June, 2019

Many companies incent and reward their employees with cash. Only top performaners receive 100%+ of their annual bonus. Spot awards and gift cards are great for finishing a project early.  Completing your health assessment and participating in biometric screenings and reduce your insurance contributions!

Cash is king. However, the stickiness, engagement and behavior motivation that companies are looking for come in a different from helping employees make fantastic memories with the company, with their spouses and with their families.

Here are 7 strategies for helping employees make lasting memories that incent behavior:

1. Be genuine in celebrating organizational and personal milestones. Do not just hold a town hall and share a slide listing everyone's name. Boring! Ask your CEO to send a personal or handwritten congratulatory card or place a phone call. Send a balloon or flower to an individual's desk. This makes the recognition memorable and creates a story for the future.

2. Hold theme days. BrightHR and Professor Sir Cary Cooper conducted research that said that young employees that have fun in the workplace, from belly laughs to bringing your pet to work day take less sick leave, work harder and are more productive. Hold a theme day like a Prom Party or Pajama Day!

3. Have fun team building events. Take half a day on a Friday or a day that's slow for work to go to an arcade, carnival or even an amusement park. Or have activity based contests like ping pong, nerf darts or chili contests. They may seem silly yet employees are jazzed by them and make memories!

4. Help employees have fun with their families. For example, provide a tool to save for vacation. A vacation savings account is where they can save with paycheck contributions. Even contribute into that vacation savings account as a reward for a job well done. Or instead of giving away cash, give away a weekend staycation at a local hotel or tickets to a concert, sporting event, movie or festival.

5. Take pictures and video, and urge employees to do the same. Make sure they are posted on employee Yammer! Or on social media sites (with employee permission, of course). You can even encourage employees to share their vacation picture showing of your company SWAG. Share those special moments inside and outside of your organization.

6. Recognize the spouse and family. If an employee has been traveling or working many hours of overtime, thank her and provide a reward for her family. Perhaps send the spouse a round of golf or a day at the spa or order meals for the family, or hire a cleaning service to come and clean the employee's home.

Families will be thankful you thought of them and the time sacrifice their partner has made for your company. You could even contribute to that vacation fund anytime a spouse participates in your wellness program too.

7. And most importantly make sure you talk with your employees about time off. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt took vacation during the Great Depression. Make sure that employees are recharging their batteries and taking an appropriate time off and away from the office. Certain employees aren't comfortable with taking time to refresh, recharge and relax and need to be reassured that it's ok and even encouraged. You can't make outside memories if you are always in the office.

When you look back on your career what do you think about? How hard you worked or the fond memories you created with the people you worked with? I'm guessing the latter. Now, if you looked back and said, that company was amazing, I loved working there, the people were family AND I got to go on some amazing vacations all with the company's help! Wouldn't that be your fondest memory?

Employees who make memories are more inclined to bleed your logo, who will happily work 80 hours a week (not that I'm advocating that - but you get what I mean) because they believe in your mission, vision and values - those who give their heart and soul each and every day.

Laurie Brednich is an employee total rewards expert and the founder of the HR Company Store that helps HR professionals find, rate and review vendor partners. She has spent the past 25 years working with Fortune 500 companies create healthy and engaged workforces through great benefits. She has helped companies get onto the Fortune's Best Place to Work List  and has been instrumental in starting health and wellness programs.