Feeling appreciated in the workplace is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. Essentially, employees who feel invested in and valued by their employers perform better at their jobs than those who don’t. This means that recognizing employees should always be a priority, even on a small budget.
Throughout their careers, managers are likely to face times when they’re unable to provide employees with the financial incentives or rewards that they want to because of budget restrictions. In those cases, it’s necessary for managers to think creatively and find other ways to keep employees happy, engaged, and – most importantly – feeling appreciated.
Here are a few ways you can communicate staff appreciation on a small budget.
Offer a Sincere Word of Thanks
“Thank you” is often an overused phrase in the workplace, but going out of your way to offer a genuine thanks to an employee who went above and beyond can still have an impact. A quick note, handwritten or by email, explaining why you appreciated their efforts and how they made a difference in the bigger picture can turn a simple “thank you” into something that helps an employee truly feel seen and appreciated.
Share Public Recognition
Public recognition can be shared a number of ways, but one truly effective method is to include higher ups within your organization when emailing your praises to a deserving employee. You might CC your own manager, directors, or other leaders who have an interest in the project. This simple action shows that you have the employee’s career development in mind, and want to give them positive exposure to powerful people in your organization.
Other forms of public recognition, like posting to an intranet, can also boost employee morale by giving their colleagues the chance to reach out and offer congratulations.
Offer Mentorship Opportunities
Establishing a mentor program within your organization can help employees expand their workplace network and hone their communication skills. Not only does it help the mentees by providing them with guidance and insight as they move along their career path, but it gives mentors a chance to develop their leadership skills. A mentorship program can also help employees see that growth and success is possible within their organization.
Support Your Employees’ Mental Health
It’s becoming less and less taboo to recognize the impact that workplace stress can have on an individual’s health, even when they’re in a job that they enjoy. Recognizing this and encouraging employees to take steps to improve their mental health can boost morale and provide other long-term benefits, like decreased employee turnover.
Additional time off for “mental health days” is a great way to show that you care about your employees’ stress levels. Consider setting up a small quiet area in your workplace where employees can go to relax and mentally recharge. Encourage staff to take short breaks if they’re dealing with stressful projects or meetings. If you feel an employee is chronically struggling with their mental health, refer them to your EAP for additional help.
Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
It may seem counterintuitive, but encouraging employees to have strong boundaries between work and personal life can actually make them happier in their jobs. A healthy work-life balance, where employees feel empowered to “leave work at work,” can help employees feel well-rested, rejuvenated, and more creative when they return to the office after a vacation, a weekend, or an evening.
Of course, there are times when an employee can expect to be on-call, but providing your staff with regular time away from the stressors of the work environment is extremely beneficial to their focus and creativity.
Appreciated employees are engaged and happy employees. With limited financial resources, it isn’t always easy to come up with ways to show your staff how much you appreciate them. But it’s possible to think outside the box and implement cost-effective employee incentives and rewards in your workplace.