10 Tips: How to Boost Your 2011 Budget

These days, everybody is looking to save a buck but times are uneasy and it is still important to acknowledge hard work. Here are ten ways to bump up employee morale without burning the green.

  1. Two words: Thank you Kind of a no-brainer. A public pat on the back, say, at the monthly sales meeting, or a sincere email with specifics (Jane, you hit your quota and did 5% better this month) goes a long way.
  2. Flex time Companies pay a lot of lip service to work/life balance but what employees really want is time to handle family obligations or restore and refresh. Four-day workweeks, the ability to telecommute, or a combination of these are great options to consider.
  3. Promote pet projects Letting employees take ownership over workplace extracurriculars, like setting up a health fair or organizing a Habitat for Humanity event, builds morale and allows you to see a new side of your staff.
  4. School days Your local community college or university may have great programs for your eager employees. Training and development through the workplace is a huge perk.
  5. Surprises Smaller companies can reward one or two employees easily. A gift card to a fancy restaurant or tickets to a game might be just the thing.
  6. Fun, not Funding Focus on the experience not the cost when it comes to employee appreciation. Instead of an open-bar and a gourmet meal, head to a mini-golf course and hand out trophies for the mini-PGA.
  7. One-on-one Pull those aside who you are grooming to move ahead this year. Talk to them about what’s next for the company and how they can take ownership of those next steps.
  8. Honor specific achievements By earmarking one or two percent of your base pay budget for cash payouts, you can recognize specific achievements quickly after they happen. If money is really tight, think about a gasoline or grocery gift card.
  9. Get them involved Acknowledgment doesn’t just have to come from the higher-ups. Facilitate employee-to-employee pats on the back to let them appreciate a co-worker’s contributions.
  10. Give them a voice Every employee should be given the chance to tell you the best way to do their job. Ask your staff what their experience is working with the company and doing their job and you might be surprised at their ideas on efficiency, cost reduction, or process management.