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Workplace blogs

Motivate, Recognize, Celebrate Employees With Offbeat Rewards

There are hundreds of fun ways to thank employees, build team spirit, celebrate success, and recognize the great contribution employees make. Here are just a few offbeat ways you could recognize your employees (excerpted from Mike’s next book, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All The Way to The Bank): 

  • Depending on where your offices are, allow employees one “snow day,” “surf’s up day” or “sun’s out day” per year where they can sneak out for the afternoon to take advantage of the weather.
  • To help employees celebrate their birthdays, create a policy where they are allowed to leave work two hours early on their birthday and/or arrive two hours late the day after (when in fact, it may be even more apprebigstock-Happy-Woman-Jumping-3660021ciated).
  • Hold a Limo Lottery, where the winning employee gets dropped off to work and picked up again by a limo.
  • Alpine Tubular Management & Supply Inc. hands out a trophy made from a golden upside toilet plunger holding some fake “poop” once a month to an employee or team that “gives a crap” by going above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Wilson Learning Corporation gives new employees a Mickey Mouse watch at the three-month mark to remind them to keep having fun at work; after 10 years they get a gold Mickey Mouse watch.
  • Zappos has a program to recognize its workplace heroes. Each employee is given a $50.00 monthly allowance to award a colleague as a bonus as part of its monthly Hero Award program. The executive team then picks an overall hero from all the candidates. The winning workplace hero is announced with a mini-parade while the song “I Need A Hero” plays on the office sound system. The hero of the month gets a covered parking space for a month, a $150 Zappos gift card and, as befitting any true hero, a cape.
  • Rogers Insurance in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, rewards employees through their “Dream Program” which allows all employees to register their dream wishes. Then, each year, four employees (one selected anonymously by a staff vote, one anonymously by management, and two by random draws) receive $10,000 towards achieving their dream. The company also adds $100 a year into each employee’s “Dream Account”, from which they can withdraw money at any time to put towards their dreams, and gives an additional $1,000 dream to one randomly selected employee.
  • Cable & Wireless Optus in Sydney, Australia held a lottery to name floors in their building after employees. The winning employee gets the floor officially named for them, complete with a plaque and photo on the associated wall.
  • Hold a Ferris Bueller’s Day off contest, wherein employees submit their ideas for what they’d do for the day if they could play hooky. The winner (either through a draw or a vote for the most creative) gets the chance to live their dream hooky day.
  • A Wells Fargo office in California has a list of 101 awards and prizes, including some rather offbeat ones: hot air ballooning, getting your house cleaned, music lessons for your child, and a complete personal makeover.
  • Have a “celebrity for the day” contest where the winner gets the full celeb treatment, complete with limo, paparazzi, and glamour photos shots.
  • Make a donation to the employee’s charity of choice to honor them on their birthday.

Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of Inspiring Workplaces.  For great ideas to help you build a better workplace, sign up for his weekly e-zine, Humor at Work.

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