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We all want to be recognised and appreciated at work

Taking the time to show thanks for employees’ contributions is one of the most important things an employer can do. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”, and rewarding employees brings significant benefits including higher engagement, greater job satisfaction and increased morale. 

Recognition and reward go hand-in-hand, and it’s important to remember that the recognition always comes before the reward. At Reward Gateway, we advise using our 4 ‘MUST’ building blocks when thinking of ways to reward employees: 

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Coming up with employee incentive ideas on a budget can be tough, but the good news is that it doesn’t always take grand gestures or out-of-cycle pay increases to make people feel valued.

I love exploring different employee rewards ideas, so in this post I’ve compiled 6 of the best low-cost rewards for employees that are impactful and budget-friendly…

6 low cost ideas for employee rewards

Charitable Giving

More than ever before, employees want to work for companies that are taking positive action to be good global citizens. And many people feel their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with personal opportunities to make a positive impact.  

Giving employees the ability to make a donation to their charity of choice using company award funds is a great reward that has a broader positive impact. Studies have even found that employees who are given prosocial rewards – such as personal donations to charity –  are motivated to perform at a higher level than those rewarded with cash alone.

Treat the team

Our latest Workplace Connection Report revealed that 66% of UK employees don’t feel a sense of connection or belonging at work, and 1 in 4 regularly experience loneliness. So what can we do to build meaningful connections in the workplace? 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that teams who work well together and collaborate effectively are often made up of happy, motivated and productive employees. 

Rewarding employees at a team level with a small amount of budget to spend on a group activity helps to celebrate teamwork and promote connectedness. Whether it’s spending Friday afternoon at an escape room, a casual lunch together, a bowling night or a pizza party, offering rewards that treat the team can provide a serious morale boost! 

Spa Vouchers

Over half of employees in the UK say they frequently experience stress at work. While this should be addressed at a company-wide level to understand the main causes and build a comprehensive employee wellbeing programme, employee reward and recognition ideas that promote self-care and relaxation are always popular. 

Vouchers for spa days and treatments can show employees how much they are appreciated and help them feel refreshed and rejuvenated. 

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Financial coaching

The low-cost rewards companies can offer to support employee wellbeing span much further than spa vouchers, and financial wellness is fast becoming one of the most important pillars of wellbeing

The rising cost of living and increasing inflation will continue to be a challenge for employees throughout 2024. Despite this, our most recent Employee Engagement Trends Report found that only 28% of UK employees rate their company’s financial wellbeing support as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. 

In addition to integrating financial guidance and support into your overall wellbeing programme and offering a comprehensive employee discounts programme, why not consider 1:1 financial coaching opportunities as an idea for standalone employee rewards? Offering dedicated time to help team members build a financial plan, discuss a savings and investment strategy, or manage short-term debt can be highly impactful when delivered as a reward alongside a wider financial wellbeing programme. 

Personalised activity vouchers

2024 is all about individualisation and personalisation in the workplace. Employees want to feel seen, known, and understood as individuals by their managers. 

A powerful way to reward employees without breaking the bank is to provide them with a one-off voucher for an activity they’re interested in. Discover something they’ve always wanted to try –  perhaps ceramics painting, a cookery course, or even bungee jumping – and purchase a voucher. 

Rewarding team members in this way will help show them they are appreciated, valued, and understood. 

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Concert or sporting event tickets

Whether as an individual or team reward, giving employees tickets to a music concert or sporting event is a low-cost way to encourage them to keep up the great work while providing an experience they won’t forget. 

This kind of reward is another great example of the positive impact largely outweighing the budget required. Employees will continue to associate their hard work and professional achievements with the positive experience, long after the event finishes. 


I hope you’re feeling inspired by these low cost ideas for employee rewards that pack a punch when it comes to employee engagement!  

We’d love to give you a demo of our industry-leading platform, so why not come and say hello to the Reward Gateway team if you’re considering revamping your reward offerings in 2024?

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Charlotte Neal

Charlotte Neal is the Head of Community Connections at Reward Gateway and loves connecting reward and HR professionals to new ways to engage their teams. As a former journalist, she's most proud of her award from the RSPCA on a story about foster dogs finding their new homes, especially because it meant she got to spend her weeks following puppies!

Head of Community Connections

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