Outside-the-box Employee Reward Ideas for a Pandemic

Herve Humler, president & chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., said it best when he said “I believe in the power of recognition and empowerment leading to great employee engagement. And employee engagement is critical to guest engagement. Employee empowerment and recognition is the core of our culture and how we achieve outstanding customer service.” 

With most employees working from home or not being able to go out after work it makes the standard food gift card and movie ticket rewards a little outdated. Here are some outside-the-box ideas for employees who may be stuck at home but still deserve the recognition.

  • Gift baskets – They may be “old fashioned” but they are a thoughtful reward and can be purchased in any price range. These can easily be shipped to an employee’s house continuing safe social distancing. And there are many different varieties of products that be can be included to match any personality and interest. Some favorite places are Edible Arrangements, Milk Bar Store, The Popcorn Factory, and Insomnia Cookies. 
  • Have a meal delivered – this is an easy one. Hopefully you have gotten to you know your employees well enough and know that you can send a cheese pizza to Alex, a burger to Sam, and and order of General Tso’s to Jim and they would be happy. If not, then a GrubHub or PostMates gift card would suffice. Alternately, you can schedule a “team lunch” and have each employee order their own food, to be expensed or not, and have a casual lunch over a Zoom call. 
  • Meal Delivery Services – Why don’t you give them a break on dinner for a week? Delivery meal services like Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh send all ingredients needed for delicious dinners in one well insulated box. This will take the stress off your employee who maybe has been working a little late and has been using DoorDash to get unhealthy fast food meals delivered.
  • Donation to a charity – Making the donation in the employees name if you know of a cause close to their heart will be appreciated by the employee. If you are not sure where they would want that money to go you can use a website like https://www.charitygiftcertificates.org/ and the employee can choose which charity they would like the money to go to. 
  • Handwritten thank you – This is the easiest on the list to do but can mean the most! Taking the time to put something in writing about how much you appreciate someone as an employee will be very appreciated.

The “new normal” is not going to feel normal unless managers and owners change up their employee appreciation and make a more concerted effort to show their employees that they appreciate all the hard work they are doing in such crazy times. 

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