Small and mid-sized companies sometimes feel they’ll never compete with their mammoth corporate counterparts because they can’t afford expensive benefits and perks like long weekend leadership retreats and family health care. But those huge companies don’t have the opportunity that small businesses do to tailor their perks and appreciation to the individual employees. Below are ten low and no-cost ways you can show your appreciation without breaking the bank.

1.      Trust Employees With Their Own Schedules.  Giving employees more opportunities to build their work hours and days in the office around their lives makes them loyal, productive, and more certain that you’re committed to their needs.

2.      Reward Employees With Preferred Projects. If someone has been putting in extra effort consistently on team projects and delivering results, ask them what they’d like to be next on their list of projects and assign them a leadership role.

3.       Provide Opportunities to Showcase Work Progress. Lots of employees feel that their colleagues don’t really know how hard they’re working or even what they do. By scheduling regular meetings with no agenda but sharing the progress and ongoing work of your employees, you demonstrate their value to the entire team.

4.      Have a Party for No Particular Reason. Don’t wait for your team to hit a sales goal or for a holiday to roll around to show that you care that they’re engaged, schedule a party in the middle of the week and let the team know that it’s happening in advance so as not to interrupt anyone’s work day.

5.      Record a Video of Employees’ Favourite Memories As Appreciation. With smartphones and the editing tools pre-installed on most computers, you can make a quality video without professional help in no time. Instead of the standard “Thanks for your hard work,” ask employees what their favorite memory of the employee you’re recognizing is to get more unique and varied answers.

6.      Offer a Sleep In/Leave Early Day Each Week. Let every employee have one day per week where they can choose to either roll in later than usual or head out early. As long as work gets done, it should be no problem and employees will love the choice.

7.      Put a New Twist on “Employee of the Month.” Based on the goings-on at the company, come up with clever awards and titles around the inside jokes and events that your employees experience. Titles like “Most Likely to Take the CEO’s Job” can go to the highly ambitious person while, “Most Likely to Drink the Last of the Coffee” to your resident caffeine fiend.

8.      Stock the Kitchen With an Employee’s Favoured Brands. Even if you only have a coffee pot and a box of biscuits, letting an employee whose work you want to recognise pick the brands for a designated period of time will make them feel appreciated and heard at the office.

9.      Let Employees Choose Their Titles. While everyone can’t rush to add “Chief” to their title, having a conversation about what employees want their next title to reflect about their skills and the work they’re doing lets them have more control of their career trajectory than the traditional job hierarchy that is already set up with titles.

10.   Offer to Take Their Worst Project. Sometimes even more exciting than taking on a dream project is unloading a nightmare one. If you want to recognise an employee as doing solid work, free them from their most taxing work project. The relief and gratitude will last much longer than the pain of having to do the project yourself.


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