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5 min read

Welcome to part two of our Summer Fridays mini-series, where we’ll continue to share new ideas with you for the coming weeks about free and low-cost ways to motivate employees. If you missed week one, be sure to check out 10 low-cost employee recognition ideas.

This week, we’ll be mixing in the right ingredients and focussing on the concept of balance and what it means in terms of recognising your employees to positively impact their day-to-day, particularly when it comes to food and beverages. Because everyone loves a satisfied stomach, right?

Just like enjoying a balanced meal, it’s important to make sure your recognition initiatives are balanced. 

Why balance? As a former gymnast, balance helped me stay on the dreaded balance beam as well as the other apparatus. In my professional life I have also become a fan of balance. In fact it is one of our reward and recognition principles here at Reward Gateway, alongside our other principles of fairness, choice, wow and easy.


These principles help organisations meet the needs of their diverse workforce, and at the same time support how a business adapts its reward and recognition strategy as the company grows or changes. With the right employee recognition programme, you can recognise behaviours and actions across the board.

Download our step-by-step guide for an employee recognition recipe your people  will love »

All of these ideas are a la carte, meaning you can pick and choose what to focus on and the options are truly endless.

10 low-cost ways to make employee recognition a piece of cake:

To add to our list of low-cost ways to motivate employees, below are 10 more ideas to help grow your employee recognition buffet this summer.

piggy-bank-icon= low-cost ideas

piggy-bank-icon= no-cost ideas

piggy-bank-icon Lunch with the CEO

Offer top performers a chance to sit down with the CEO, or other members of the Leadership Team, to break bread and feel recognised for their contributions. This gives people the chance to grow in more areas of the business, ask questions and learn more about the company mission. It also gives your employees a chance for an uninterrupted chat with the CEO that may not always be an option due to schedules.


piggy-bank-icon Sweet treats

What’s better than surprise donuts or cookies in the office after a long, productive week? You could try creating a quarterly company bake-off or employees can bake homemade cookies to bring into the office as a way to thank people. Surely people will want to help out when sweets are involved.

piggy-bank-icon Clean their dishes for the week

Let’s face it, no one likes cleaning dirty dishes. As a free and friendly way to say “thanks for helping me,” offer to clean an employee’s dishes for the week. It’ll not only make someone feel great and appreciated, but it’ll also keep things tidy.

piggy-bank-icon Themed food basket

In a pickle with what to give an employee for their hard work? Find out your employees’ favourite cuisine and create a themed food basket filled with goodies to recognise them. For example, if they like Italian food, you could include pasta, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, olive oil and maybe a nice bottle of Italian wine.


piggy-bank-icon Bottle of wine or champagne

For the employees who like to indulge in a good bottle of wine, champagne or even craft beers, give them a bottle to celebrate with. You can even personalise the label to bring your recognition initiative to the next level.

piggy-bank-icon Fruit basket or fruit bouquet 

Who doesn’t love a good piece of ripe fruit in the summertime? Or how about an edible fruit bouquet? Send employees home with a healthy, low-cost snack that they can share with their family or loved ones.

piggy-bank-icon Voucher for groceries/ dinner out

Put a smile on your employees’ faces with a voucher to a local grocery store or even a gift voucher for a night out to a restaurant with family and friends. Nothing says thank you like a delicious, well-deserved meal.


piggy-bank-icon Free lunch for the team

Free food is a low-cost way to motivate employees. When a team really pulls out all the stops to complete a big project or task, managers can say “thanks for all your hard work” by buying lunch for them. It’s also a chance to try different foods you wouldn’t normally get to and recognise people’s different tastes for food and bring everyone together. Share the types of food you like to buy for the office in the comments section below!

piggy-bank-icon Personalised snack basket

Recognise an employee with a thoughtful gift, without spending a ton. Create a snack basket for an employee with all the person’s favourite snacks inside. You can even find clever ways to figure out their favourite snacks. One way we do this is by asking new starters their food-related guilty pleasure.

piggy-bank-icon Chocolate bar/ candy of their choice

Everyone loves a sweet treat. And they don’t have to cost a lot either. Give your employees the candy of their choice – whether it’s a chocolate bar, chocolate-covered almonds or OK, maybe something not chocolatey like a fruit chew – a surprise sweet can go a long way and make someone’s day.

Summertime is about gathering people, enjoying the good weather and sharing good conversations over great food. But more than that, it’s a great feel-good time to put in place low-cost employee engagement ideas for the months ahead to create a culture of continuous recognition at your organisation.

Low-cost recognition ideas should be a piece of cake to implement, right? These 10 ideas are simple, but will ultimately have a big, positive impact on productivity and employee engagement.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of our recognition mini-series and please share your ideas with me!

Debra Corey

Debra Corey is an author, world-class speaker and HR consultant, paying it forward by inspiring and helping others around the world to bring out their inner rebel and drive strategic and meaningful people and business change as the Chief Pay it Forward Officer at DebCo HR. Her career spans 20+ years developing and delivering HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.

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