Every businessperson is acutely aware of the tight labor market. As unemployment hits 50-year lows, the cost of recruiting is skyrocketing. This puts pressure on HR and operations alike to improve retention. Many are turning to employee recognition programs to keep key talent satisfied with their jobs. Employees who feel appreciated tend to perform better and remain longer.

The best executed recognition programs are mutually beneficial to employees and the company. Employees who are recognized for their accomplishments are more motivated to do a great job. This also leads to a sense of empowerment where staffers feel good about their contributions to the company’s health. In other words, it creates a deep sense of pride and loyalty. Company’s stand to gain as much as employees. Aside from increased production, quality indices may also improve. This leads to less rework, and fewer mistakes that are passed on to the customer.

Improved employee retention and customer retention sound great, but how much will this cost? It doesn’t have to cost as much as you think. Great recognition plans are not about money. They are about sincerity. The most important thing to ensure when executing your plan is to be absolutely sincere. If you fake it, it will backfire. How do you create a low-cost plan that is sincere and effective? Here are 10 ideas to get started.

10 Cost-Effective Employee Recognition Ideas

Employee of the Month

This is the most common, and most tricky to pull off correctly. Many people respond negatively to public recognition. It can be particularly stressful to someone who is introverted and doesn’t like the spotlight. You have to know your staff very well and recognize them in ways that they will respond to positively.

$100 Birthday Bonus

This is what I call egalitarian recognition. It’s important to recognize the accomplishments of your superstars, but it is equally important to make sure everyone gets recognized. Everyone, from the CEO down, gets the same bonus each year on their birthday, or employment anniversary date.

Restaurant Gift Cards

Gift cards to popular restaurants are a great way to motivate your team. Here’s a pro-tip for you. During the holidays, most restaurants offer specials on gift card purchases. It is common to find buy one, get one, or substantial discounts. Stock up on your annual supply of cards in November and December and save a lot of money.

Food, Glorious Food

A nice spread at the office, or in a restaurant is a great way to recognize a team. Meals are communal and bring people together. This reinforces the group’s achievement.

Time Off

Who wouldn’t like a day, or an afternoon off?

Branded Trinkets

Branded t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. are great staff gifts that can instill pride.

Handwritten Note from CEO

This should be a handwritten note, not a signed, pre-printed card. Pass on this one if your CEO doesn’t have the time to execute it.

A Simple Thank You Will Do

This is the most important recognition of all. When someone does a good job, or goes above and beyond, thank them. A sincere thank you from a supervisor or manager goes a long way.

Danielle Foppe is a Recruitment Manager at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Danielle specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career contact us today.