Part of your job in human resources (HR) is making sure your current employees have everything they need to continue doing their jobs well – and remaining satisfied in the process. One of the easiest and most straightforward steps to take is rewarding your loyal employees.
But what are the best ways to reward a loyal employee, and why is this strategy so effective?
What Is a “Loyal” Employee?
First, we need to define what a “loyal” employee is. A loyal employee is a person who demonstrates commitment and resilience in their job. They continue to do their best even during difficult times – and it seems like they might stay with the company for the rest of their career.
Some of the hallmarks of loyal employees include:
- Years of experience. One of the best ways to evaluate loyalty is simply by measuring time. Someone who has worked for the company for 35 years has demonstrated a loyalty that few workers ever achieve; in fact, the average employee stays at a job for only 3 to 4 years. That’s not to say that someone who’s only been there a year is disloyal, of course, but many years of experience are a clear indication of commitment.
- Willingness to sacrifice. Loyal employees also demonstrate a willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good. They put in extra hours. They give up some of their time and privileges when necessary. They’re willing to forgo their own goals temporarily to lift other people up.
- Commitment through adversity. All jobs are tough at times. There are periods of higher demand, lower support, and miscellaneous other difficulties. Your most loyal employees will stick it out.
Rewarding Loyal Employees
You can reward your loyal employees in many different ways, including:
- Written letters. One of the most impactful actions you can take is also one of the simplest: simply provide them a letter, preferably written by someone high up in the company. Let them know how much they mean to this company and give them some glowing praise. Just make sure you’re writing these letters from scratch – not relying on a template.
- A free meal. Another inexpensive and straightforward strategy is to reward your employees with free meals. Ideally, this could turn into a social event; you could sponsor “lunch with the CEO” or bring several people together for a fancy dinner.
- Years of service awards. According to DIY Awards, one of the best ways to reward a loyal employee is with “years of service” awards. When employees reach major milestones, like 10 years, 15 years, and 20 years, present them with a plaque, trophy, or similar emblem to remind them of their accomplishment. These can be displayed on desks and in offices as a showcase to others – and excellent motivation to continue doing their best work.
- A rewards program. You could also set up a more robust employee rewards program. For example, you could have employees earn a special type of currency based on how much they work and what kind of accomplishments they demonstrate. Then, they can cash in that currency for specific items, benefits, or other rewards.
- Time off. Consider a more straightforward approach by rewarding employees with more time off. For example, with each year of service, you could grant employees an additional day of paid vacation each year. This can quickly escalate, incentivizing employees to stay with the company as long as possible so they can eventually enjoy 20 or 30 vacation days every year.
- Increased pay. Though it may not always be in your budget, increasing pay is a clear demonstration that you care about your employees and want to reward them. Issuing an annual raise or merit-based raises is a good start. You may also distribute bonuses based on performance or based on reaching certain loyalty milestones. Any monetary reward is likely going to make a powerful impact.
- New setups. If you have room and the proper budget for it, consider rewarding employees with new setups. You can give your longest-serving, most loyal employees the “corner offices” of your building, or set them up with a bigger, nicer desk.
- Tickets and/or tours. It’s not just about monetary and materialistic rewards. You can also reward your loyal employees with experiences. Consider giving your employees tickets to an important event, tours of local businesses, spa days, or other unique experiences. These will be far more memorable than a simple bump in pay, and they could inspire the imagination of your entire team.
- Special privileges. Finally, consider granting your loyal employees special privileges. You’ll have a lot of room for creativity here. For example, you could give your loyal employees designated parking spaces. You could let them work from home more often. You could allow them to take casual Fridays or even give them the option to come in late on Mondays so they can take a longer weekend.
The Benefits of Rewarding Loyal Employees
So why is rewarding loyal employees such an important addition to your HR strategy?
- Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the best strategy for getting someone to continue a certain pattern of behavior. If you drop a reward occasionally for an employee who demonstrates excellence and loyalty, they’ll be more likely to exhibit that excellence and loyalty in the future.
- An example to others. It’s not just about the employee you’re rewarding. It’s also about setting an example for others. If you shower your longest-serving employees with benefits and rewards, your newest employees will be much more likely to continue working for your company indefinitely.
- Company reputation. There may also be some external benefits to enjoy. If your company consistently rewards its best and most loyal employees, it could earn a better reputation with partners, clients, and customers.
A loyal employee rewards program can instantly make your workforce more engaged. It’s important to continue nurturing your best and brightest employees, while setting a positive example for the rest of your workforce; this just happens to be one of the best ways to do it.