82 Non-Cash Rewards For Health & Wellness Employees When Raises Are Out Of The Question

Stop obsessing about the pay raises you can’t give at your wellness center, corporate wellness business, health club, or yoga studio.Your customers value a fulfilling experience over a low price.

Your employees aren’t so different. Provide a personally fulfilling experience, and the paycheck’s less important.

You’re tying your hands unnecessarily when you assume that motivation equals money – and you’ll quickly hit a wall when times are tough and money for raises and bonuses just isn’t available.

The key is to remember that employees care about appreciation. Respect. Knowing what’s going on. Advancing their careers. Making connections. Having fun. Having time and energy for the rest of their life.

So respond to those needs with these 11 categories of low- and no-cost reward and recognition techniques, and your corporate wellness business, health club, wellness center or yoga studio will have happy employees who are in it for the long haul – even though you can’t give annual pay raises.

Just remember – noncash rewards aren’t one-size-fits-all. Your go-getter high-achiever and your “Old Reliable” never-misses-a-day employee probably value different things. So tailor your rewards to each individual employee’s hot buttons. For example, you could make a list of 5 or 10 items off this list and allow each employee to choose what matters most to them. They’ll probably surprise you!

1) Public and private recognition of specific accomplishments

  • Write a feature about the employee’s results in your company newsletter or post about them on your blog
  • Have the employee give an internal presentation to executives and/or other staff about a successful project
  • Give a speech at an employee event that publicly recognizes the employee’s exceptional results
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note to the employee with specific details about hsi or her accomplishments and business impact
  • Thank the employee verbally – look them in the eye, shake their hand, give specific praise
  • Make a special note for their employee file and send a copy to them
  • Give them a special noncash award to recognize exceptional accomplishment (choose from the ideas below)
  • “Employee of the month” programs, with the reserved parking spot of their choice

2) Keeping them in the loop – what’s up and where they fit in

  • Weekly one-on-one meetings with business updates and feedback
  • Explanation of their likely career path at your business
  • Frequent, routinely-scheduled team or department updates about key business developments
  • Information about how the business plans to grow
  • Information about how the business plans to overcome external challenges
  • Updates about the financial condition of the business
  • Updates about the status of key customers – renewals or issues, for example
  • Updates about known operational challenges that are being worked
  • Updates about the “state of the industry” – big-picture themes
  • Information about competitors and comparisons to your business

3) Recognition of expertise, knowledge, trustworthiness

  • Assign responsibility for onboarding new employees (consider rotating this assignment quarterly)
  • Assign responsibility for training other employees (another candidate for periodic rotation)
  • Have the employee deliver a webinar presentation to prospects
  • Have the employee give an external presentation like a speech at a college or civic organization
  • Assign to a new position with new responsibilities
  • Broaden their current position’s responsibilities
  • Assign additional responsibilities outside their current position
  • Have the employee make a staff meeting presentation
  • Have the employee make an all-company presentation
  • Ask employee to mentor selected employees
  • Ask them to participate in a panel discussion or similar event on their manager’s behalf
  • Implement a “top nutritionist (health coach, trainer, nurse, etc.) of the month” programs

4) Helping them learn and develop

  • Give each employee a book and subscription allowance
  • Give each employee a personal development budget
  • Create an opportunity for the employee to give an internal presentation
  • Create an opportunity for the employee to give an external presentation
  • Send the employee to an industry conference
  • Give more responsibility by expanding their current role
  • Give more responsibility by moving them to a new role
  • Assign them to a new project

5) Identifying and capitalizing on their strengths

  • Ask for their advice – and follow it
  • Ask them to research a problem and make recommendations
  • Ask them to lead a group that analyzes and fixes an ongoing issue

6) Honoring each employee’s preferences

  • Assign employee to especially challenging clients or projects
  • Assign employee to low-maintenance clients or activities
  • Assign them work in areas that you know they’d like to master
  • Don’t assign them work in areas they dislike (and make sure they know it)
  • Ask them to choose their next project or area of increased responsibility

7) Honoring work/life balance

  • When they’re super-busy during peak season, send flowers to their spouses or partners (yep, guys too)
  • Give time off for volunteer activities that are important to them
  • Sponsor company-wide volunteer programs
  • Sponsor ongoing company-wide recreational activities – from fantasy football to bowling to quilting.
  • Donate to their favorite charity in their name
  • Provide free or subsidized breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snacks during busy seasons
  • Give paid “well days” – paid time off that can be used for anything the employee wishes
  • Allow employees to come in late on certain days
  • Allow employees to leave early on certain days
  • Have a picnic or party for employee families and kids (nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.)
  • Swap services with other local businesses and give your employees the gift certificates for the services you receive
  • Give employees coupons for dinner with spouses or partners to celebrate the successful end of a big project
  • Offer free car washes or massage or similar services one day/month

8) Sharing control over their work and environment

  • Work together to develop a new title for the employee’s position (especially good if employees have had to take on the responsibilities of laid-off staffers)
  • Allow them to choose their office (or to choose between an office and a larger cubicle, for example
  • Offer a flexible work schedule so that the employee can come in earlier, leave later, work certain days, etc.
  • Offer telecommuting (full-time or only on certain days)
  • Give unexpected time off – “Great job making Customer X happy again – I want you to take the afternoon off.”
  • Allow them to bring their kids to the office
  • Give them responsibility for developing part or all of a new product or service
  • Create a team goal with a prize like time off or lunch delivery when it’s successfully met

9) Encouraging constructive curiosity and experimentation

  • Give an award for the “best idea that didn’t work”
  • Allow employees to cross-train or temporarily job-swap
  • Ask them to research a problem and make recommendations
  • Ask them to lead a group that analyzes and fixes an ongoing issue
  • Assign them to “ride shotgun” with an employee in another department for a day or a week

10) Having fun together

  • Host fun events (like an office-wide baby picture exhibit)
  • Have a picnic or party for employee families and kids (nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.)
  • Sponsor company-wide volunteer programs
  • Sponsor ongoing company-wide recreational activities – from fantasy football to bowling to quilting.

11) Visibility and interaction with people they respect or admire

  • Invite each employee to a birthday breakfast or lunch with the CEO
  • Take employees with you to visit key contacts at customers, vendors, etc.
  • Create opportunities for employees to work with senior managers in other areas of your business
  • Invite an employee to go with you to local events where you represent the business
  • Ask an employee to attend a local or web-based event in your place, as a representative of the company
  • Have them join local or professional organizations as a company representative and give them time off for related meetings and committee participation

When you emphasize individually-tailored rewards, your wellness center, corporate wellness business, yoga business or health club wins – with happier, more loyal employees and a healthy bottom line.

More Resources

If 82 ideas just aren’t enough, check out Bob Nelson’s 1001 Ways to Reward Employees at Amazon. It’s an excellent resource with a ton of detailed info.

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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