Leaders can reward employees for jobs done well and show them genuine appreciation and gratitude beyond monetary rewards. Offering time, respect, privileges, and regular recognition can boost employees’ motivation, productivity, and loyalty. Such practices strengthen healthy organizational cultures.

“The reward of a thing well done is having done it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The average person’s first reaction when it comes to rewarding someone is to hand out money. Monetary rewards have their place in the grand scheme of business leadership, but intelligent leaders know rewarding someone is an opportunity to make a true difference in that person’s life or career. The best and most valuable rewards are not financial.

In my leadership coaching books and posts, I’ve often said the best possible reward for a person who does a good job is not what that person gets for it. It is what he/she becomes as a result of that work.


Cash is not always king. 

Monetary rewards are superficial, though often necessary. However, some people appreciate non-cash rewards more, and the rewards that change lives are never material.

Respect Is the Best Reward

A leader’s genuine respect can be one of the most empowering rewards an employee can receive. Respect is the foundation of healthy company cultures focused on leadership coaching. Nurturing it is the duty and privilege of every leader.

When team members know you care about who they are and how they live away from their jobs, they gain motivation and genuine satisfaction in what they do.

How can leaders show true respect to employees?

  • Say hello to them and know their names.
  • Build meaningful connections with them and do your best to help them should they need your advice.
  • Congratulate them on their professional and personal accomplishments.

The Power of Regular Recognition

Organizations offer scores of opportunities for recognition. Leaders can give employees shout-outs during meetings or extol their accomplishments in company-wide emails. A company intranet site is another way to showcase the accomplishments of individuals.

Giving recognition physical form in the shape of a plaque or certificate is also a good idea. Such mementos of success are long-lasting. Provided they’re meaningful, employees can use them to boost their reservoirs of positive references. Depending on a team’s size, leaders can implement award programs.

Time Is More Than Money

Unlike money, of which we can always print and earn more, time is the ultimate resource. We can never make more of time. To an employee who understands this fact of life, the gift of time is the most valuable reward.

family time

Quality time is what gives meaning to life. 

We all know the value of a perfect vacation day spent with our loved ones.

Paid time off or a flexible schedule is a great example of the gift of time. Single parents or those who care for elderly parents know how valuable time-wise flexibility can be in a job. They will appreciate the gift of time more than a monetary reward.

Special Privileges

Privileges like special parking spots or the ability to work from home for a couple of days every week derive their value from practicality. Getting a cash bonus is nice, but many employees appreciate privileges even more. Privilege rewards also don’t stretch company budgets.

Our everyday lives are rife with small, PTSD-causing incidents we tend to chalk up to stress. Traffic is a killer; finding a parking spot can be hell. Some people appreciate it if you eliminate sources of stress from their lives as a reward.


Not only does praise not cost you a dime, but when done properly, its impact can exceed that of any cash reward. Business coaching understands the importance of praise as do leaders who work with executive coaches.

Executive coaching professionals can help leaders discover ways to deliver meaningful, honest, wholesome, and impactful praise.

Heartfelt, handwritten thank-you notes may sound cheesy, but they strike chords with target employees and provide material reminders of their moments of excellence.

Going out of your way to show employees appreciation contributes to healthy organizational cultures. Appreciation and gratitude boost job satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and employee retention.


Back to blog