Fun, effective ways to say ‘good job’

You need your employees to have an emotional ownership in the success of your enterprise, don’t you? In difficult economic times such as America is currently enduring, throwing money at this challenge without a good strategy is generally not your best bet.

However, putting energy and strategy into helping your employees will always serve you well. You can easily make employees your “partners” in success, with just a little effort.

What business can honestly state that they have no employee challenges? Every business leader must excel at motivating his or her employees. Through my two decades of research on this topic, I firmly believe that recognition is your Number One key to success. And, the best part is that you can do so much good with little or no cost to your organization.

Here are several no-cost and low-cost employee recognitions that I’ve culled over the years. Embrace a newly energized effort to show your employees that they matter to you and your organization. Give them a modicum of respect and appreciation, and you’ll be amazed how they respond.

To start, how about a desk or workstation visit from the president? What’s that cost? Nothing. And yet the value is priceless. Are you getting the idea?

Dozens of good ideas
• E-mail from the president. (Similar to the above.)
• Birthday card mailed to employee’s home; birthday cake and coffee break.
• Notice to all employees of an employee’s special performance.
• Letter of recognition in employee’s permanent file.
• “AttaBoy/AttaGirl in next newsletter.
• Paid time off (big in the military).
• Recognition an important meeting.
• Flowers from boss’s home garden.
• Company T-shirt, polo shirt, denim shirt, cap or jacket.
• Private lunch with the president.
• Gift certificates to local restaurant, theater or video rental store.
•  Flex time.
• Special parking space.
• Team potluck celebration.
• Choice of work assignments.
• Certificate of Appreciation.
• Bake cookies for an employee.
• Selecting the workplace radio station for a week.
• “Come in late/get off early” card.
• Get the workplace recycled soda cans for a month.
• Handshake and sincere “Thank you.”
• Gift basket to family of employee.
• Letter about employee’s accomplishments to their family.
• Boss washing employee’s car.
• Pizza, donuts or something healthy.
•  “Get Out of Meeting” card.
• Free vending machine privileges for the week.
• Lotto tickets.

And still more good ideas
• Gold star on desk. (Might seem silly, however it works.)
•  Facial, pedicure or massage.
• Cater breakfast at employee’s desk.
• Party at owner or executive’s home.
• “We’ll do it your way today” card.
• Software, special keyboard, new chair, etc.
• Notice about employee accomplishments in local newspaper.
•  Guaranteed quiet/thinking time.
• Lunch at long meetings.
• Allowed to attend a business or personal skills seminar of their choice.
• Specialty area diploma signed by division executive or president.
• Tank of gasoline for employee’s car.
• Allowing staff member to sit in or chair monthly management meeting.
• Afternoon off for shopping etc.
• Recognition at regular staff breakfasts, verbally and by acclamation.
•  A CD/DVD record of the project that led to the outstanding behavior.

It’s about loyalty
Make your employee look good in front of his/her spouse/significant other; you’ll have won a large amount of loyalty.

I bet you could come up with a dozen more ideas if you just put some thought into it. The important factor to grasp is that it is less about the material recognition and more about the bragging rights and emotional connection that an employee receives from being singled out for a job well done. Now please, go onward and spread the emotional wealth.

Ed Rigsbee is the author of three books and over 1,500 articles helping organizations to take full advantage of their potential. Contact Ed and sign up for his complimentary weekly “Effective Executive eLetter” at

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