We all know money is important, but it isn’t everything. This is especially true when it comes to recognizing and rewarding top performing employees. One easy, budget-friendly way you can recognize top performers is through intrinsic rewards.
Think of intrinsic (or internal) rewards as non-monetary incentives that motivate and encourage employees and promote their value within an organization. Intrinsic rewards tell an employee, in a very effective way, that you appreciate them and their work. You can personalize this type of recognition to individual employees, while keeping things affordable, and apply it across various departments and groups.
You have many types of intrinsic rewards to choose from when recognizing your top performers. Here are five I recommend, which are both widely used and effective motivators.
We’ve all heard it before, but a simple “thank you” really can make a huge difference to employees. Public recognition for a job well done can prove even more impactful. You might consider creating an “Employee of the Month” program to spotlight internally or perhaps highlighting employees and goals they’ve achieved in a social media post on your company’s account.
Praising employees during team or department meetings, especially with specific comments made by customers, can have a strong motivational effect. You can also use milestones as another great way to recognize an employee publicly. Recognition for milestones most often comes in the form of service award programs that recognize the tenure of an employee.
Flex Time / Flex Scheduling
Flexible work arrangements, or flex scheduling, is one of the most popular forms of non-monetary incentives. For top performers, you may want to consider allowing them to work from home during certain days of the week or, if their job requirements permit, allow them to create work schedules most convenient for them.
You may find that many of your employees prefer working from the comfort of their home and are perhaps even more productive in that environment. You may also find that allowing employees to dictate their own hours creates a sense of empowerment and autonomy among top performing employees.
Giving your top performing employees the opportunity to connect and build relationships with senior employees is a great start to a rewards-based mentorship program. This not only benefits the employee, but also helps leadership teams build succession plans and facilitates knowledge transfer to newer employees.
Autonomy and Leadership Opportunities
Providing a top performing employee with the opportunity to lead a team or project can feel like a tremendous compliment, even if just for a short amount of time. Providing leadership opportunities demonstrates your trust the value you find in the performance and potential of an individual.
Providing a top performing employee with the opportunity to lead a team or project can feel like a tremendous compliment, even if just for a short amount of time.
Providing more flexibility and autonomy and giving them the freedom to dictate terms of work — within reason, of course — can empower and motivate an employee. You may also consider allowing a high performing employee to facilitate a training program or to share their insights and expertise with more junior employees.
Team Recreation Activities
Our employees spend a lot of time at work. In fact, many studies support the fact that employees spend more time with co-workers than they do with friends and family. This is why recreational team-building activities can have such a tremendous impact on employees. Recognizing top performers with an afternoon out bowling, an additional guest ticket to a holiday party, or just a simple team lunch is a great way to recognize and reward employees. These types of non-monetary rewards encourage employees to make connections and build professional relationships outside of day-to-day interactions in the workplace.
While this list certainly doesn’t include all the non-monetary rewards you can offer employees, these forms of recognition can go a long way toward intrinsically motivating and retaining your top performers.