If there’s been a business slowdown for a while, paying out large bonuses would be difficult. You need an alternate that lets you reward and recognize employees without stretching your funds. In fact, your logic need not necessarily be a funds constraint. It could be organizational factors like internal competition or reluctance to pay high salaries.

In any such cases, use the below:

Handwritten note

When was the last time you wrote something in your own handwriting other than signing for the credit card slips? Writing by hand is a lost art in the digital age. Nobody takes the trouble of sending anything other than an e-mail with a digital signature. Sending a handwritten note of appreciation to the employee speaks volumes about how much you value their contribution.


Introducing them to major clients

It’s a major boost to interact with large clients of the company. If you include these employees in the meetings with the major clients, it imparts confidence to the employee and demonstrates your faith in him.


Sponsor them for conferences and training

This could be expensive but if funds are not such a problem, this would an excellent reward. The employee could pick out his preferred form of training, subject to a budget and rationale. It would be ideal if the conference/training were out of town with spouse/family depending on the budget. The golden rule is that it should be outside of office premises.


Gifts for spouse, partner, family

Family is critical to the employee, far more than money. Getting flowers sent to the partner or toys/video games for the child would be a wonderful way of expressing appreciation for a good job.


Gym membership

Most of us are unhealthy from hours spent at the laptop/tablet and the institution of regular exercise is a dying one. However, if it’s a sponsored one at the local gym, paid for by your company, then it might just be the right fitness motivator. Paying for a gym membership, for say six months, could be a good way to reward the employee. Rotating it each month, you could use it for holding an annual fitness contest.


Learn from others

Sears, Roebuck and Company launched an employee attitude survey program that became one of American industry’s largest and most sophisticated applications of behavioral and social science research to personnel problems. They found that for every 5 point improvement on their employee attitude scale, there was a subsequent 1.3% improvement in customer satisfaction, and a 0.5% increase in revenue growth.

If you’re a small business, you can probably see better and faster results, if you implement the above.