10 Financial-Free Ways to Reward Your Employees

Studies show that it isn’t just salary that keeps employees showing up for work every day.


When scouting veterinary and RVT job openings, we see the same perks being offered over and over again – a signing bonus, competitive health insurance and retirement plans, annual salary increases, etc.


Monetary incentives are a great way to get employees in the door, but it won’t necessarily keep them there. When employees are engaged and feel valued on a regular basis for the work they do, they are much more likely to stay on your team than to walk out the door in search of “better” opportunity. Here are ten ways to keep your team happy and engaged without putting a dent in your bottom line.


Flexible Hours

Time is a precious commodity that is in short supply these days. Offering your employees flexible work hours allows them to stress less about picking up their kids from day care or studying for those classes they’re taking during their off-hours. Permitting employees to make their own hours while still working their requisite shift can also help employees avoid rush hour traffic, especially if they have a long commute.  A more flexible work schedule shows your employees that you trust them and that you realize their time is valuable.  The concept of flexible work hours is not only ideal for promoting a healthy work-life balance but for increasing efficiency, as well. Once an employee’s work is done for the day, allow them to go home rather than have them stand around watching the clock tick toward quitting time.


Recognition Programs

While monetized incentive programs are great for employee retention, they can cost companies significant amounts of money every year. Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is very effective, and better yet, costs absolutely nothing for your business. In fact, one studyfound almost 60% of employees said being recognized for their work was the best way for bosses to keep employees and promote more productivity. In addition to offering employees a verbal “thank you” for a job well done, sites like Bonuslyand KudosNowempower everyone in the workplace to offer recognition to their peers, their direct reports, and their managers on a social media-like digital platform. An additional studyshowed over 40% of companies that used peer-to-peer recognition saw an improvement in the satisfaction of their customer base.


Gifts that Keep on Giving

Bagels on Monday mornings or buying lunch for your staff every Friday is a wonderful treat, but why not show your appreciation with a gift that lasts? Consider giving an employee to whom you’re thankful for a magazine subscription on a topic they love or a recurring gift like record-of-the-month for music lovers, Sketchboxfor those wanting to unleash their inner artist, or Cairnfor the outdoor enthusiast. These types of gifts not only serve as a continual reminder of how appreciative you are, but they’re also highly personalized, which shows you make the effort to really get to know your staff.


Let Your Employees Lead the Way

Have a vet tech who is an expert on essential oils or a veterinary assistant who moonlights as a yoga instructor? Let them take the lead at the next staff meeting and share what they know. Not only will they likely receive positive recognition for sharing what they know with their peers, but they’ll relieve the burden of planning and running every training session while building a strong positive work culture at the same time.


Team Building

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to team building activities, making it easy to find something that will appeal to all your employees. Choose from an out-of-office excursion like an escape room, bowling, white water rafting, karaoke, or a scavenger hunt around town. Or organize an activity that doesn’t require anyone to leave the clinic like hosting a craft or game night.


Give Employees a Sense of Purpose

It should go without saying, those working in the veterinary field are animal lovers. Why not choose a charitable organization – animal-related or otherwise – to donate to? Involve your entire staff or team in the selection process. Let them recommend which charity that should donate funds to, hold a vote, and then donate a portion of the company’s annual revenue to the winning charity.


Allow Time Off for Volunteering

Take giving back one step further and allow employees to go off-site and volunteer somewhere for a day without having to use their personal time off (PTO). Veterinary employees can feel especially empowered when putting their animal saving skills to use on a volunteer basis. When a company or business supports such volunteer efforts on the part of their employees, it gives employees something to be proud of and to boast about, which can only enhance the status of your company within your community.


One study found when companies either support employees’ pro bono volunteer efforts or match their employees’ individual charitable donations, those employees are more likely to stay with the company and to put forth the extra effort to complete a task at their job without complaint. Better yet, volunteer as a team. The result will be two-fold – giving back to the community while also engaging in a team-building activity.


Offer One-on-One Time

Roundtable discussions and team meetings are a great way to collaborate and share what is and is not working in the workplace, however, one-on-one time with the boss can prove even more valuable by letting your employees know how much you appreciate them. Take time to meet with your employees on an individual basis and discuss goals, objectives, and anything else that is on their mind. Feeling supported and taking an interest in helping employees’ reach their goals is the quickest way to build a loyal team.[1]


Birthdays = Holidays

Who wouldn’t love to have the day off on their birthday? Giving your employees the day off on their birthday so they can celebrate and relax is an excellent way to not only show your appreciation for all the hard work they do but to also promote a healthy work/life balance.


Giving employees that extra day off can also be a morale booster, which, in turn, can translate into better employee retention.[2]


Say It in Writing

Whether you send a birthday card with a handwritten note, a thank you card, a letter detailing a job well done, or write a more formal letter of appreciation for your employee to keep in their professional file, taking the time to pen a personal message does wonders for boosting employee morale. Employees will appreciate the time you took to write a personal message. Plus, they’ll have something they can display on their desk or have for years to come.


While a handwritten, personalized note is ideal, giving employees a shout-out via email or on social media will not only make an individual employee feel special but will incentivize their co-workers to work harder so they can receive some well-deserved recognition, too.[3]


While we all work as a way to earn money and make a living, research demonstrates that money is not the primary reason people stay with their current employer. While being fairly compensated is important, employees want and need to feel valued, respected and appreciated; as an employer, you know it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference!







[1]“Top 10 Non-Financial Rewards to Motivate Employees”

[2]“6 of the Best Non-Financial Incentives for Employees”

[3]“Top 10 Non-Financial Rewards to Motivate Employees”