According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory that has gained widespread acceptance, two of the most important needs we all share as human beings are the need to be respected by others and the need to belong. These twin desires are present at all stages of our lives, from grade school to college and even into our working years. It is no wonder then that most leaders understand how critical it is to motivate and engage their team.
With annual revenues in the tens of billions of dollars, the market for employee recognition awards (plaques, trophies, certificates, etc.) has never been hotter. Though most of the orders come from medium to large companies, studies show that small businesses can actually benefit most from these often inexpensive programs.
Even though many of their employees are unaware of their existence, most large companies have expensive rewards programs. Why is this? The number one reason is that they reward people simply for sticking around. These tenure-based rewards programs are not only perfunctory and old-fashioned, they also create little or no value because they aren't based on actual performance. As a result, they do not satisfy the nearly universal need for earned and deserved recognition and respect.
Narrow Your Focus
Small business owners would be well advised to avoid the mistakes of their much larger competitors by developing programs that reward specific accomplishments and behaviors. For example, don't just give someone a certificate for being the "employee of the month." Present them with an award for completing a specific project, winning a sales contest or delivering outstanding customer service over a certain period. Always remember that the objective is to reward specific behavior that you would like to encourage in other employees.
Types of awards
Recognizing employees on a regular basis can help your small business in all sorts of ways, from increasing attendance and improving worker retention to raising productivity and worker morale. All of this can and often must be done on the cheap. The good news for employers is that workers rarely care about the price of prize because they simply want to be recognized for their work – in this case, it’s truly the thought that counts. With that in mind, here are a few simple ideas that won't cost you an arm and a leg.
- Extra Time Off: With the exception of handing them a bonus check, giving a deserving employee a day or two off each year with pay is a cost-effective way of saying "Thank you!" for a job well done. It should also serve as motivation for other members of your staff to work a bit harder to earn the prize the next time around.
- VIP Parking Space: One again, it won't cost you much, if anything, but a prime parking spot for the Employee of the Month winner is a prize most workers will fight for.
- Plaque, Trophies & Certificates: A personalized award is a great way to thank or reward an employee for an outstanding accomplishment. Not only do they receive the recognition they crave when presented with it, but workers also have something tangible that reminds them of the benefit of hard work for a long time to come.
Whichever awards you decide to give out, make certain they are tied to a specific accomplishment that you believe the recipient should be celebrated for. This will show your entire staff that you value and appreciate their best efforts.