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When Verbal or Written Recognition Works Better than Monetary Rewards

If you ask Jason Sweigart how he keeps his staff motivated, he’ll tell you it starts with good manners.

“Workplace culture has to be positive,” he says. To do that, Sweigart has found that verbal and written acknowledgements are often worth more than monetary incentives. Sweigart runs at small marketing firm in Leesburg, Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C. It’s a small operation and his five employees are mostly tech-savvy, recent college grads working their first job.

Giving a monetary incentive can be a great way to motivate employees. However, most small business owners can’t afford that. Sweigart insists that a cash bonus is a once and done thing, while a verbal or written “job well done” goes a long way.

“Monetary incentives don’t mean much if your people don’t feel appreciated.”

When it comes to verbal and written acknowledgements, remember:

1) Attitude starts with leadership. If the company owner or manager does not have positive demeanor, most likely no one else will either.

2) Express appreciation willingly and often. Let staff know when they are doing a good job. If they are not, fake it till they make it!

3) Write a note to a staff member to thank them for their work, or to encourage them in their work. Commending an employee in front of other staff builds a positive environment and helps increase productivity.

4) Identify an employee’s talent and then assign tasks to which he or she likely will excel. Prepare to be impressed!

5) When giving criticism, sweeten it first with a compliment. “I appreciate that you did the work quickly, but I noticed a few spelling errors. Can you give it another look? Thanks.”

6) Finally, always use manners and mean what you say.

When staff feels appreciated, it helps to build a sense of ownership in the company and its future, notes Sweigart. A positive workplace environment can be the difference between a staff that enjoys their work and one with employees looking for their next job.

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