‘Tis the Season: 4 Ways to Reward Your Star Employees

When you’re not busy spending time with family or inhaling baked treats, the end of the year is a great time to reflect and show your gratitude to those who have made the past 12 months a success. Just like trying to find the perfect holiday gift for a loved one, finding the right way to reward someone can be a challenge, especially when money is not an option.

If you’re struggling to recognize your star employees for their work this year, here are four ways you can do so when a bonus or a promotion isn’t possible.

1. Reflect on what motivates your top performers

While some may disagree, for the purposes of this tip, we’re going to follow the wisdom of the ghosts of management past, present and future and say that money isn’t everything. It’s very likely that your top-performing employees feel this way too.

For most star employees, the biggest motivator for their success is simply the satisfaction they take in diving deep into their work and doing it well.

A great way to reward a highly motivated employee could be assigning them a task that they’ll find both challenging and stimulating. By giving them assignments that you know they’ll enjoy, you’ll show them that you recognize and appreciate their hard work.

2. Trust them

Like the previous point, another excellent way to recognize a top-performing employee is to show that you trust them to get difficult jobs done.

By giving them challenging and rewarding assignments, you’ll already be demonstrating some trust in them. However, this is just one of the ways you can show trust in the workplace.

For example, you could give them more space and flexibility in how they handle their work.

Maybe they’ve been wanting to try a new approach to an established method. Let them give it a shot. Alternatively, you could entrust them with a small-scale leadership opportunity, maybe as the team lead on a new project.

3. Show them you’re invested in them

Another sure-fire way to demonstrate to an employee that you appreciate their work is by investing in developing their skills even further. One way to do this could be offering them access to training, perhaps in areas outside of their daily work.

By doing this, you’ll make it clear to your employees that their professional development is just as important to you as the work they contribute. It will also make it clear that you recognize them as someone worth investing in, and that they are valued members of the team that you want to keep on.

4. Be honest

As a final tip, if there’s someone on your team who you’re struggling to find a way to recognize, the best advice is to be open and honest with them. Express to them directly how much their work has meant to the mission over the past year and that while you would like to recognize them in a traditional way, such as a raise or promotion, there are constraints currently in the way. They will most likely appreciate your candor (after all, who doesn’t like a compliment?). This could even be an opportunity for you to ask them what good alternative for showing them your appreciation looks like.