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Looking at employee rewards programs on a budget

Incentive plans don't have to be costly or complicated if owners follow best practices.

Many times, company leaders want to honor their highest performing workers for their dedication, perseverance and delivery under pressure. This way, an individual can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in his or her work, and others on the team can have something to strive toward. By investing in employee rewards programs, staff members will be able to see concrete examples of how they can both benefit their companies and reap the advantages.

However, implementing these sorts of systems can seem both complicated and costly. After all, managers have to determine what kinds of rewards should be given, how much the budget will cover, who should be disseminating the honors and so on. As such, rather than take a financial hit and have to deal with the headaches that come along with organizing a sales incentive program, some administrators eschew this altogether and opt out.

That decision could have long-lasting, negative results. When employees don't feel like their work is being recognized or that they're an integral member of the team, they're liable to start looking for job opportunities elsewhere. Some of the best workers could leave their position, and a business may start unraveling. But these incentive plans don't have to be costly or complicated if owners follow best practices.

Reward work, not big anniversaries
According to Market Watch, some businesses are starting to offer large, expensive gifts for workers celebrating anniversaries within the company. However, it might be more cost-effective for these firms to reward individuals based on their dedication, not a date. Not only will this bring more attention to the program, but managers wouldn't have to stretch the budget many times for every single employee, even the ones who might not be pulling their weight. 

Consider smaller perks
American Express' OPEN Forum reported that, especially in a recovering economy, workers are willing to strive for smaller gifts like candy, as opposed to cash bonuses. These systems can be just as effective at motivating employees and wouldn't break the bank.

Let a third-party do the heavy lifting
It might be easiest for a business to hire a third-party company that has experience in creating an employee reward program. This way, the setup would be simple and managers wouldn't have to take time out of their days to craft a system. Moreover, it wouldn't put leaders in the awkward position of determining when a reward is appropriate or how much should be given out. Taking the onus off of the higher-ups and placing it in the hands of experts might be the best option.

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