January 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts January 2003 Current Issue
January 2003
Short Cuts:
Affordable Rewards

Pancake parties and other simple spirit-lifters

Slashed budgets, layoffs, worthless 401(k) plans&Yes, times are tough for America’s work force. So what can meeting planners do to pull employees out of a slump? Plenty, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, says motivational speaker, author and columnist Bob Nelson, the rewards that tend to be the most motivating are often the most simple and budget-friendly.

Nelson, president and founder of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego, recommends celebrating milestones throughout a work process instead of just a successful completion. For example, reward employees for sending out a major request for proposal or for getting halfway there on a project. The resulting party can be inexpensive, too. Some suggestions:

  • Have executives serve a pancake breakfast, or invite employees to a local diner for eggs and bacon.
  • Arrange financial planning seminars for employees who are near retirement age. Sessions could include attorneys, counselors and financial advisors many of whom might volunteer their services in hopes of getting new business.
  • Publicize praise received from customers or executives with an e-mail blast to employees, or read letters aloud during a weekly meeting, as is practiced by the Cary, N.C.-based North Carolina Bar Association.
  • Arrange for a group discount at a local movie theater, suggests Mark Firmani, president of Firmani and Associates, a public-relations firm based in Seattle.
  • Put aside time before or after a meeting for positive feedback directed at one employee. Nelson calls this a “praise barrage.”
  • Let workers know you care about their well-being: Offer health seminars such as cholesterol screening, blood-pressure checks, fitness tips and healthful eating advice.

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