A head shot of Mary Krull, Mary Krull, lead attraction partner at Southern New Hampshire University.
Mary Krull, pictured above, is the lead attraction partner at Southern New Hampshire University. — Photo courtesy of Mary Krull.

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about affordable ways to show employee appreciation.

Your employees are one of your greatest assets. That’s why it’s important to recognize their hard work and dedication to your business. The good news is you don’t have to spend too much to do so. How can you thank and reward your workforce cost-effectively?

Mary Krull, lead attraction partner at Southern New Hampshire University, answers...

Before I explain a few ways you can reward your employees, I think it is important to remember that you need to get to know your team. Employee recognition is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

What motivates one employee may not motivate another employee. Take the time to get to know your people and what makes them tick so that when you’re recognizing them and rewarding them for their efforts, you are doing so in a way that they will appreciate.

Below are four effective yet inexpensive ways to thank your employees.

Verbal recognition

This type of recognition has been around since the beginning of time, but it is a pure and free form of recognition that should always be in your tool belt. A genuine thank-you can go a long way to many employees, and some may even appreciate it when it is done publicly. For example, recognize an employee during a team meeting or organizationwide communication channel.

Flexible work schedule

I personally love this form of recognition. It is nearly 2024. Many employees want flexible work arrangements. By offering flexible work hours, remote work options, or compressed workweeks, you are showing your team that you appreciate them and trust them. For example, if it is not 100% necessary to have your team working in the office, recognize them by giving them the choice as to where they complete their workday.

Many employees want flexible work arrangements.

Mary Krull, lead attraction partner at Southern New Hampshire University

Professional development

Employees want to work somewhere that cares about not only the work that they do but takes a vested interest in their growth and development. There are many employees who would love the opportunity to further develop their skills to advance their career.

While some of these opportunities may have a price tag, there are many ways you can provide your employees opportunities that are free or don’t cost much. For example, start a mentorship program or cross-training. There are also low-cost opportunities like online courses and workshops.

Gift cards and merchandise

Gift cards are a nice option because there are so many options. For example, does your employee always have a coffee in their hand? Did you overhear them talking about their favorite local restaurant?

A gift card to their favorite coffee shop or a place you know they will like is a great way to show your appreciation for them. If your company has merchandise, offering employees branded merch is not only a way to recognize their efforts, but it also gives them a sense of belonging.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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