Simple, Low-Cost Solutions for Staff Recognition

The everyday recognition essentials

It’s always important to recognise the efforts of staff, particularly when they’re performing well. Research has shown time and time again the positive impacts of a business strategy that places an emphasis on staff recognition.

For example, surveys carried out by Bersin & Associates found that even the simplest forms of recognition can improve employee engagement, productivity and customer service by 14%, compared to organisations that don’t bother.

Staff recognition is essential for many top companies – 60% of best-in-class organisations say it's an extremely important factor in improving employee performance.

But in an increasingly difficult economic climate, how can staff recognition be done in a cost-effective way? Particularly in large organisations, where the number of employees can raise the cost of consistent recognition? We’ve looked at some great ways to begin providing employee recognition without spending big or using up resources.

start an employee of the month scheme

It may seem dated, but an employee of the month scheme can be a really great way to provide recognition for employees. Most commonly used for sales staff, an employee of the month award can be given to the top-performing member of the team to acknowledge their efforts in meeting their monthly sales targets. The benefits to employee motivation for offering this should be clear.

Of course, this will only be the case if the reward is actually useful, providing employees with something that they want, or that makes their working life easier. For example, the classic recognition tactic of putting a picture or plaque on the wall may be embarrassing for some, and actually provides no benefit to the employee whatsoever. Instead, provide a temporary benefit, such as a better parking space at the office, or an additional half day holiday, to be taken at the time of the employees choosing. Or even better, provide a gift – we’ll come to some appropriate ideas for this later.

If your staff don't work to targets, setting criteria for employee of the month can be more difficult.  In this situation, instead choose a member of staff who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in that particular month.

However you choose your employees of the month, you can extend the reach of the scheme by entering each individual recipient of the award into an end-of-year prize draw or vote to choose an employee of the year, who receives a greater one off reward – perhaps holiday vouchers or a new piece of tech such as a Kindle or iPad. Providing these one-off awards doesn't incur a massive cost, but ensures engagement throughout the year.

FREE RESOURCE: Employee Recognition Check List  Download our free Employee Recognition Check List to understand which  employees you should be recognising and rewarding - get started today! 

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

There can be a bit of backlash against employee of the month schemes, as some see them as nothing but a popularity contest among managers. To avoid suggestions of favouritism, and to increase employee engagement with the scheme, you could allow employees to nominate co-workers they think are deserving of the prize.

There are a few benefits to this. Firstly, if employees have to be nominated, it removes the suggestion that everyone simply gets their turn to be employee of the month as a token, or that it always goes to the manager's favourite. Secondly, it encourages better teamwork and communication among employees. Instead of trying to impress managers, employees are encouraged to support each other, to work together, and to solve problems for their co-workers.

Rewards nominated by co-workers don't have to just be a once-a-month thing. Encouraging staff to pass on praise about the co-workers to management throughout the month has the benefit of building peer-to-peer recognition into the everyday company culture.


We’ve already touched on ways in which gifts can be used – but what makes a good, cost-effective gift for employees? Particularly when these gifts are to be given regularly, and may be offered to many employees at the same time…

We often find that one of the best gifts for a cost-effective reward is a gift card or voucher. These rewards are small enough to not cost a great deal, but still offer the lucky staff member a helpful and thoughtful reward.

You could provide vouchers for nearby cafes, bars or restaurants that you know to be popular among your employees. Alternatively, you could provide a gift card for retailers such as Amazon that allow people to choose from a massive range of different products.

Whatever you choose to do to recognise your employees’ efforts, the important thing is that you do something.

Providing employee recognition – whether it comes from management or peers – is an essential part of providing a positive workplace culture that ensures staff feel valued, and motivated to be part of the team.

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