How to Make All of Your Employees Feel Appreciated

It can be easy as a business owner to set your sights on the employees that perform beyond your expectations. You may feel the need to reward these individuals for their hard work, but you may be dividing your team by doing so.

Not every employee is going to be a top performer, but that doesn’t mean their efforts are not appreciated. You can’t forget about the staff that contributes in a more silent way, and you need to remember they are just as valuable to your company as the high achievers. So how can you reward your top performers without slighting your other staff? Twelve members of Young Entrepreneur Council weigh in.

1. Make it a team effort

Create a culture where the top performers share their secrets of success with the rest of the team. Instead of creating a competition where everyone is working independently, turn it into a team effort to move everyone forward together. This will help the top performers maintain optimal performance while helping the entire team improve their results. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS


2. Praise and acknowledge all staffers

As an entrepreneur with multiple team members, it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of every person on the team, so I make it a point to highlight each person’s contribution to the success of the company, so no one feels left out. However, the best performer would receive a bigger bonus than the rest of the team. – Kristin MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC


3. Offer one-on-one rewards

Having a remote team, it’s easy to do one-on-one rewards where the person knows they are being rewarded and no one else has to know. I believe it should be this way so that no one feels things are unfair or that they are left behind. – John RamptonCalendar


4. Have friendly competitions

Have friendly competitions where each person’s success is transparent to the entire team, and be sure to keep it light and friendly between your team members. When the team is physically able to see who the top performer is and where each individual stands in comparison, it will give them motivation to work harder and understand why they are not being rewarded in the same way. – Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production


5. Implement company-based bonuses 

A great way to increase the performance of all staffers is to set team or company based rewards. Team goals band everyone together and allow for the top performers to help everyone. We set monthly sales targets for the entire team and it has brought everyone together in a shared goal. – Brian GreenbergTrue Blue Life Insurance, Inc

6. Foster a culture of meritocracy

Hopefully it’s not top performer, but performer(s). From what I’ve seen, the risk is in not rewarding them. As long as incentives are aligned for everyone, there are no biases, hard work is rewarded everywhere and you aren’t cultivating a rock-star mentality, this should be a win. I also recommend that every time a bonus is awarded, focus on the grind not just the wins. – Codie


7. Focus on transparency and team mentality

Foster a team mentality—succeed as a team and fail as a team. When the team does well, everyone shares in the bounty. If there are consistent standouts, no one on the team would feel left behind when extra rewards are handed out if the team’s targets are transparent and everyone knows what part they’re meant to play. – Jürgen HimmelmannThe Global Work & Travel Co.


8. Offer praise behind closed doors

It’s all about discretion. If you’re looking to reward a particular person for their effort and want to ensure this doesn’t create problems within the team, then just do so in quiet. It’s often counterintuitive to celebrate these people publicly, particularly if it’s always the same people getting the accolades, as it can build resentment within the team. – Baruch LabunskiRank Secure


9. Give space and freedom 

Issuing rewards to top performers without creating fractures in a team can be a difficult task. My business model relies on each player performing his or her best in their niche role to avoid competition and increase coherence. Rewards are transparently realized by more space in product development and less supervision—freedom to create where they want and when they want. – Matthew CapalaAlphametic


10. Give them parking spaces

This is an easy way to provide a tangible reward to an individual who excels, without fostering resentment in coworkers. Unlike a pay increase, a priority parking space will demonstrate the appreciation for an individual without causing other employees to feel neglected. Providing a reward that isn’t too grandiose can encourage others to succeed instead of discouraging them with income disparity. – Bryce WelkerCPA Exam Guy


11. Use digital gift cards

 Using digital gift cards allows me to send employees rewards for a job well done without others feeling left out. Sending a digital gift card lets me customize the reward based on the employee, and I know it will be enjoyed outside of work. – Adrien SchmidtOpenBouquet


12. Make it a unique reward 

Make sure that each person gets a reward that is unique to them, that only they would enjoy. When it’s time to reward each member, this is what the other team members will see—that you took the time to make it personal and deliver something that had meaning to each person. – Murray NewlandsChattyPeople



These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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