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Let me explain a little about this "reward". I don't know if it is common everywhere, but companies in our country often offer some reward at the end of the year (Lunar New Year, or maybe Christmas). It could be: one extra-month salary, reward money, or, in my case, some new year gifts.

I can understand the choice of gifts over money, as I read from Dale Carnegie, a gift makes the employee remember about the company, instead of some money they will just spend anytime later.

But things come out that not easy like I expect. Some of the team members complain (not to the director) about not having the extra-money. Since they have to go working by crowded bus, they have a hard time bring their big gifts home, and they think they'll be happier if getting some extra cash for New Year shopping.

In short, my question is simple: what is the best way to reward the team members in the next year? I also welcome the experience about this situation, since they may bring up some helpful ideas.

Thanks for your time.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

A hard answer is: you won't please everyone. Well, in small team you actually have a chance, but you have to run an extra mile and learn what every individual in the team cares about.

Depending on cultural differences events like parties would be treated differently. I pretty much expect they're received differently in Far East than they are in Western Europe. Another thing is how much people are paid. We got used to think that in IT industry we are typically paid over our healthy minimum so just a bunch of money isn't that motivating. However if you work for someone who is struggling to make ends meet (for whatever reason) you can't go better than just handing them cash/check. But it's all about individual drivers.

One idea which comes to my mind - you may want to set up a budget for everyone to spend on anything they really need or really want which will be bought by the company. You can adjust the mechanism to your specific needs if you want, e.g. it can be a budget to spent on books or such but not on partying. Then, it's individual, it's not money and you can show a bit of company's commitment taking all the logistics (orders, delivery, etc.) out of people heads. And then you can add some small thing to spice the present up.

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you mean that I should spend time investigating what most of team members really need? –  Hoàng Long Feb 11 '11 at 15:50
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If you want them to be happy with what they get - yes. This is by the way one of crucial aspects of motivation: if you want to motivate people you have to learn what drives specific individuals. Throwing the same solution at everyone never works. –  Pawel Brodzinski Feb 11 '11 at 18:33
    
+1 for 'depending on cultural differences'. It's tuff to find a silver bullet for this question in a so cultural-dependent topic... so the best gift will depend on each team member. –  Tiago Cardoso Dec 8 '11 at 18:16
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Some time ago my company did a great party to the employees with a nice celebration.

Some employees had a band and there were invited to play to us.

As it was impossible to give money to everybody (+400 employees), the company did a drawing of cash prizes. It worked fine!

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"a drawing of cash prize"? Lottery? –  Hoàng Long Feb 18 '11 at 7:32
    
Yes, Hoang, something like that. They gave $100, $50 and $10 prizes and other stuff like t-shirts, etc. –  Johnny Feb 18 '11 at 9:52
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Amazon gift card or equivalent for online or physical retailer.

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why do you think this's good? –  Hoàng Long Feb 11 '11 at 15:06
    
It shows you care, gives them a choice to buy whatever they'd like, is convenient for them and convenient for you. –  Mark Phillips Feb 11 '11 at 16:07
    
IMO, there's a subtle diff between reward and gift. Although @HoàngLong asks about rewards, his explanation seems to be focused on gifts. Having said that, I do agree with Mark that a gift card is a good reward, although not a perfect gift. I'd take it as a plan-B in case Pawel's suggestion does not fit for any reason (as suggestion seems to be more gift oriented, and therefore fits better question). –  Tiago Cardoso Dec 8 '11 at 18:15
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If the team has great comradery, mutual respect, and teamwork, then perhaps the best reward would be to have a party in celebration of the past year's accomplishments.

There is more to life than gifts and money, and celebrating the success of members of the team in front of their peers is a great way for a company to show it's appreciation in a less-tangible, less-materialistic manner.

Of course, the company could just cut you a check, hand it to you, and send you on your way, but somehow that seems less exciting, less unique, less creative.

One year at my company, they took us all out to a fancy dinner with an open bar, a meal, and motivational speeches about the coming year. It was great to socialize outside of the office environment and watch everyone "let down their hair."

Everyone is different, and some people will of course complain and will have eyes filled with dollar signs, but the less-materialistic people and the majority of Type Y employees will appreciate the recognition.

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