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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