Let's get you to the right place. Click here to visit the US site. USA Flag

Picture yourself at a rugby game. There’s no greater feeling than celebrating your team scoring a try in a huge crowd of cheering fans. But being a supporter doesn’t stop there – we also celebrate the smaller moments throughout the game. Whether it’s a great tackle, an exciting move or even a video referee decision that goes in your favour, these little moments make the game exciting and keep us engaged. So why should this just apply to sports?

When it comes to reward and recognition in the workplace, there are plenty of day-to-day opportunities for celebration in between those big wins. And showing them a healthy mix of gratitude and monetary recognition can be a huge motivator to all your ‘players’ to go above and beyond for the team. 

But don't worry, this doesn't need to hit your HR budget hard! Free or low-cost recognition ideas are easy to implement, helping you engage your workforce to increase productivity and show your employees you appreciate them.

A common question HR professionals face is 'how can I focus on recognition at my organisation without a big budget?'

5 inexpensive employee recognition ideas

Before we dive into our list of ideas, it’s worth remembering that the best way to recognise your workforce is to be unique and tie recognition to your company branding and values. This way, you can not only develop closer connections between management and staff, but between every employee and your organisation.

Think about who the people who work for you are and what might appeal to them. Are they healthcare providers? Are they drivers in charge of delivery? Are their duties high stress? Do they work long hours?

Once it’s established who they are, you can begin to research which methods of recognition would matter most to your employees beyond the standard verbal ‘thank you.’ 

But we thought we’d give you a helping hand by providing a few examples of some of the most successful and inexpensive employee recognition ideas we’ve come across. 

1. Add connection to the agenda

When it comes to free employee recognition ideas, our first suggestion could potentially be the most important investment of your time that you make. Allocating regular time to showing some attention to your team can make a huge difference in how valued they feel and how motivated they are in their day-to-day operations. 

The best thing about this (other than it being free) is there are multiple ways to do this. And you can select a way that suits your company’s values and operational methods. One idea is to have your employees keep an “I Did” list as well as a “To Do” list. They can run through this in a team weekly meeting, helping to highlight their own achievements. You could also have your managers ask their teams at the end of each week what they’re most proud of and who they are grateful to. But make sure that managers are also shouting about their team’s successes to people higher up the ladder. 


2. Put the 'home' in home office

In the post-Covid landscape, most people’s living rooms and spare bedrooms have become their offices from Monday to Friday. With this added time spent at home, crafting a work environment that’s special and personalised to an employee’s individual needs is essential to their productivity and happiness. 

That’s why gifting team members with a lamp, bookshelf or decorative item for their good work not only shows that you appreciate them, but also that you want them to enjoy their working hours for the company. If you don’t know what they’d like, or need to roll this out as a thank you to entire teams, a small gift card for a homeware or furniture store could go a long way to making a remote office a home.

3. Give additional annual leave

A healthy work-life balance is essential to foster a happy, healthy and more engaged workforce. Of course, offering your staff a generous annual leave allowance is important for attracting and retaining them, but an extra day or half-day here or there can go a long way. 

When you recognise the hard work of your employees and allow them some extra annual leave to focus on their personal life, they’ll come back more refreshed and re-energised in the days to come.


4. Extend a special thanks with an eCard

While a handwritten thank you note can be a very prized possession for a hard worker, making a recognition moment digital makes it more visible to the rest of the business, which can be something your employees crave. 

This is where an employee recognition platform can help organisations graduate from manual, time-consuming 'thank you's, to more frequent and continuous recognition through a social recognition wall of eCards. Allow others to 'join in' on the celebratory moment by adding comments or reactions to extend the recognition far beyond the postage it took to post a card. Your eCards can even offer monetary recognition, with a reward voucher added to it.

Why not personalise your eCards to reflect your company values and industry? The great thing about personalised eCards is that they can be used for both manager-led recognition and peer-to-peer recognition!


5. Create an employee raffle

A raffle is not only a great way of recognising your employees and their efforts, but in encouraging them to participate in peer-to-peer recognition. For every eCard of recognition received (or maybe even sent), the employee would be put in the raffle to win a prize. This is a great way of engaging staff across all departments and those who work different shifts, as everyone has the same opportunity for recognition and rewards

If you're interested in learning more about how to boost reward and recognition at your company, get in touch with us, and a member of our team can show you how our solutions can support your unique business goals.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »


Kylie Green

As Reward Gateway's Managing Director, APAC, Kylie Green is responsible for the Australia and New Zealand markets, working closely with Sales, Marketing and Client Success teams. She is passionate about working with organisations to better connect and engage with their people. With 20 years experience in partnering with companies on their engagement strategies, she helps strengthen the connection between Reward Gateway’s teams and how they solve local market challenges.

Managing Director, APAC

Subscribe Here!

Subscribe to our Blog Updates!

Receive our most popular articles in your inbox every other week for employee engagement best practice and inspiration