In today’s fast-paced, goals driven business world, many business leaders think that celebrating or rewarding their employees requires too much time and money. In other words, they believe they don’t have time to celebrate employee accomplishments or have fun because they have pending work and deadlines that take priority, or they think celebrating always means spending money.  Other leaders are of the mindset that their employees should just be thankful to have jobs, and there’s no reason to celebrate what they get paid to do. These leaders are missing out on the many advantages that rewarding employees offers.

Celebrating is not just about making people feel good and having fun. It’s also about generating positive energy, which improves both top line and bottom line results. Additionally, celebrating your employees leads to passionate, engaged employees, and that is a requirement to achieve consistent top and bottom line growth in any organization. Grumpy, disengaged employees alienate good customers, kill productivity, and send “A” players running to the competition.

To improve a company’s top and bottom line, it is important for leaders to change their mindset about celebrating their employees and having fun at work. They need to understand that when employees are engaged, they work harder, smarter and longer, are more creative, and refer other “A” players to the company. Also, realize that it is important to celebrate activity, not just results. By the time activity leads to results, people might be burnt out.

Therefore, if you want to have a motivated team that achieves the company’s goals, you need to find ways to measure and reward positive outcomes. Compliment and celebrate your team’s accomplishments, both big and small. Reward activity, not just financial performance. Below are a few specific ideas to help you identify productive ways to celebrate.

1. Quarterly Themes or Contests

The key to helping people remember what is most important in any given time period is to make it memorable and fun. The theme or contest can focus on revenue goals, customer service levels, safety statistics, or any key performance indicator deemed critical for the organization. The theme or contest should include the following:

  • Theme name

  • Theme scoreboard or image (visual)

  • Reward for achieving the theme goal (a reward is typically a tangible item—money, gift, etc.)

  • Theme celebration (a celebration is typically a special experience or event for achieving the theme—like a party).

 2. Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award

Reward people for doing something outside of the scope of their job in order to help a client, coworker, or supplier. Nominations for this award can be made by anyone (supervisor, coworker, or subordinate). Hold an “all hands” meeting each month where the stories behind each of the nominations are told.

3. Employee Dollars

Give out fake money when an employee is caught doing something great. This money can only be redeemed for work-related privileges or gifts (time off, gift to their favorite charity, etc.).

4. Include the Family

Reward an employee by taking that person and his or her family out to lunch, dinner, or a show. Including the family adds a nice personal touch, which is greatly appreciated.

5. Thank You Notes

Show your appreciation by sending a thank you note immediately following a job well done. We spend half our waking lives at work. Shouldn’t we figure out how to make it fun and rewarding?