• REBECCA RAUSCH

8 Cheap but Effective Ways to Give Employees a "Warm Fuzzy"

The Take-Away:

Engaging your staff should be intentional but doesn’t have to be expensive.


Employees are not automatons. Don’t underestimate the power of small actions to encourage and motivate them to continue being productive and innovative. Additionally, motivating and engaging your employees can also help your bottom line. Herb Keller, the co-founder of Southwest Airlines, said, “Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” Here are some inexpensive ways to let your employees know you see and appreciate their contributions:


1. Go Out for Lunch

Going out for lunch with your team is a good way to bond and gives employees something to look forward to. If you have a budget, suggest menu options and be clear about which beverage costs will be covered. Potluck lunches may also work if everyone is willing to bring in something. You can provide some encouraging words to your employees at some point during the meal, but leave the rest of the time free for people to just talk.


2. Give Public Praise

We all like to hear a good word about the work that we have done, and it means, even more, to hear it said before our coworkers. Be careful that you practice this with all your employees—if you only praise the same one or two people, that will be noticed and will actually lower morale.


Teddy bear giving a warm fuzzy feeling to a rabbit stuff toy

3. Meet for Drinks

Meeting over a cold beer has been a traditional way for teams to bond over the years. Other activities, such as going bowling or participating in an escape room, will also work, especially if you know one or more employees don’t drink. If a bar is your destination, just keep it small and monitor everyone’s intake (especially your own) so that the event stays under control. Be clear about whether you are paying for anything, so people know that before the event starts.

4. Plan for Small Bits of Fun

Break up the workweek by scheduling optional, enjoyable activities. This could be anything from decorating cupcakes, having a trivia contest, recognizing birthdays, conducting a chili cook-off, planning a bring-your-dog-to-work day, to organizing a book club or walking club. Ask your employees for more ideas! Also, schedule activities to maximize attendance, but don’t take it personally if an employee never participates. Some employees just want to complete their work and go home.

5. Add Additional Responsibilities

Be sensitive to your team’s developing skills. Some could be ready (and eager) for more responsibility and will thrive if given the chance to demonstrate that. Even though one or two employees will likely be your go-to people, don’t add responsibilities to the same people time after time. Also be sensitive to those employees who may be overwhelmed with their current workload. You want this seen as a positive rather than negative.


6. Update Job Descriptions

Job titles and descriptions can be notoriously out of date. Invest in rewriting an employee’s job title and description to accurately reflect the work she is doing. Even if it doesn’t include an increase in pay, employees appreciate that someone has taken the time to recognize what they are doing and update the description accordingly.


7. Be Flexible and Gracious

Everyone has had the experience of hitting a wall and needing a break from work. Be ready to give this to a team member who seeks it. What you may lose in productivity during this time will be more than made up by the employee later when he is refreshed and can work at full strength again. An employee with a balanced life is a happier and more productive employee.


8. Provide Clear Goals and Expectations

Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) for your team helps everyone know what is expected and when projects should be completed. Employees who aren’t given clear expectations will flounder because they don’t know what’s important to you or the company. When employees meet or exceed their goals, make sure you acknowledge that as well.


"Warm Fuzzy" is a tongue-in-cheek term for loving on your employees and making them feel valued and part of the company vision. ALL people need validation, don't keep it from them, pass it out freely.



©Neon Lizard Creative 2021 | Rebecca Rausch | neonlizardcreative.com | 952.452.0168