Tommy has been working really hard recently. He’s come in early most days and has been more productive than ever. He is leading his team towards the end of an important project and you want to recognize him for getting it done and for setting a powerful example. But you’re low on cash flow and worry about setting a precedent of gifting cash for effort. Is there something else you can offer to demonstrate your appreciation and motivate him further?

Cathy is a model employee. She does her own work with enthusiasm and readily assists others with theirs as well. You wish that you had ten more Cathys at the office. Is there something simple that you can give her that will demonstrate that you appreciate her?

We all know that monetary rewards can be very motivating. But they are also fleeting and not all that satisfying in the long term. After all, who ever got cash and didn’t think that they could use some more? 

In a recent post we talked about gifting experiences instead of money. But sometimes, even experiences are not in the cards. Or perhaps you want to set a standard that not every good act needs a tangible reward. What then?

Consider gifting privileges. 

When I was a head of school, we introduced a behavior management program that was built around core values. Students who demonstrated behaviors and attitudes that were in line with our values (safe, friendly, respectful and responsible) would receive tickets that could be cashed in for prizes. Some of those prizes were physical rewards, such as a toy or slice of pizza. But many were privileges, like having lunch with a certain adult or becoming my personal assistant for a day. Students were able to choose what they wanted, and many chose the privileges over tangible rewards.

We all want to feel respected and important. And what better way to gift somebody that feeling than by fostering opportunities for them to be recognized and pampered?

Here are some privileges that can go a long way in motivating your team while keeping costs to a minimum.

  1. Offer them high-profile or interesting projects. 
  2. Introduce them to upper management, important customers or key vendors. 
  3. Grant them use of the executive’s office for a day.
  4. Reserve for them a front parking spot.
  5. Gift them an extra vacation day, a work from home day, and/or flex hours.
  6. Name something, such as a conference room, after them.
  7. Run an errand for them.
  8. Stock the break room with their favorite drink or snack. 
  9. Create and give them an award that they can keep and frame for a job well done.
  10. Get each employee to write something positive about the person on a piece of paper, and give them the box of collected sayings, or frame them for the employee.
  11. Give them a new, improved job title.
  12. Allow them to dress casually on Fridays.

Regardless of what you choose, offering these or other no-cost privileges will keep your people motivated and appreciative without breaking the bank.



Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, is an executive coach and President of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. For a free, no obligation consultation, please call 212.470.6139 or email Check out his new leadership book, “Becoming the New Boss”, on Amazon and on the book site, Download his free eBook for understaffed leaders at


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