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Has your 2020 employee rewards strategy been whittled down to a mere shadow of its original concept? You’re not alone there.


Yet, the practice of rewarding and recognising your employees has never been more relevant than in the current pandemic environment. Your workforce may be fragmented and your budget tight, but it’s important to help people maintain a sense of pride and purpose in their work and their place on the team. Rewards do that. It may take a little creative thinking to generate the team spirit born of everyday office interactions and reward practices. But there are lots of creative ways to reward employees. And it doesn’t take a big budget to make a big difference to morale and results.

First rule. Whatever you give, make it personal.

Sipho has just delivered a client presentation under tight deadline. You decide to reward him with a voucher for the local gourmet coffee spot. The problem is, Sipho doesn’t drink coffee. He does, however, love fresh juice cocktails. What’s rewarding about that? A voucher to the organic juice bar just next door would have been a much better idea. The most effective way to reward employees, is to speak to their genuine passions and interests.

1. In-home experiences

Lockdown rules are easing gradually, but who knows when a windsurfing day or a wine farm lunch will be back on the experiential rewards list. So how about rewarding employee accomplishment with more intimate in-home experiences like a gourmet family dinner delivered to the door. Or maybe a romantic meal for two. Candles and roses included.

2. Online experiences

There are many international and local music concerts and theatre performances you can livestream for free. But there are a fair number of special paid online events that would make fine rewards for the star performers on your team. How about tickets to an online comedy show? Or a cultural event? It’s a personal reward enjoyed from the safe comfort of home. And it helps keep the arts on life support until the lights come back up on live shows. That bonus benefit won’t be lost on your culture vulture employee either.

3. Virtual instruction

Anyone with a passion for teaching (or for learning) has found a way to continue their educational pursuits well outside the realm of face-to-face gatherings. Everyone from yoga teachers to poets to chefs are generously offering some form of free online course, but there are many more specific and select opportunities available for a nominal fee. Wouldn’t your foodie marketing assistant Johan love a few online cooking classes as a thanks for extra hours fixing that important PowerPoint?

4. Vouchers and gift cards

While these are not creative reward ideas per se, they’re sure hit rewards that can cost as much or as little as you want, which makes them a versatile way to reward employees. And when delivered with style and perfect timing (as soon after the performance moment as possible) they offer surprise and delight free of charge.

And if you need a few ideas, check out this video.


5. Thank you notes

In a world where electronic communication rules, imagine the novel pleasure of receiving a handwritten note of thanks. Whether you courier it to your employee’s home or place it on their desk, it’s an act of care and sincerity that a text message or email just can’t replicate. And you needn’t be a writer to compose a meaningful message. Here are a few suggestions to inspire you.

6. Charity donation

Charity projects are very personal and support is always appreciated. So how about rewarding your employees’ exceptional effort by making a donation in their name to a charity of their choosing?

7. Flexible work hours

An afternoon off work has always been a welcome reward, but has taken on new significance as a way to reward employees. The work from home environment we now find ourselves living in has posed some interesting challenges for many people and particularly those with younger families. Your employees are learning to navigate time spent working alongside their children who need feeding, educating and entertaining. It’s been tough.

You may consider allowing your employees the opportunity to work around busy children. This should motivate and encourage them to be more productive and engaged when they are in front of their computers. It’s a way to sincerely acknowledge their efforts and helps them to understand that you appreciate the fact that they have spent time away from home to meet a work deadline.

Finding creative ways to reward employees

The best employee reward ideas don’t need to be expensive, but they need to be frequent, genuine and personalised to affect real positive change in the performance of your people and your business. We have lots of creative ideas for how you can reward safely and big on a tight budget. Get in touch and let’s talk about it!


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