50 Ways To Reward Top Performers at Work
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Recently, a number of plant managers have asked about ideas for acknowledging and rewarding high performing employees. This is a mark of a great leader. That is one that recognizes his or her own inefficiencies and works diligently toward improving them. So here are 50 Ways To Reward Top Performers at Work without money or rather without giving them a raise.

The ability to recognize an employee’s improvements and reward them accordingly requires an interpersonal skillset. These skills will grow as managers and leaders interact with employees on a regular basis. As these skills grow, this article will become a handy “bag of tricks” that can be used to inspire employees and to maintain morale and momentum.

50 Ways To Reward Employees


1. Lunch With The Boss

Reward top performers with a listening ear and an open mind during a celebratory lunch.

2. Team Shopping Spree

“If you hit a number-based milestone, such as a sales goal, take that number and use it as the basis for a celebration. Let’s say it’s 16,425. Take everyone to the mall. Give each employee $164.25 with these rules: you have 164.25 minutes to spend as much of the money as possible and you must spend the money on yourself (not kids, not a spouse – nobody but yourself). Have them meet you in the middle of the mall when time is up for a show-and-tell about what they bought. Afterwards, go to dinner together.” Jill Evans Silman, MS-HRM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior Performance Consultant, Recruiting Services


3. Give Them A Half Day

Allow employees to go home after lunch.


4. Work from Home Day

Reward top performers with permission to work from home for a day. You can even consider creating a flexible work from home schedule. For example, employees can work two days from home and three day on location.


5. Buy Them Event Tickets

“Try to pay attention to each employee’s interests and provide them with tickets based on what they like. For example, if you have an employee who likes an out-of-town team, get them tickets when their team plays the local sporting team.” Indeed.com


6. Guests To A Gala or Charity Event

If your company supports a charity, buy tickets to a gala or charity event for your employees. They’ll be able to contribute their hard work to a good cause.


7. Invest in Continued Education

Show employees you want them to succeed within your company by providing them opportunity for advancement.


8. In-office Massages

Hire a traveling masseuse and arrange for personal massages for high performing employees.


9. Lunch with the CEO

Arrange lunch with the CEO and give employees the opportunity to ask questions and hear their perspective.


10. Team Service Project

Allow your employees to choose a cause and organize a day for the company to serve your community.


11. Extra Paid Time Off

Grant outstanding employees more paid vacation days.


12. Thank You Meeting

“Call an employee into your office to just say thanks. It’s most impactful if you simply say thanks for a particular thing and nothing else. Don’t discuss other issues; only talk about the good work.” Jill Evans Silman, MS-HRM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior Performance Consultant, Recruiting Services


13. Transportation Reimbursement

Commuting to work is expensive. Reimbursing employees is a great way to recognize their hard work.


14. Paid Streaming Subscriptions

Sponsor your employees relaxation time by paying for a popular streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or HBO Max.


15. Employee Pitch Day

Reward top performers by giving them the stage. Allow them to pitch great ideas and implement the best one.


16. Summer Fridays

Plan something special for each Friday of the summer whether it be grilling burgers, a game day, or a family day.


17. Impromptu Time Off

“Spontaneous late arrival or early departure days are always a motivator. For example, send a quick email that says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it.”” Emily Dusablon, PHR, SHRM-CP, Supervisor, HR Center of Excellence


18. House Cleaning Services

Pay to have a great employee’s house cleaned and buy dinner for their family.


19. Tailoring Services

Pay for a tailor made suit for a nice night out.


20. Prize Wheel

Place a prize wheel in a common area and allow high performing employees to spin the wheel and gain a prize.


21. Meal Delivery

Order a family dinner for an exceptional employee and have it delivered to their home.


22. Time Off Coupons

“Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off as a spot award. Employees can collect them to add up to leaving an hour early one day or coming in late one day.” Chris Brennan, Performance Specialist Los Angeles, California


23. Mentions in Company Newsletters

Brag on an employee’s performance in the company newsletter.


24. Company Swag

Reward top performers with company t-shirts, coffee mugs, a personalized thermos, hats, and hoodies.


25. Watch A Movie At Work

Let employees choose a movie and show it in a common area. Bring snacks and let them relax for two hours.


26. Handwritten Note

Give employees a personal hand written note thanking them for their contributions.


27. Bring Breakfast

Setup a breakfast area for high performers and serve them a meal.


28. Cruise for Two

Give your hard workers exclusive time with their spouse. Pay for a romantic cruise.


29. An Extreme Adventure Day

Send your overachievers on an adventure they’ll talk about for months. This could be zip lining, hang gliding, hiking, rafting, parasailing, and skydiving.


30. A Casual Day

Reward top performers with the option of a casual day where they can dress in comfortable attire.


31. Lazy Monday Morning

Allow employees to arrive at work tardy on a Monday. This extends their weekend.


32. Tech Accessories

Purchase iPads, laptops, headphones, and smart watches for a job well done.


33. Team Offsite

Schedule team building off site activities and make high performers team captains.  


34. Nominated Awards

Consider allowing employees to nominate a peer to receive a quarterly or annual award.


35. Company Trip

At the end of the year, take all employees that reached a particular milestone on a company trip.


36. Birthday Paid Time Off

If an employee reaches milestones, grant them paid time off on their birthday.


37. Project Dump

Take your employee’s least favorite project off their hands and do it yourself or pass it on to others.


38. Invite Their Spouse To Lunch

Plan a really nice lunch for your employee’s spouse and send them both a special invitation.


39. A Gift for Their Child

Buy a gift for an employee’s child. Give them a gift card and let them choose anything they want.


40. A Video Thank You

Create a video explaining all that the employee does and expressing your gratitude. Show it publicly.


41. Family Letter

Write a letter to the employee’s family sharing your gratitude and the employee’s accomplishments.


42. Pay for their Child To Attend Summer Camp

Pay for a summer camp of your employee’s choice for their child and give them a break.


43. Free Day Pass

Create a day pass that allows the employee a free day off whenever they choose. No questions asked.


44. Team Notes

Get the whole team to write something special about the employee on small sheets of paper and give them a “thank you” box.


45. Team Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

“Make employees feel special on their big day. Host a team lunch, throw a small party, pass out cupcakes – there are many simple ways to let them know you care.” Emily Dusablon, PHR, SHRM-CP, Supervisor, HR Center of Excellence


46. Wall of Fame

Begin a company Wall of Fame and recognize employee contributions by adding them to it.


47. New Job Title

Give outstanding employees a job title worthy of efforts.


48. Open House

Create an open house where families can visit the work site and employees can brag about their accomplishments.


49. Hidden Acknowledgements

Hide praise notes around the employee’s work area. Get the whole team involved.


50. Award Ceremony

Host an award ceremony and grant achievement awards to select employees. Invite their families.

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