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5 Low Budget Ideas for Employee Rewards and Recognition

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5 Low Budget Ideas for Employee Rewards and Recognition

Employee rewards and recognition have emerged as practical tools for organizations to build an engaged workforce and drive growth. Despite this, many organizations are concerned about the costs involved in running such programs. However, there are many low-budget ideas for employee rewards and recognition that can work effectively.

Why is Budget Not Critical for Employee Recognition?

Employee Rewards and Recognition

The monetary value of the rewards given to employees does not matter as much.

What matters more for employees is the fact that the organization is cognizant of their efforts and is looking to acknowledge and appreciate the same.

Whatever the budgets, organizations should ensure that the programs are in sync with the expectations and interests of employees.

Employee Rewards and Recognition

Studies have received that well-thought-through, planned and executed rewards on a budget can be more effective in enhancing employee motivation rather than high-value rewards.

Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

Around 85% of employees feel satisfied with a simple “thank you” for their daily efforts and accomplishments. Another study shows that 47% of employees prefer new growth opportunities as recognition for their achievements.

Long Service Award

In a more recent study by Officevibe, 82% of employees feel that receiving praise for their work is better than receiving a gift. 

What are the Best Ideas to Reward and Recognize Employees on a Low Budget?

Here are a few low-budget employee recognition and reward ideas that can help enhance employee motivation and engagement levels:

5 Low Budget Ideas for Employee Rewards and Recognition

1. Public Recognition

Happy Employees

Acknowledging and publicly appreciating the efforts and hard work of deserving employees is the most common and cost-effective method.

Hence, recognition should ideally happen in the presence of the team members of the employee or the entire workforce at a larger event.

Either way, employees feel a sense of pride and achievement, which can motivate them to further their performance.

Such recognition should ideally include a certificate of appreciation and some medallion or trophy.

2. Workplace Benefits

Employee Benefits

Another cost-effective way of rewarding employees is to offer them certain desirable benefits at the workplace for a specific period.

The benefits can be extended permanently in case of repeat achievers, which will also prove aspirational for other employees.

These benefits could include flexible work timings, free pickup, and drop facilities for a specific time, upgraded workstations or even paid training for skill enhancement.

Such rewards tend to inspire others, who can see the benefits gained by their peers thanks to their diligent and sincere efforts.

3. Paid Outing with Family

Family Vacation

Most employees today struggle to balance their work and family lives. In addition, family outings can be expensive, which is why the average employee tends to do them less frequently.

Hence, employees can be rewarded with a family outing at the organization’s expense. This is something that most employees would find appealing.

The venue and type of outing can be decided based on the level of the employee receiving the reward.

4. Time off from Work

Flexible Timings

The highly competitive work environments today often make it impossible for employees to take time off. 

Hence, it can lead to their physical and mental exhaustion and can even cause a reduction in their efficiency.

Hence, a great way to recognize employees could be to give them paid time off from work. Employees could stay at home or indulge in an activity that helps them to unwind and relax.

A few days off will ensure the employees feel genuinely acknowledged for their efforts. 

So it helps them feel valued and thus helps them develop a stronger bond with the organization.

5. Formal Meal with Top Management

Formal Meal

A formal dinner with top management is an excellent budget-friendly way of acknowledging and rewarding employees.

Most junior-level employees are in awe of top-level professionals. Hence, sharing a meal with them as a reward for their achievements can often prove to be quite motivating.

Moreover, this also provides the top management opportunities to interact with high performers and assess their suitability for future roles.

Also read 8 Creative Ideas for Startups to Recognize Employees


There are many low-budget ideas for employee rewards and recognition that can make it possible for organizations to run such programs with a relatively low rewards budget and still get the desired results in the form of enhanced employee motivation and engagement levels.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurship experience. In the past, Sagar has worked in leadership roles with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.