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4 min read

Ah, summertime. A time for sun, fun, lots of backyard barbecues and the occasional trip to the ice cream stand with colleagues to cap off your week. It’s also a time to recharge on the weekends and bring your best self to work the following Monday. 

During the summer months, it’s not uncommon for people to go on vacation, meaning assignments get put on hold or can even go missing and employee motivation might be low. And when productivity and motivation has the potential to dip, that’s where recognition can be especially powerful.

This inspired us to create our new “Summer Fridays” mini-series. For the next few weeks, join us as we cover free and low-cost recognition ideas that are not only easy to implement, but will help engage your workforce during the summer months (and beyond) to increase productivity and show your employees you appreciate them.  And you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do it — I promise!

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

In fact, I was recently asked this question during a recognition masterclass, which jump started this series that we've been meaning to write for a long time. I’m here to tell you that recognition on a shoestring or without a budget at all is not only possible, but it’s also a lot of fun and just as effective. There’s endless room for creativity and innovation, and often your employees will appreciate and enjoy them even more. This week’s recognition theme centers around time - doing little things to maximise your employees’ time.

10 Low-Cost Ways to Maximise Employees' Time

Below we've outlined and labeled 10 low-cost or free ways to maximise employees' time inside and outside of the office.

piggy-bank-icon= low-cost ideas

piggy-bank-icon= no-cost ideas

gratitude-iconA monopoly "go home early" card

Similar to a “get out of jail free” card in the game of Monopoly, a “go home early” card is a non-financial, fun way to recognise employees. There are endless amounts of fun cards you can create with your own customised messages. Plus, these cards can be a part of a continuous recognition program continued out through the whole year.


piggy-bank-icon Voucher for dog walking

 We all know how much dogs mean to employees and their families. And some days it may not be easy or possible to go home and walk their dog. Save them some time by offering a voucher for dog walking to put a smile on their face and show them you care.

gratitude-iconAnswer someone’s phone calls/ emails for the day

It might not be possible in every role, but you could have a little fun by having another team member answer someone’s phone calls or emails for the day. It’s a fun team-building exercise as well as gives your employees insight into what their team members’ day-to-days are like. (Plus, of course, gives the recipient some much-needed relief!)

Download our eBook to learn how to put your own recognition programs in place »gratitude-icon Designated parking spot for the month

What’s better than driving to work knowing you have a prime, on-site parking spot waiting for you and at the same time making you feel very special? Each month, save employees time in their morning commute so they don’t have to worry about wasting time (or getting stressed) trying to find a spot and come into work feeling ready to go. This is a no-cost, continuous way to recognise employees who go above and beyond.

gratitude-iconExtra full or half day off work

Work-life balance is a term that’s extremely important to foster a more engaged workforce. When you maximise your employees’ time and allow them an extra full or half day off of work to focus on their personal life, they come back more refreshed and re-energized in the days to come.


gratitude-iconTake on someone’s least favourite task for the day

When someone goes above and beyond to help you, show them you care by asking them how you can help. Offer employees the option to take on someone’s tedious or least favourite tasks for the day to lend a helping hand as a way to say thanks. You can even use this as an extension of your company valueslike we do here with our “Work Hard,” “Own It” or “Push the Boundaries” values.

piggy-bank-icon Voucher for house cleaning

After a long day or week at work, the last thing an employee wants to do is go home and clean their flat or house. As a way to say “we appreciate you,” you can offer vouchers for a house cleaning service to maximise employees’ time outside of work and leave them feeling refreshed at work instead of burnt out.

gratitude-iconClean employee's desk for a week

When someone does something nice for you, a way to say thank you can be to clear their desk each day for a week. It's one less thing someone needs to worry about at the end of the day and goes beyond just saying the words "thank you" without having to spend anything.


gratitude-icon Make someone a cup of coffee or tea for a day/week/month

Everyone loves a cup of coffee or tea, and doesn’t it taste so much better when someone else makes it for you? As a low-cost way to say “keep up the good work,” employees can nominate themselves to make someone a cup of coffee or tea in the office (or even fruit-infused water if they’re not a caffeine lover) for the day, week or month.

gratitude-iconRun someone’s errands for the day/week/month

Some days it can seem like 24 hours isn’t enough time in the day. Help stretch employees’ time by offering to run their errands for the day, week or even month. This could include picking up their dry cleaning, dropping off their shoes to be fixed or any other chores they run during the day at lunchtime or after work. Running a small errand for someone goes a long way and also helps organisations form deeper connections.

Recognition is most successful when it’s continuous, timely and meaningful. Although this is a summer series, these ideas can (and should) be carried through the entire year to create your own culture of continuous recognition. There are small ways to help people or say thank you that have a huge impact on employees’ productivity and overall engagement, whether it’s on their commute to work or during their lunch break. Ready to get started?

Let’s make a big impact this summer while still keeping things light and showing your employees that you appreciate them. Employee recognition is a key part of employee engagement, and maximising employees’ time helps them come back more engaged and refreshed to work smarter, not harder. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to learn how you can improve continuous employee recognition at your organisation. Share your ideas in the comments below or send me a message at debra.corey@rewardgateway.com

Tune in next week for our next edition of Summer Fridays!

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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