Too often in startups, we are so busy executing on our visions that we forget to lift up our head, take a breath and celebrate our successes with our staff. The more your reward your employees for desired results (or just because you want to be nice), the more appreciated they will feel, and the more invested they will be in your mutual success.
Below are a few examples are employee rewards that have had success with in my past:
1. Gift certificate to the sales team leader each month, to the store of their choice
2. Employee features in the company newsletter and "shout-outs" at weekly team meetings
3. Celebrate all birthdays with a cake; celebrate all holidays with a party
4. "Lunch with CEO" program for one-on-one time, regardless of position within the company
5. Monthly all-staff event (e.g,. bowling night, happy hour, ball game)
6. Early office departures and mandatory time off around big holiday weekends
7. Employee discounts on the products or services you sell (e.g., "at cost")
8. Open door policy--to walk in with any idea they have, or problem needing solving
9. Free company-paid trip a year for each of the travel agents I had at iExplore--they liked the trip, and I liked the fact they would better sell the destination when they came home
10. Get to know your employees--what do they like, what drives them--and and wrap incentives around such personalized interests
This list could go on and on. The point here is: employees are not simply cogs in the wheel of the day-to-day grind. They are people with interests, emotions, and desires and they deserve the appropriate respect and recognition for a job well done. And, the more you invest in your team, the higher return they will invest back into the company.
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