Rewards programs are an absolute must for teams that want to get ahead of their field’s competitors. One of our favorite statistics reveals that organizations that implement rewards programs see an average of a 34% increase in productivity from their teams, which can be all the edge a company needs.

I hear the cynic in some of you, though… “I don’t think we can afford that,” or, “Well, we already sealed up this quarter’s budget.” The problem isn’t the money you have on hand, but the level of priority most businesses put in a rewards program. It should be a top priority, period.

We recently talked to Focus Technology CFO Chris Caprio about budgeting for culture and the more “intangible” parts of management. He had this to say –

“A lot of people like to put things in terms of dollars, but culture is one that needs to be budget agnostic. It doesn’t mean you don’t have an idea of what you have to spend on it, but it’s a feel like ‘Hey, we haven’t had an event in a while, we’re gonna have a good event,’… We look at it as, you know, in the moment, what’s the right thing to do?”

Budgeting for rewards and culture is a sort of myth – you need to spend what you need to spend to get the most out of your people. When you see a 34% increase in productivity and a 72% lower turnover rate, you realize that adopting a rewards program and recognizing your team is worth any budget. It’s like what they say in stock trading circles, “Scared money don’t make money.”

Perhaps this is all a bit too idealistic, though, and your budget won’t budge. What are some tips for saving money on a rewards program?

The Smart Shopper

As contradictory as it sounds, there’s more to finding a cheap rewards program than simply finding one within your budget. You’re likely one of the hundreds of thousands of teams that operate in a hybrid or completely work-from-home structure, and could use an employee engagement platform to help sync up everyone in the same culture.

Some of these employee engagement platforms already have a built-in rewards program, saving you money by bundling two retention solutions you already need. We here at HelloTeam have a favorite candidate ourselves, and you don’t have to look far to find it!

Choosing your program isn’t the end of the story, however – the incentives themselves also require some planning. The two elements to keep in mind here are the size of your team and the size of their accomplishments. 

Accomplishments come in all shapes and sizes, as should the rewards they return. Someone who’s consistent at their expected work can redeem a small prize, while someone who reaches an exceptional milestone or heads an important project can redeem a large prize. Easy! …unless your team is enormous.

Implementing a rewards program with a giant team on a tight budget isn’t by any means impossible; you just need to be smart about what you offer and make sure never to make promises you can’t fulfill. For instance, rather than giving a certain task force of ten people ten small gifts that they may find underwhelming, group them together and offer them a night out for the same price. You could also simply give them a day off, which could be their favorite gift of all!

Make sure to factor in your workforce’s demographic as well. If you’ve got a mostly male, Gen-X team, a night at a bar or brewery could score well. If your crew is a younger, work-from-home group, they’d appreciate something like subscriptions to streaming services.

When it comes to the prizes on the larger end of the scale, make sure not to skimp. The allure of something like a free vacation or a big bonus is enough to motivate everyone throughout their journey to reach it.

Here’s the fact of the matter: we know budgets get tight and CFOs can be stingy, but the more you put into a rewards program, the more you’ll get out of it. Spoil your team with your rewards program and they’ll spoil you right back with productivity!

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