I am wondering if the M-T members have any recommendations for low- or no-cost rewards for excellent performance.  These would be occasionally distributed with no prior warning (not an incentive).  My team does not work in a traditional office as we breed various species of endangered animals for release.  We are a small staff and work fairly remotely so a reward such as taking an employee to lunch may not work.  Thank you for any guidance and the excellent podcasts.


douglase's picture

extra time off.  ie give them the choice of an extra couple of hours off work (or a half-day) if you business can handle that. Either on the spur of the moment (can be challenging plan for them) or a planned time in a few days.

Training, or buddying with another group for a couple of hours - career progression kind of thing

jdkramer's picture

Thanks for responding!

Unfortunately, my supervisor sounded very hesitant about granting extra time off.  We are also a bit isolated so going to lunch is difficult and we do already have a training budget, but I'm sure I could expand on that recommendation.

SPalochik's picture

For low-cost gifts you can try something different like the survival straps ( ).  May come in handy if you are out in the wilderness assisting animals.  Also practical gear through Amazon or any other outlet that is purchased and shipped to the recipient.


Setting up or maintaining a person's blog or webpage can be a good no-cost gift.  Also volunteer to write their correspondence or repots as a thank you.  Doing small "menial" or "time-consuming" tasks are great because it affords them extra time by not having to deal with the minutia of the day.

jdkramer's picture

Thanks for these suggestions.  I'll be looking into how I can implement them.  You make a good point about lending a hand to lighten their work load.

_Ryan_'s picture

I make a point to send directs a written thank you (e-mail) when they do exceptional work and include specific details of what they accomplished and how it went above and beyond their assigned tasks.  These seem to be appreciated and make it much easier come review time since I have a written record of great accomplishments.

gearhead86's picture
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M&M (and Ryan earlier) have mentioned hand written "Thank You" cards on numerous occasions. 

On the spot verbal recognition (e.g., positive feedback) is also effective.   It's great to hear that your hard efforts haven't gone unnoticed. 

You may also want to consider given them a "token" that they can redeem as a later date.   My old office has a drawer full of inexpensive items that you could pick from.

I've baked cookies for the team, but that may not be practical if your team isn't local.

One of the managers at work had a book giving low and no cost ways to recognize your team.  Some of them were pretty corny, but you may be able to get some ideas from it.   I can't remember the title, but I will try to get the info after he returns from vacation next week.


SMcM's picture
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 I have tried so many things - once we used Costa/Starbucks vouchers - but them staff complained they didn't like coffee/tea/etc...


Something I have tried recently is to simply say that I will either make their cup of tea/coffee at break time. Or that they can leave their cup out and I will wash, dry and put it away. No cost to your company and the rest of your team will see you actually doing something to show your appreciation.




jbdoggett's picture

Is that the book you're thinking of Josh?  It's by Bob Nelson.  (

It has many ideas and talks about the best practices.



gearhead86's picture
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Thanks for the assist.  That's the one I was thinking of.



robin_s's picture
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My boss recently gave me a card in which he wrote "You are the right person for the job".  A small thing, but really, really made my day.  I still have the card on my kitchen counter.  Don't underestimate the power of sincere praise.

robin_s's picture
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awil's picture

A good thing I've seen is to cc an email containing praise to an employee to your own manager. The employee sees that you are impressed enough by their performance to spread the news upwards.

Personally if this happens to me, I save the email in a personal folder and look at it now and again for a boost! (also at appraisal time to remind me of things I should highlight when talking to my manager).

It has to be a genuine piece of praise though for a specific achievement - it can become meaningless if it's done too often or for trivial things or is too generic.