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Rewarding team members in lean years doesn't have to be costly

Implementing some incentives is going to reward your team and maintain their positive attitude toward work, as well as boost productivity.

This year has been nothing short of a roller coaster for our country, let alone our industry. The challenges presented this year have put a strain on organizations, teams and individuals, unlike any other time most working Americans have faced.

With the upcoming holiday season, it is safe to say that it will be difficult to reward your team in the usual ways. Now more than ever, it is important for leaders to think outside of the box and get creative with rewarding and gifting methods. It is no secret that teams are dynamic and that every individual has their own way they prefer to receive appreciation.

In the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, it explains that some team members like words of affirmation, while others prefer gifts. Some employees like to be publicly recognized for their achievements, while others would appreciate a high five or a pat on the back. It can be hard to tailor your rewarding process to everyone's preference, but the benefits are great.

So how do you approach the upcoming holiday season with a positive attitude and a plan to reward your team in ways that they will appreciate, without breaking the bank? We have listed a few different ways to explore employee rewards during the holiday seasons.

  1. Give them extra PTO: Now you are probably thinking, "how are we going to get all the work done if we start letting people have more days off?" It is possible, and it will take some planning on your part to put together a strategic plan for the rotations and the missing team members. But put this into perspective when you think that people typically spend over a third of their life at work. They see their coworkers sometimes more than they see their own family. They dedicate their time for you not just for the paycheck, but because they believe in the vision and mission of your company. So, give them the reward of some extra days off during their kids' breaks, a few days to do things that they want to do, especially around the holidays when gatherings become more frequent and days off more requested. This will reduce the instances of employees calling in sick. These free days can allow your employee more time to spend with family or to unwind and relax.
  2. Give them recognition: Praise and recognition are effective workplace motivators. Many employees work harder when they feel appreciated. In turn, workers who feel that they matter and play an important role to the company they work for, are likely to remain on the team. For those team members who prefer being called out and recognized on a big stage you can really appeal to their language if you reward them for their years of service, days of safety or overall performance. Recognizing employees could be as simple as adopting an employee of the month initiative, rewarding employees with gift cards or giving an employee a pat on the back for a good job. This can be done in multiple ways whether in a large group setting, a newsletter or announcement, or by putting their name/face on your social media platforms and commending them for their job well done.
  3. Company lunch/dinner: This is the year that you may not want to host a large holiday party. Instead, hosting farm-specific potluck dinners offsite or onsite enables you to spend less on the food and get more of small group response by the team. This may give you the opportunity to get to know some newer team members and make yourself as a leader more familiar with the team. Every team has its own dynamics but understanding those will help you to lead that specific team in the best way possible. Keep in mind that some farms do not allow outside food to be brought in due to their biosecurity protocols. If that is the case, designate a main office or centrally located area that you can use for these dinners. Take an extra-long lunch break to sit around and chat or even play some games. Give the team some time to let loose and create memories together.
  4. Continued education or training: Through different web platforms, there are plenty of free or low-cost training events that you can offer to your staff to allow them personal development and growth. This is a great way to show your team that you are investing in them and that you want them to learn and grow within your company. What better way to get them engaged than to allow them to learn tasks that will not only help them in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?
  5. Handwritten notes: This can be a very important form of employee recognition. Recognition not only boosts employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty, resulting in higher retention. High-fives and callouts in meetings are great, but a thoughtful and personal note will really drive home the sense of appreciation. Employee recognition is an incredibly effective way to reward team members for a job well done, and to increase employee engagement rates. A handwritten note is a sure way to make someone's day.

Research shows that non-monetary gifts and incentives play a significant role in the motivation of employees and the culture of an organization. While providing monetary incentives is potentially limited this year because of the challenges farms face financially, work to strike a balance to ensure that your employees are satisfied while working for you. Implementing some or all the incentives mentioned above is going to reward your team and maintain their positive attitude toward work, as well as boost productivity.

Summit SmartFarms is devoted to creating irresistible places to work in agriculture by simplifying the complex for labor and technology. If you would like to learn more about how Summit SmartFarms can help your organization, you can email Kasey or Valerie.

Sources: Valerie Duttlinger and Kasey Sheldon, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of these writers are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.
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