Employees of small or start-up businesses need incentives too. In fact, they need it more than their counterparts at larger companies.
Incentives for employees of small businesses can be performance-based and have little to no out of pocket cost. The secrets to the success of these programs are simple : creativity, utility, high perceived value and consistency.
Creative employee incentives that offer your staff new and different rewards for meeting specific performance benchmarks are strongly motivating.The more creative the reward or program, the more “buzz” that’s created and the more likely employees are to get involved.
One creative idea which works very well is a Monthly Massage program, where a
masseuse comes to the office on the last Friday afternoon of each month … or every second month … and provides free massages to qualifying staff members. Throughout the month, employees are awarded massage bucks for meeting certain goals. All employees with 4 massage bucks or more get a free massage. Everybody loves a massage. This incentive is highly motivating to employees of all ages, sexes and salary levels.
Utility is also essential to success. If the employees can’t use or don’t see any value in the award, they’re not going to be motivated to participate. For instance, a pen, calendar book or free subscription to a trade journal would be of little interest or use to most employees.
Unless the award in the program has a high perceived value, most employees won’t bother to participate. Cash, gift cards and extra time-off are always well received by staff at all levels.
Finally, consistency is another key element in the success of any low cost employee incentive program. Don’t run the incentive program randomly, or discontinue it for a month or two because sales are down. Keep it going. Employees need to be motivated and rewarded whether you’re making money, losing money or breaking even.
Simple Employee Incentives That Work
Here are a number of now cost or low cost employee incentive programs that are both effective and easy to administer:
A Bonus Vacation Day
Everybody would like a little more time off. Earning an extra vacation day … or “mental health day” is a powerful motivator.
Half Day Friday During The Summer
You can turn lazy, hazy Friday afternoons during the summer when business is slow into powerful employee incentives. Giving qualifying employees Friday afternoon off to get a jump on the weekend works wonders for both performance and morale.
Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Taking an employee out to lunch … or paying for an eat-in lunch one day from their favorite eatery is an easy, low cost reward.
Small Cash Bonus
Money always talks … and says a lot. A small cash bonus of $50 or $100 is always appreciated and needed by employees at all levels.
Free Coffee and Danish For A Week
All it takes is a pre-loaded cash card from Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Panera Bread, Gloria Jean’s or other nearby coffee establishment. Free coffee for a week … or a month if your budget can afford it is well appreciated and easy to administer incentive.
Annual Membership in Discount Buying Club
Who can’t resist a bargain or saving money … especially in today’s economy. Offering an annual membership in Costco or Sam’s Club is a thoughtful, useful and motivating incentive that costs very little but helps your employees’ paychecks go a lot farther.
$25 Gift Card
Just walk into any chain supermarket or drug store and you’ll find dozens of different gift card options including cash cards, gift cards for department stores, book stores, sporting good stores, food stores, computer stores, clothing boutiques and just every type of retail outlet imaginable. You can play it safe and give a cash gift card, or personalize the award by choosing the employee’s favorite department or clothing store. Best of all, you can select cards in denominations of $25, $50, $75 and $100.
A Night At the Movies
Awarding a night at the movies to employees and their spouses can be very effective … especially if the employee has been putting in extra evening and weekend hours. Most movie theater chains offer discount gift certificates or you can get prepaid movie tickets good at almost every movie theater in the country online at hollywoodmoviemoney.com. Tickets for popcorn and candy are also available.
A Night On The Town
Restaurant Certificates can be purchased online at big discounts for many restaurants around your town and across the country. Most are valid for both food and alcoholic beverages, although some restaurants have restrictions about weekend usage. You can also purchase the certificates in a set denominations that can be used at any restaurant of the employee’s choice. It’s an easy, economical and effective incentive program for all employees of all ages.
Toast To Success
A bottle of good champagne or wine … possibly combined with a gourmet gift basked … is a tasteful way of recognizing and rewarding accomplishment. You can either pre-purchase the award… or let the employee choose from a catalog or online.
Employee of The Month
Seemingly trite but proven effective, employee of the month programs still get results. You can easily custom tailor these programs to include … a special parking space, lunch with the boss, a $50 reward card, and of course an award certificate.
These programs are so simple, you don’t even need an HR person on staff to administer these programs. An office manager, marketing director or even the boss can easily take charge.
Finally, even in the smallest office, you need to promote the incentive program by emails, posters in break rooms and common areas and even a paycheck stuffer or attachment