’t forget to take the time to acknowledge an employee when he/she does a good job. This will make them feel good about the company they work for and motivate them to keep performing well.
We hope you found these tips for employee incentives helpful. What are your favorite tips for employees? Leave your best ideas in the comments to share with the community.