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Explore 5 gifts to give employees instead of money. As a leader in an organization, when it comes to rewarding your employees, stop thinking more money and better benefits! Don’t get me wrong, both are important but to your employees, some other things are even more important. In this article, we discuss the 5 great gifts to give employees.

The 5 Gifts to Give Your Employees

By Catherine Adenle

These 5 gifts to give employees are better than just paying them higher salaries. It’s important to note that higher wages won’t cause your employees to become automatically motivated, engaged, perform at a higher level and be highly productive. Motivation, loyalty, commitment and good work ethic are not based on a high salary.

We all have our different reasons for working. Some of these reasons are personal and individualistic. However, we all work to get the things that we need from work. The things we need to obtain from work impacts how we do our work, how we are at work, our morale, motivation and our quality of life in general. To truly care about your business as a leader, your employees need you to give them these 5 gifts to give employees:

  1. Connection
  2. Future
  3. Autonomy
  4. Fairness
  5. Reward


5 Gifts to give employees

Gift 1 – Connection

First and arguably the most important of these 5 gifts to give employees is the need to belong, the need to love and be loved at work. OK, for some people, this may sound a bit too touchy-feely but people crave these things everywhere they go. Employees don’t want to work for just a paycheck; they want to work with people and for people. To create positive employee motivation, as a leader, you have to treat your employees well to show them that they matter – they are your greatest shareholders.

A kind word anytime, a short discussion about their family (if they are willing to share), a brief compliment, including them in things, checking-in to see if they need anything and those individual moments are much more important than scheduled one-to-one meetings or formal end of the year evaluations.

Including them in important issues around the office is always good. To feel fulfilled and empowered, your employees must feel they are contributing to the whole team. Ask your employees what they think, both individually and in team meetings. Everyone has something to offer, don’t deny your employees the opportunity to make suggestions and don’t shoot their ideas down without genuine consideration. When an idea doesn’t have merit, take the time to explain why.

Gift 2 – Future

It’s a known fact that an employee will care about you, your leadership and your business when you care about them first. By creating a culture that allows your people to grow, you are expanding your capacities as a leader. Understanding what people want is essential to being a successful manager, but you must also know how to give it to them, and that takes both will and skill. Giving the gift of career growth is the best gift you can give to your employee.

As a leader, it is your duty to develop your employee in order to be the best that they can be. Invest the time and energy to get them trained or developed. You have to make it your business to know what their career aspirations are. Every job should have the potential to lead to something more, either within or outside your company. Even though they may not need a skill now, be willing to let them develop the skill if they wish because someday, somewhere, they’ll need the skill. You might as well lead them to the path. The more development opportunities you give to your employees, the more likely they are to stay with you as an employer. So, it is imperative that you mentor, coach and support your employees.

Infographic: 20 Things Employees Value at Work

20 Things Employees Value (Infographic)

See Motivate Staff to Continue Developing Skills

Gift 3 – Autonomy

Trust is an important component of leadership and the workplace environment. Autonomy is a good gift to give your employees. It shows that you trust them to do what they are being paid to do without you having to micro-manage them. Autonomy allows your staff to develop themselves and grow in confidence. It does not mean that you don’t care about what your employees are doing.

Autonomy and latitude breed engagement and satisfaction. Practised well, latitude breeds creativity and innovation. Whenever possible, give your employees the freedom to work the way they work best. Given the opportunity, most employees will do extraordinary work. Trust people with “skills stretching” projects even when the outcome is uncertain. It’ll give them a chance to shine or to fall short and grow. Be sure you maintain an open-door policy – do your best to be there for your employees, even if it means setting aside a regular time when all you do is connecting with them.

See How to Give Employees a Sense of Autonomy

Gift 4 – Fairness

As a leader, you can be tough but caring. Above all, you have to give a gift of fairness to your employees. Be fair to all your employees, treating all of them equally, even those you like or do not care for. Knowing how to do this is one of the most important traits to have as a leader in any business. In life, it is natural to favour those we like or those who we feel are compatible with our personalities. However, as a manager, it is necessary to remove any personal feelings from the equation and treat employees equally in every situation. This is possibly the hardest part of being a fair boss. You can easily lose respect if your employees realize that you play favourites in the office.

See Fairness is Good Management

Gift 5 – Reward

As part of the 5 gifts to give employees, this is a gift that demonstrates the word, ‘appreciation’ to them. All employees want to know when they have done a good job. Don’t let the only time you have a serious conversation with them be when they have done something wrong. Let them know when they have done something right. If your employees don’t feel appreciated, they might become disillusioned and feel no incentive to work hard.


The last thing you want is to have a group of employees working for you who feel that they are trapped without the opportunity of any rewards. It is very important to set aside the necessary reward for deserving employees with a raise or a bonus.

See 25 Ways to Reward Employees Without Spending a Dime

Employees, team members and group members want their needs met, they find it difficult if not impossible to focus on anything else if these needs are not met. The transformational leader understands that satisfying all five of these needs may not be easy, but when they are being met, something magnificent begins to emerge – employees instinctively play a bigger game, and show up in a more engaged and effective way.

See 20 Things Employees Value (Infographic)

Now that you know the 5 gifts to give employees, what else can you add to this list? Let’s hear from you by adding your comments below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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2 thoughts on “5 Gifts to Give Employees Instead of Cash

  1. How I wish these things are generally done in organisations and by managers. Unfortunately, some organisations think they have given you the greatest gift of all ‘the work that you are doing for them’ so anything outside that is a plus as far as they are concerned.

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