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Easy Ways to Reward & Motivate Your Employees

Finding ways to motivate and reward your employees is crucial to any organization, project, or team's success and significantly impacts employee performance. Employees do not see their paycheck as motivation but rather an expected part of showing up and doing the work. If you want to encourage others to achieve in more significant ways, you're going to have to do better than offer them a wage.

What makes this difficult is that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different things motivate different people, and a team can be motivated by different things than individuals. Below are a few top suggestions to help you find ways to reward employees and keep them motivated to achieve.

  • There is value in a sincere compliment. Small acknowledgments such as saying, "Sarah, you did a great job with that network diagram," might be just what that employee needs to feel acknowledged, stay motivated and continue performing with that same level of quality.

  • Offer treats at status meetings. Even something as simple as a basket of fruit or small treat-size candy bars can be enough to motivate folks to be more engaged. Not to mention, food is a great way to connect people. You might consider asking employees what their favorite treats are and offer a different treat for each meeting.

  • Turn brainstorming sessions into competitions. Healthy competition can be a great way to motivate others to engage. For example, you may offer a small prize for the employee that identifies the most risks. When considering competitions, make sure you recognize your employees' strengths, so everyone has an opportunity to win a prize.

  • Take time to encourage employees to recognize each other. One way to do this might be to use a blank sheet of paper (the bigger, the better) to write each employee's name on one sheet of paper and tape it to the wall. Then, give everyone colorful markers and ask them to write a compliment on each sheet of paper.

  • Certificates of accomplishment can make an excellent reward. They can be serious ("Most tasks accomplished on time") or funny ("Best Bart Simpson impression"). You can distribute these in several ways: at status meetings, at milestones, or host a more formal reward ceremony. Remember, humor can be received differently, so make sure awards do not put you at risk of embarrassing or insulting employees.

  • Giving a high-performing employee more responsibility or a role that they desire can be a great motivator. This can also be a great way to show other employees what type of performance receives the most opportunities.

  • Surprise your team with a lunch. We mentioned how food brings people together and offering your team lunch can be a great way to do that.

  • Offer gift cards for coffee, movies, or even groceries when employees complete milestones. Some companies even reward staff with a certificate for an extra personal day.

  • Ask each employee what motivates them and make your rewards fit! Something that you enjoy might not be looked upon the same way by those with food allergies or strong preferences. Make sure you continue to be flexible in your offerings and remember these efforts are about your employees, not you.

Motivating others is an essential aspect of organizational leadership. It is worth the time to have conversations with your employees about what motivates them and find ways to keep them performing at their best.


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