Which Non-Monetary Employee Recognition Rewards Make an Impact?

Which Non-Monetary Employee Recognition Rewards Make an Impact?

In search of non-monetary rewards that truly resonate with employees, we’ve gathered insights from CEOs, founders, and HR professionals. From the appeal of travel rewards to the simple yet impactful “Friday High Fives” tradition, explore the twelve thoughtful strategies these experts recommend for making a lasting impression without reaching for the company checkbook.

  • Travel Rewards Over Cash Incentives
  • Engage with HeyTaco Recognition
  • Motivate Through Mission Immersion
  • Provide Mentorship Opportunities
  • Personalize Recognition Efforts
  • Understand Employee Love Languages
  • Customize Personalized Benefits Programs
  • Grant Extra Paid Time Off
  • Offer Leadership Development Opportunities
  • Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Invest in Professional Development
  • Institute “Friday High Fives” Tradition

Travel Rewards Over Cash Incentives

The best reward I’ve seen is, by far, travel. You could honestly give an employee $1,000 and say, “Please take this, use your PTO, and go somewhere nice.” Some alarming percentage of the workforce would put it in their bank account to be used on whatever, whenever, negating the intent of the offer. There are offerings I’m aware of that accomplish the goal of giving the employee that break and the experience, but taking the ability for them to pocket it out of their hands. I’d be happy to recommend a couple if people want.

Jeremy AmesJeremy Ames
Leader, Workplace Technology


Engage with HeyTaco Recognition

We use a Slack app called HeyTaco, where people can shout out their coworkers for a job well done. Everyone then reacts to the post with a taco emoji, so that person collects virtual tacos. They can then use these tacos to redeem small rewards like cookies, or save up for a bigger reward like AirPods. Not only does it highlight the good work people are doing, but it is fun and engaging!

Corey SchwitzCorey Schwitz
CEO & Founder, Skydog Ops


Motivate Through Mission Immersion

Rather than material or status perks, top talent seeks progress platforms to accomplish meaningful goals. So, I motivate through mission immersion—outlining how each employee’s efforts weave into the fabric of our shared vision to guide innovators towards environments enabling human betterment.

During onboarding, I relay stories revealing how past consultants drove transformative placements—a UX architect who revived a health startup’s inclusive redesign, a machine-learning PhD who optimized supply chains to deliver lifesaving resources internationally overnight. Making transparent the social impact magnifying from personal contributions kindles purpose and pride surpassing any plaque.

Additionally, at monthly all-hands, I spotlight intrapreneurial efforts, like an internal mobility program conceived during COVID that has since placed five recruiters into more fulfilling lateral roles. Public recognition of autonomous initiatives amplifying our culture pays dividends in inspiration. Intertwine individual growth into the company’s story—participation is power, so set the stage for people to create their own spotlight.

Lou ReverchukLou Reverchuk
Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal


Provide Mentorship Opportunities

One non-monetary reward I have found to have an incredible impact on employees is providing mentorship. Giving an employee access to a senior leader on a regular cadence to learn from, communicate with, and ask questions can be an instrumental way to develop an employee and provide them with opportunities. The senior leader can use the opportunity to impart their knowledge and guide the mentee to success within the organization, which also provides the employer with a benefit.

Other than the time given by both parties, this is a free way for a company to reward an employee with an experience versus a dollar amount. Employees who are given mentorship typically create a long-lasting relationship with their mentor and take the learnings far beyond the mentorship into their career and personal life.

Heather KerrHeather Kerr
Human Resources Manager


Personalize Recognition Efforts

Offering personalized recognition for achievements or milestones can make a significant impact. For instance, acknowledging an employee’s hard work or contribution during a team meeting or through a personalized note can be very motivating.

It shows the employee that their efforts are noticed and valued by the leadership, fostering a positive work environment and encouraging continued excellence. This method has proven to be effective in enhancing employee satisfaction and loyalty without incurring financial costs.

Ana AlipatAna Alipat
Recruitment Team Lead, Dayjob Recruitment


Understand Employee Love Languages

Appreciation by making the employee feel loved, saying this from the love language perspective because it matters at work, too. We all have our own ways to feel loved and appreciated.

Some need the words, the accolades, the distinction, the reward, the diploma. Some need quality time with you, their peers, or family. Others want personal gifts that don’t have to be monetary; just show that you think about them and took the time to create them. Other ones will favor little services and help for them, or a chance to shift what they are doing to something else they might want to experience.

We all need money to survive first and then to have a comfortable life, but little personal things will make us feel fulfilled and happy. Find those for every employee and give it to them.

Cristina ImreCristina Imre
Founder Tech Leadership Lab & Quantum Wins Consultant, Tech Leadership Lab


Customize Personalized Benefits Programs

This reward is a personalized benefits program for sure. Personalized benefits go beyond standard offerings by tailoring rewards to individual preferences, allowing employees to choose what aligns best with their needs. This could include flexible benefits packages for health insurance, retirement plans, and optional perks like wellness programs or childcare support. Such an approach demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and values individuals by acknowledging their diverse needs.

By empowering employees to customize their benefits, organizations foster a sense of belonging, leading to higher morale, increased retention, and a more dedicated workforce.

Hanna BorysenkoHanna Borysenko
HR Director, Elai Inc.


Grant Extra Paid Time Off

Offering extra paid time off as a non-monetary reward is a strategic move that employees will surely appreciate. This gesture says “thank you” to workers for their work and efforts. At the same time, it recognizes the importance of rest, promotes a healthy work environment, and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the overall welfare of its workforce.

Why is extra PTO a strategic approach? Not only does this introduce a holistic approach to a person as a worker and a human being having a life outside of work, but it also boosts morale and positively influences overall job satisfaction and engagement.

This is why businesses should consider offering additional vacation days, a day off for workers’ birthdays, or after completing a big project, or a long weekend by making Friday a day off.

Nina PaczkaNina Paczka
Community Manager, MyPerfectResume


Offer Leadership Development Opportunities

I have found that offering opportunities for increased leadership to be a really effective benefit that can lead to job satisfaction among your team. Providing these opportunities for employees to lead projects, mentor others, or participate in cross-functional teams also makes it easier to promote career growth.

Developing a pipeline of future leaders within the organization is also critical for the long-term success of any business. Offering leadership opportunities allows your company to identify and set up talented individuals for future leadership roles, ensuring continuity and stability in leadership positions. You are essentially building a strong team that can be adaptable and take on bigger roles to maximize efficiency and to foster a healthier work-life balance.

One way you can provide opportunities for employees to gain experience in different roles or departments is through cross-training and job rotation, as it exposes them to diverse perspectives and challenges. This broadens their skill set and prepares them for future leadership roles within the organization.

Also, offering workshops, seminars, and training programs focused on leadership development equips employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in leadership roles. Topics may include communication skills, conflict resolution, strategic thinking, and team management.

Curtis FeatherCurtis Feather
Founder, Franboost


Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements

Offering flexible work arrangements can have a positive impact on employees and their overall well-being. This could include options for remote work, flexible schedules, or compressed workweeks.

These arrangements can help employees better balance their work and personal lives, reducing stress and improving their overall satisfaction with their job. It also shows that the employer trusts and respects their employees to manage their own time and responsibilities effectively.

As a result, employees may feel more committed to the company and be more willing to go above and beyond in their work.

Keith SantKeith Sant
Founder & CEO, Sell Mobile Home Park


Invest in Professional Development

At Kualitee, offering professional development opportunities, such as sponsoring industry conferences, workshops, or online courses, has been an effective non-monetary reward with a lasting impact on employees. It boosts morale, fosters a culture of learning, and shows investment in their future, leading to increased loyalty and productivity.

Khurram MirKhurram Mir
Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kualitee


Institute “Friday High Fives” Tradition

A highly effective, non-monetary reward with a lasting impact that I created is our weekly company-wide “Friday High Fives.”

Every Friday we highlight high fives in our company wide channel in Microsoft Teams. We personally recognize team members for a job well done. From helping secure a major new client to going above-n-beyond assisting a coworker—it allows direct call outs from peers and leadership on the little wins that delight customers or support teammates.

There is NO prerequisite for great work. We want to amplify, spurring micro-moments of A-plus job satisfaction. It’s an easy, consistent way to reinforce mutual acknowledgment. Not for extravagant successes either—no accomplishment is too small to celebrate. We have a nomination form and throughout the week anyone can highlight someone.

It’s a perfect way to embed extra recognition and fun into our week. People love seeing their wins acknowledged publicly, creating a snowball effect where folks chase that sweet dopamine hit of a Friday shout out. Our Friday High Fives have skyrocketed engagement and morale—a completely free investment paying remarkable dividends in bonding our team!

Nicole SerresNicole Serres
SMB Advisor


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