5 Alternatives to Cash Bonuses That Will Show You Care
They say money talks, but what does it say? In theory, cash bonuses should boost employee motivation and morale. In reality, however, bonuses often evaporate almost as soon as they appear, especially if they’re simply included in employees’ direct-deposited paychecks.
So why is cash the go-to reward for most companies?
The fact is that busy leaders often think they don’t have time to consider strategic alternatives. With our always-on digital culture, there’s no white space to step back and look at areas such as appreciative leadership. Additionally, the vast majority of C-suite execs are men, and they aren’t known for being thoughtful about showing appreciation.
When Money Doesn’t Always Pay
Money isn’t the only thing that motivates your employees. They also value being appreciated, being part of something meaningful, and achieving work-life balance. Throwing money at your employees doesn’t meet their natural desire to be treated like human beings. Their higher-order needs — to work for a purpose, to feel pride in their work, and to make things better for others — trump the small lining a cash bonus may add to employees’ wallets.
Invest in lasting and impactful items and programs that are better for your business and your employees.
Money isn’t the only thing that motivates your employees. They also value being appreciated, being part of something meaningful, and achieving work-life balance.
Gifts That Keep on Giving
Rather than relying on cash bonuses, consider these five alternatives that will resonate more with employees:
1. Invest in Adventure
If you want your team to bond and feel appreciated, you should consider sending your employees on a trip. One of my clients runs an irrigation company, and he just took his employees — and their significant others — on a five-day trip to Mexico. It was a roaring success, and if it can work for an irrigation company, it can work in your industry, too.
When you shift away from cash bonuses, it will be harder for employees to have set expectations. When you’re gifting cash along with the great experience of a trip, you’re not held to a set bonus amount.
2. Promote Work-Life Integration
Life often is messy, not organized. Give your employees the responsibility and freedom to make their own decisions about when and where they work. In doing so, you’ll foster the kind of trust, transparency, and loyalty that money can’t buy.
When you support your employees, their work and personal lives will become integrated, they’ll feel less guilty and stressed, and they’ll be much more committed to your company.
Give your employees the responsibility and freedom to make their own decisions about when and where they work. In doing so, you’ll foster the kind of trust, transparency, and loyalty that money can’t buy.
3. Make Employees’ Lives Easier
My company includes a lot of working moms, and we pay to have each person’s home cleaned every other week. Is it cheap? Nope. Does it have an amazing impact? Absolutely. They have extra time to spend with their families or to devote to the hobbies that make them feel refreshed and centered. They also have more energy — and time and energy are two things that money can’t buy.
Most employees wouldn’t pay to have their homes cleaned, but they love the gesture, and they talk about it with new recruits. The $1,500 we spend on this perk is worth $15,000 in value and loyalty from our staff.
4. Give Gifts That Will Remind Employees Of You
I’m not talking about promotional swag. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with branded merchandise, but don’t make the mistake of thinking your employees want branded fanny packs for Christmas.
By nature, a gift is focused on the recipient. Keep your gifts authentic by making them personal, useful, and valuable. For example, I love sending out handcrafted cutlery engraved with the recipient’s name. Personalized, useful gifts such as this will help you remain top of mind with employees. If you have to put your logo on something for people to remember you, it’s not a gift — it’s a trinket.
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5. Don’t Forget About Employees’ Families
Sometimes employees make sacrifices for work that impact their families. If you want to get the best out of your staff, realize that most of them have a spouse or children and find ways to recognize them. Look for ways to include your employees’ loved ones in trips, gifts, and general perks.
By looking beyond bonuses to show your recognition for employees, you’ll get better ROI, boost morale and loyalty, foster authenticity, and even give your company a recruiting edge. For most employees, it’s not acceptable to brag about a $15,000 bonus, but they will show off a new Rolex or photos from a company trip to Costa Rica.
If you want to attract the best people, you’ll find that recruiting becomes infinitely easier when each member of your staff is a walking and talking recruiter. Employee advocates speak more loudly for your brand than cash ever could.
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