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How to reward your team

Posted in Employers on Apr 11, 2019 by Keeley Edge

Our guest blog comes from John Davison who is a Business Coach with ActionCOACH and has spent the past 15 years coaching business owners in Yorkshire.



It is a fact that everybody likes to feel appreciated for what they do. It makes us feel good about ourselves. In the workplace, it has been found that the principal motivator for employee performance is recognition of a job well done and people would much rather work for an employer that recognises their efforts rather than only giving feedback when they have done something wrong!

The reaction of business owners to this may be that they don’t have the time or can’t afford to be giving rewards to their staff for doing their jobs – after all, they get paid for it already! But the rewards for the employer who has an enthusiastic and motivated team to grow their business for them can far outweigh the actual cost to the business of the team rewards given.

In his book, “1001 Ways to Reward Employees”, Bob Nelson gives many ideas of reward schemes that are being used by companies to motivate and reward their staff. And, as he says, money isn’t everything – the rewards can be low cost or even free – but to have the best impact, they must be meaningful to the employee concerned and the system must be perceived to be fair and unbiased – rewarding the same employee each time will be a disincentive to other employees.


Your employee reward system can be very simple or more formal or structured – it depends on what works for your business and your budget.

Here is an example of a simple, no cost reward system that you can use to implement right now in your business – just personally thank your employees for doing a good job! 

Taking the time to deliver praise sincerely can be a great motivator for your staff. Obviously this will lose its impact if it happens every day, but catching people doing things well and acknowledging it is a good place to start.
With a small budget allocated, you can implement a system of more tangible rewards to incentivise staff, and this can be on a spontaneous basis, or more structured. Examples of low cost rewards you could use are thank you notes, a voucher, an extra long lunch break, a cake ... with a little time and imagination. By knowing what motivates your people, you can implement a system that really will make your team feel more appreciated.

If you have a bigger budget, team events are also a great way to get your staff feeling valued and working together more. This could just be taking them out to lunch as a thank you, or organizing an activity such as a hot air balloon ride. Just remember you cannot please all the people all the time, so have a variety and don’t get upset if all of them do not come!

Something that most people appreciate is more time off – giving staff a day off, or allowing them to leave work an hour early on a Friday afternoon or if they finish their work before the set deadline is a great reward and motivator, although clearly this has business implications that need to be managed.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can put in place a very formal system of recognition and reward linked to salaries, bonuses and promotions, but obviously this requires much more groundwork, management and monitoring to be effective and also has more of a financial impact. In order for such a system to be effective, it needs to be transparent and fair to the employees.

Linking salaries and bonuses to performance requires a clear definition of job roles at each level and establishment of KPI’s against which to measure performance. Financial incentives for employees can be for the following:

  • Taking on more responsibility – promotion to the next level, or additional tasks being performed without detriment to performance of the employee’s existing role.
  • Length of service - additional pay or additional annual leave entitlement, based on time with the company, as long as the staff member is performing to the required standard. (The danger with this is rewarding the ‘dead wood’ in the team.)
  • Performance related bonus – this can be a challenge as it requires the most clarity in definition and rigour in measurement in order to be perceived as ‘fair’ and therefore incentivise all staff. Bonuses are paid based on achieving or surpassing goals or KPIs on either an individual or team basis and they work very well where you have a quarterly goal and assessment procedure.
  • Performance related pay – the whole team benefits from overall performance above a set level (e.g. total sales over £1,000,000 or profits over £100,000.) This is an easier option in terms of administration than individual bonuses as it avoids having to quantify or score individual performance.

So there we have some ideas for reward systems that will help you to attract, retain, and motivate a great team that will help you to take your business forward. The system you choose can be as individual as your business, needn’t cost a fortune and with a little imagination, can introduce a lot of fun in the workplace. So make sure you are valuing your best asset, your staff and take action now to show them that you appreciate them!


John works with business owners and senior teams in a variety of ways offering Strategic Business Planning, Development through Team Engagement, 1-2-1 Coaching and Group Coaching programmes. His experience covers some 20 years as a senior officer in the Royal Air Force and 20 years successfully running his own business. That coupled with the proven ActionCOACH approach and toolbox enables John to help business owners in Yorkshire reach their full potential and enjoy a better life.

To book a cup of coffee with John, drop him a line - johndavison@actioncoach.com



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