Reward Your Employees—Without Spending a Dime

Published May. 15, 2013

SCORE’s CEO, Kenneth R. Yancey, gives advice for improving employee satisfaction on a budget.

If you’re like most small business owners right now, you’d like to reward your employees for their hard work and loyalty, but you can’t afford to hand out raises or bonuses. Fortunately, there are ways to reward your team without spending a dime out of pocket. Here are some ideas.

  1. Thank-you notes. Former president George W. Bush was famous for writing thank-you notes. While it might seem old-fashioned, that’s exactly why thank-you notes are so effective. Employees who get thank-you notes are likely to hold onto them and remember them for a long time to come. Make sure your note is sincere, specific and memorable.
  1. Public praise. Calling attention to an employee’s outstanding performance is a way to reward them that will puff them with pride, but won’t cost you a cent. You can be spontaneous with your praise, or regularly spotlight deserving employees at your weekly team meeting or other group events. Bonus: Since everyone knows about it, public praise helps inspire others to follow the “star” employee’s example.
  1. Remote work. Working from home is a desirable perk for many employees. If it’s appropriate for your business and you have the technology in place, allowing your staff to work from home one or more days a week can be a great reward.
  1. Paid time off.  A day or afternoon off with pay is a great way to reward an employee or team for a job well done. Consider using this reward after a big project that requires long hours—your employees will thank you for it. Pick a Friday or other day that’s typically slow in your business to minimize disruption.
  1. Social media. Reward employees for a job well done by endorsing their skills and accomplishments on LinkedIn, highlighting them in your company’s email newsletter or posting about them on your business’s Facebook page. Employees will feel proud that they’re building a roster of accomplishments that’s documented online.