How to Give Recognition on a Budget

In an ideal world where money is no object, recognition would be a breeze. You could treat over-performing employees to a fancy steakhouse dinner, give them gifts, or even send them on a trip.

Unfortunately, we live in reality, where budgets exist and tend to be limited. Some workplaces don’t have the extra funds to bring in pizza for the office, much less lavish each employee individually. Here are five ways to provide authentic recognition without breaking your budget.

1.       Shout-outs during team meetings. Few types of recognition are more impactful than pumping up an employee in front of their peers. This public acknowledgement of their success can be more valuable than a physical gift. Start a team meeting by going around the room and commending employees for their work during the past week, and allow other employees to recognize each other.

2.       Organize a team-based event. Set up a pot-luck or baked goods competition. Everyone gets involved and has a good time with no expense to the company. As an added bonus, these events double as team-bonding experiences that bring the workplace closer and create relationships outside of the day-to-day work responsibilities.

3.       Lend a relevant book. Recognize an employee’s potential by recommending a leadership or management book to them. Not only will this help them grow and develop, but they’ll appreciate your effort to go out of your way to help them. The more personalized to their interests your recommended reading is, the more authentic the gesture will feel. Share with them why you’re lending or recommending the book and what you think they can learn from it.

4.       At least once per week, tell a senior leader what your team is doing well. This is very indirect recognition, and the employees you praise may never learn of your kind words. But your kind words can have a real impact. They bring attention to performance that senior leadership may not have noticed otherwise. This practice slowly builds the status of your employees in the eyes of your leaders and sets them up for future opportunities or promotions.