Team Productivity

16 Creative Ways to Invest in Your Team

Sarah Hansen
January 12, 2015
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How important is it for your employees to be engaged in your company? While attitude and moral may be hard to measure, the Gallup Organization estimated that 22 million actively disengaged employees cost the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity. This is due to absenteeism, illness and other low morale issues. If you add the cost of high turnover, and the need to obtain and retrain new hires, those costs go up even more.

It just makes sense to keep your current people happy, and that often requires a bit more effort and ingenuity if you want to stand out from the competition. You don’t have to break the bank; you just have to learn the value of giving your people praise, a better lifestyle, empowering them, and giving them permission to have fun.

If your people know how much you really value them, they will feel more like your workplace is their business home. To bring people to this mindset, you may have to change how you relate to your team, and find more ways to show them that you truly care about them and their overall well being. This investment will go a long way toward bringing up morale and increasing your company's success. Here are 16 creative ideas you can implement to achieve a more motivated and synergistic team.

Recognition and praise

1. Handwritten notes

Taking the extra time to write a handwritten note can really make someone’s day. After all, most people type emails or text as their primary form of written communication. This makes a written note all the more meaningful. Take the time to recognize and appreciate individuals by writing them a thank-you note or card that recognizes their exceptional work or conveys how much you value them.

2. Award creativity

While it’s o.k. to focus on that winning solution, sometimes people won’t bring ideas forward if they aren’t sure that they are foolproof first. This fear of failure can stifle creativity.

To overcome this, find a way to reward idea generation, even if the end result doesn’t create the desired outcome. For example, the CEO of Calgon created a “Best Idea That Didn’t Work” annual competition. The recipient was rewarded with a trophy at the annual dinner. Of course, people always hoped their idea would work, but they were more open to brainstorming, sharing, and opening up the creative floodgates when they realized they would be recognized regardless of the outcome. After all, sometimes trying out a less-than-stellar idea can lead you to the solution.

3. Put your hands together

Recognizing employees for their hard work and giving standing ovations cannot be understated. Make sure to take time in meetings to publicly recognize those who have contributed to your company’s success. You should also allow people to share success stories and reapply ideas from those who have found the best solution. You can also have nominations from within your team to bring forward stories from others that you would not have know about if you hadn’t asked. The more you recognize your people, the more they give you their best.

4. Give gifts

You don’t have to go to the level of Oprah and hand out new cars. Even small gifts are greatly appreciated. I’ve been in meetings where good ideas are rewarded with $10 gift cards during brainstorming sessions. You may be surprised how even the smallest gifts can motive people. Another idea you can implement is to hand out monopoly money for good work. Your employees can save up the money and use it to purchase rewards or gifts. Find what best motivates your team, and utilize it.

5. Wall of fame

Putting someone’s picture in a frame and recognizing them on a wall is another great way to make them feel special. Decide what success measures that you want to reward, and then create contests. Many companies do this for their top salesperson of the month, but it can be translated into any type of performance.


6. Remember family

Most of the time, people are working to support loved ones. If they work for a team that takes the time to get to know their families, and show that they also value them, then leadership will gain their team's loyalty and long-term commitment.

For example, if you ask your team members to miss out on family time, such as a weekend conference, then take the time to send their spouses flowers or chocolates thanking them for giving up their loved ones over a weekend. If someone has to handle a family emergency, make sure to show them support. If they lose a family member, give teammates time off to attend the funeral and personally send flowers.

While everyone wants to make money in business, keep in mind that your people and their families should come first. This is often lacking in corporate culture, but when employees find a company that really cares, they will stay with them and give them their best work.

Ascent Architecture and Interiors offers flexible schedules so team members can balance the demands of work with family life without getting burned out.

7. Promote exercise

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and bring about better concentration and overall health. Make sure your employees have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of these benefits. If possible, invest in an on-site gym with showers so employees can work out before or after work, or on their lunch break. You can also utilize apps such as FitBit, which measure actives like the number of steps taken during a day, to create fitness challenges. You can motivate people with prizes, such as a free gym membership, for the most steps taken within a certain time frame.  Also, if your meetings are small and the weather is nice, you can organize walking meetings and walk outside while you talk through projects.

8. Create a safe place

Sometimes, just setting up a relaxing place where employees can meditate, or bringing in a massage therapist to give free massages during stressful work surges, can make all the difference. When people get overworked or stressed, their productivity goes down. They can even get physically sick. Instead, create places that allow them to take time to step away from their desk and decompress.

9. Be flexible

People love the freedom to manage their own schedules. One way to reward your team is to offer them the opportunity to telecommute one day per week, or have more flexible hours. After all, who wouldn’t love the opportunity to miss rush hour traffic? You can also reward people with free days off that are over and above their regular vacation schedule.


10. Don’t forget to party!

Make sure to always give people time to have fun together. You can host monthly birthday breakfasts for everyone to celebrate the current month’s birthdays together. If someone in the office is getting married or having a baby, then throw them a company shower. Also, don’t forget to host holiday parties and invite their families, or during the summer host family picnics at the park. Create environments where your team can bond together. You will find when people are comfortable together, they are also able to work more cohesively as a team.

11. Free food

Is your team under a time crunch and working longer hours? Then reward them with ice cream or coffee trollies bringing treats right to their desk. The smallest tasty reward can still make them feel like you understand their efforts and appreciate them.

12. Promote slipper day

While being professional is certainly important, sometimes it’s nice to just be comfortable. Or course, employees should still have their regular shoes to slip on in case they need to meet a client and present a more formal image. However, within the confines of the office walls, make sure to give them special days where they can show off their fun side and bring in the fuzzy slippers.

13. Fun contests

Social contests are often just what you need to lighten the mood. For example, ask your team members to send in their old baby pictures. Then, post those pictures under a “Guess Who” title on a bulletin board. Let the rest of the team try to guess which picture grew up to be their favorite accountant or software developer.


14. Invest in them

Remember to introduce your employees to key people within the company who could advance their careers. Allow them to shadow other areas of your company where they express interest to understand the role and meet new people. Invite one of your top employees with you to connect with important suppliers, or offer to organize a luncheon to introduce them to senior management. Encourage your teammates to offer fresh ideas and perspective at these meetings. When people feel that you are interested in helping them pursue their dreams, they will feel that you are in their corner and will reward you with their best performance.

15. Create mentor connections

Ask your employees whom they would like to have as their mentor, and then do your best to make it happen. People need someone higher in the company to help them with career advice or just to be a sounding board and safe place to discuss issues that arise. Giving your employees the gift of a mentor relationship is one of the best ways for them to know that you care about their success.

16. Play together

The people who play together, stay together. There are plenty of ways to build fun into your workplace. You can organize social outings where people can move out of their regular circles and get to know others within the organization. Whether it’s a ropes course or a pottery-making class, getting people out of their work-place frame of mind allows them to relax and build lasting memories with their coworkers. This will only bring them closer together, and in turn, increase your productivity as people feel happier to be a part of your team.

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