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Cutting costs: maximising results

When you need to tighten your reward and recognition budget, don't despair! A little can still go a long want to motivate your people as long as you're creative. Here are the top five ways to give rewards that are meaningful with little or no cost.


Instead of issuing rewards for each activity, give the employee an entry into a sweepstakes drawing. This is a great way to generate lots of activity while maintaining a low, fixed budget. For example: in the month of June, each time a person recognises another colleague, they are entered into the sweepstakes. At the end of the month, randomly draw 10 recognition givers and five recognition receivers for a reward valued at $25. For less than $400, you’ve just increased awareness and activity around the behaviours in your recognition program.

There are many variations on this sweepstakes structure. The benefits are that the budget is low compared to the amount of activity you generate. The budget is also fixed, so there’s no chance that you will overspend.

Leadership Lunch

Many people say that they would be more engaged with their jobs if they felt connected to their managers or had access to leadership. In fact, only 38% of employees think their leaders have a sincere interest in their well-being.

The lunch itself can be very low-cost, but the opportunity to spend time and share ideas with leaders in the organisation is priceless. A bit of caution here though: ensure that the leaders who attend are happy to participate and understand how they are integral to this reward.

Casual Day

This is a great no-cost reward that individuals can share with their teams. To make it special and memorable, create a Casual Day certificate to print or email to achievers. They can redeem the certificate by nominating the date for being casual and submitting it to their managers. Then, just share the date with their entire team so that they can participate too.

Team involvement is important because it helps motivate others; the team becomes more cohesive and creates opportunities to recognise each other. It’s also easy to promote: when employees from other groups see someone celebrating Casual Day, they want to find out how they can earn it too.

Half-day Pass

Time is one of the most valuable assets that you can’t put a price on, and giving someone a few extra personal hours in the day is incredibly meaningful.

This one may seem tricky, as the achiever is on paid leave for the half-day, but there isn’t any outside rewards budget involved. If a half-day is too much, consider a two-hour pass instead. Just ensure that the pass notes any exclusions, has an expiry date and must have manager approval before use.


Badging requires a recognition software program, and it incorporates game mechanics which are essential for motivating and rewarding employees. Data shows that badging is effective across generations, genders and personality types. This is because badges address the basic human desires for status, validation, acceptance and respect. Earning a badge is a symbol of accomplishment that can be shared or made private based on the employee’s preferences in the recognition system.

Creating the artwork for a badge may require a small budget, but issuing them as rewards through your recognition program is completely no-cost.

Your organisation may have other ways to be creative with rewards, and many of those depend on the kind of culture you have. Look for ways to utilise partnerships with other companies, sponsorships, branded items, and access to leadership or high-profile projects. You may be surprised how motivating many of the assets you already have can be for your employees.