7 Ways to Be More Creative With Your Employee Appreciation Jonathan Herrick With unemployment at 4%, it’s essential to make sure your employees feel appreciated and stay engaged. In this hyper-competitive market for talent, you don’t want your best team members to jump ship because they don’t think you value them. If you’re on a limited budget, giving team members a cash bonus or raise every time you want to give them a round of applause just isn’t practical. The good news is that showing you care doesn’t mean you have to back up the money truck. Here are some ideas for expressing your gratitude to employees if you’ve already used tried-and-true methods like the employee of the month club. 1. Go experiential. One of the hottest trends is making company events hands-on. People love trying brand new activities they might never have experienced, especially if they learn something fun along the way. Instead of giving out cash bonuses or prizes when your team meets a big goal, why not arrange a unique experience? Such as a white water rafting event or a day out to check out a baseball game. Hire a pro to organize a great scavenger hunt or bring them on a hike where they can bond together and get exercise to boot. Not only will you show you care but your team will have a chance to grow together in an informal setting. Bonus tip: Make sure to take plenty of photos so you can share them with clients on social media and in your email newsletter. It’s an excellent way to showcase your company culture. 2. Think like Google. Give employees half a day every week to work on a passion project that will help the company grow. Many employees will appreciate a chance to think like entrepreneurs during your “Innovation Lab” time or whatever you decide to call these sessions. Choose a day of the week that’s usually one of your slower ones, so the idea doesn’t fall by the wayside as deadlines loom. You may be surprised at all of the creative ideas your team comes up with for growing the company once you give them time to unlock their creativity. 3. Invite them to bring a friend to work. Hold a happy hour at your company, or, a team dinner together, and ask your employees to invite a significant other, friend, or even their mom or dad. This is a perfect chance to say thank you to the people in their lives who make sacrifices on those evenings when everyone is staying late because of deadlines. 4. Offer them a technology upgrade. We do so much of our work on our devices and computers that the gadgets everyone uses can have a significant impact on their daily happiness. If your team is knocking it out of the park, give employees the option of getting an upgrade to technology such as a CRM or an app that helps them stay organized. It will not only help them do their job better but make their lives easier. 5. Invest in standup desks. Sitting too much isn’t healthy for anyone, and many employees wish they didn’t have to sit at their desk all day. Give employees the option of getting a standup desk instead. Studies show that stand up desks can help reduce back pain, improve energy levels and boost productivity. With the trend growing, there are a ton of options at all price points. 6. Find ways to work outside. With the weather getting nicer, look for ways to hold walking meetings or, if everyone needs to take notes, to meet at a picnic table outside the office. Many employees will welcome the opportunity to soak up some rays and get moving during the day. 7. Give them the gift of fitness. Consider installing a gym and a small stall shower at your headquarters, to make it easier for your team to work out. Small businesses can get a federal tax deduction for creating an onsite gym. Although you will have to invest in the equipment, your company is likely to get a high return on its investment. Most of us feel energized by working out, so your employees are likely to bring that energy back to their desk. Plus, healthier employees have fewer healthcare costs, which may help your bottom line if you provide health insurance. We all spend so much of our day at work that anything you do to improve your employees’ lifestyle won’t go unnoticed. By showing your employees you care about them, you can build tremendous loyalty—a powerful weapon for any small business owner.