Water Fights, Karaoke and Scrapbooks – 6 ways to make employees feel special on a budget.

Sunset High Five

Photo Courtesy of johnwiechecki on Flickr

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou, Author

Making others feel good is not just a nice thing to do, but it makes you feel good too. Showing your employees and coworkers that you appreciate them inspires motivation and improves morale and productivity within a company. Giving worthwhile recognition is not dependent on the amount of money you spend, recognition is about sincerely appreciating the hard work others do and really meaning it when you say “thank you”. You can’t put a price on memories.

Here are a few Low Cost Recognition Ideas, as well as a Recognition Playlist to get you inspired and spreading the love.

1.  Greet employees every morning, reinforcing the message “I’m glad you’re here.”  It may sound corny, but that’s okay – your job isn’t to win popularity contests, its to make your employees and coworkers feel special.

2. Organize a department-wide water-gun fight in the parking lot in their honor. It’s unusual, it’s fun, employees will remember it for a long time.  Super soakers for employees, tiny water guns for managers – think about it.

3. Let them park in your parking space for a week.  Often times, it’s the little things that make people feel special.  Don’t have a parking space? Buy them a weekly pass at a nearby garage.

4. Put together a scrapbook of memories for an employee who is celebrating a milestone anniversary. Give each person on the team a blank page to fill out with stories or pictures of their experiences with that employee. Then, after the public recognition moment, the individual has not only a treasured award from the company but something from their coworkers that captures their feelings.

5. Create a homemade fun award that is appropriate to what is being recognized. MeritShare provides a fun way to give out virtual awards to your employees and peers that can be humorous yet meaningful.  Customize an award to your company culture, make it fun for people to give and receive!

6. Gather co-workers to sing a light-hearted rendition of a song such as “You Light Up My Life,” “We Are the Champions,” etc.  We put together an employee recognition playlist for you.  If you do this, be sure to record it and put it on Youtube – then send us the link.  Seriously. 

Recognition Playlist:

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M

At MeritShare, we’re always looking for new ways to help managers recognize their employees in a timely and meaningful manner. One of the common requests we hear from customers is that they need the occasional reminder and inspiration to recognize their staff.  Managers today are busier than ever and employee recognition sometimes gets dropped to the end of the priority list. When you do have time to recognize, its sometimes a challenge to come up with a great reason on the spot.

Thank You in Sign Language

Photo courtesy of adihrespati on Flickr

Today we found a great online guide from Texas A&M’s HR department on Ideas for Low-Cost/No-Cost Employee Recognition.  We encourage you to check out the full list of 63 ideas on their website, but here are our ten favorite creative reasons to recognize your employees:

Ten Creative Employee Recognition Ideas from Texas A&M:

  1. Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education.
  2. Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight.
  3. Have a recognition event/award created by a peer group that decides what they will give and why they will give it.
  4. If you have a department newsletter, publish a “kudos” column and ask for nominations throughout the department.
  5. Post a thank you note on an employee’s office door or cubicle.
  6. Publicly recognize the positive impact on operations of the solutions employees devise for problems.
  7. Recognize employees who actively serve the community.
  8. When you hear a positive remark about someone, repeat it to that person as soon as possible in person or electronically.
  9. Give a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to employee work.
  10. Find ways to reward department-specific performance.

If you’re looking for solutions to help with administering the employee recognition program at your office, consider MeritShare. We specialize in converting offline recognition programs (bulletin boards, monthly newsletters and company meetings) to online recognition programs (recognition communities, social sharing of awards and real-time notifications and nominations). We have a free version that teams can try out with no obligation, and a premium version that offers full employee recognition and employee engagement analytics for organization executives and admins for very reasonable rates.

Top 5 Reasons You Need Peer-Based Recognition

Companies are looking for low-cost and creative employee recognition ideas and peer-recognition can be one of the most effective ways to thank employees and keep them engaged.  Here is why you need peer-recognition more than ever.

Power to the people!
The era of top-down management is changing.  Successful companies are empowering employees to make decisions and take action.  Yet in many companies employee recognition and awards are still determined at the top.  Relatively few companies provide peer-based recognition.  We define peer-based recognition as a program that allows employees to nominate, vote, award or thank a fellow co-worker in front of an audience or group.  We have interviewed over 40 executives at Fortune 500 companies, hyper-growth start-ups and industry leaders to get their best practices on building a successful company culture.  Based on this research and our analysis, here are the top 5 reasons you need peer-based recognition at your company:

1.   Recognize as a team to win as a team.  A very senior ad sales executive we interviewed encouraged his team to give praise to others in engineering, accounting and product.  As a frequent flyer he realized he couldn’t fire up the team on his own and enlisted his team to give praise and create strong inter-department relations.  He added, “having the extra set of eyes, ears, and hands really helped move our culture to the next level… I unleashed the beast of appreciation! “.  Giving more people the power to give praise helps build a culture of recognition.

2. Silent but deadly.   Many companies have quiet superstars who are always heads-down and delivering spectacular behind-the-scenes results.  ”Every where I have worked there has always been the strong silent type who didn’t make a lot of noise but always over-delivers”, said a very experienced account manager.   “It’s more important for me to see the right people get recognition, I depend on these superstars and wouldn’t want to lose them”.

3.  No more straight lines.    It is difficult for managers to always know who to recognize in highly matrixed organizations and cross-functional teams.   Peers can have a better sense of who is really over-performing and making significant contributions on a team.   The head of a design department mentioned that she had dispersed her team to sit with the cross-functional teams they worked on to create quicker and more responsive design support.  This took her out of some of the day to day interactions so she spent a lot of time getting feedback with the team leads.  She felt that peer-based recognition would help create a spirit of team work and help her keep in touch with how her direct reports were performing with their cross-functional teams.

4.  Act like a manager to become a manager.  Learning to recognize and appreciate work is an important leadership skill every manager needs to know.  Setting the right goals, communicating  recognition with the right words, ensuring fairness — are skills all employees can learn.  One senior leader said she was having challenges with getting her new managers to take the time and provide recognition.  She added “now I make sure employees demonstrate the right characteristics of being a great manager before being promoted”.  If you are looking for that promotion to manager, you are well-advised to apply recognition and appreciation techniques now.

5.  I feel good!.  Why not share the love throughout the organization and let everyone use the power of recognition to inspire greatness?  For some, giving is better than receiving.  The former head of recognition and engagement programs for AT&T said her peer-based recognition initiatives were the most effective programs she ran.  She beamed with pride and her face lit up when she talked about this successful employee-driven recognition program that included a trip to Hawaii and dinner with the Chief Executive Officer.

The next time you are at a company meeting, notice the rise in energy-level and goodwill when awards are presented.  Here’s the deal,  you don’t have to wait until the next meeting or a senior executive to recognize outstanding work, you have the power to do this today with peer-based recognition.

Ready to get started with peer-based recognition?  Try it for free today at MeritShare, we give everyone the power of appreciation.