How Entrepreneurs can Appreciate, Reward and Improve Mental Wellbeing at Work

By Craig Bulow, founder of Corporate Away Days.


For entrepreneurs with startups it important to recognise the cultural shift that is happening in business as leaders are recognising the need to implement wellbeing initiatives.


Rewarding your staff is a sure way to improve employee motivation, create an appreciative working culture and an atmosphere which improves overall company productivity and employee wellbeing.  This is something to build into your business culture from the very beginning.


Our Prime Minister has pledged to offer businesses a Tax Relief for companies which have wellbeing initiatives, which is indicative of the cultural shift.


Employee wellbeing is not just mindfulness and health, it is also reward and recognition. Let’s review a sample of approaches that you can use in your startup or growth business:



Appreciating Personal Wins

Don’t just appreciate employees for what they do for you – appreciate them beyond their work as well.  If they’ve achieved a milestone in their lives outside the office, celebrate with them in the office. Decorate their cubicle with balloons and cards when they achieve a personal win, like completing a marathon, winning a tournament, losing weight (if they’ve been public with their diet), having a baby, buying a new home or graduating from a class.


Having a Fun Trophy

Fun, laughter and recognition. Get a big trophy and give it to the employee you are recognizing for the month. At the end of the month, they must return the trophy – but they need to add one thing to it. (You would be shocked how many things can stick to a trophy.) Then next month give it to the next winner. At the end of the year, you’ll have a trophy with 52 things stuck to it. It looks hysterical and has lots of memories. Retire the trophy and put it in your reception area. Start a new trophy and do it every year.


Personal Thank You Notes

Saying thanks for something specific may be the ultimate reward. If you do it selectively yet authentically, not on an email, a thank you note may be pinned above your employee’s desk for years. They won’t forget it and will tell others, creating a rewarding and appreciative working culture that pushes others to receive a personal note.


Duvet-days etc

A few extra days off at either Christmas or New Year to enable them to extend their holidays. Or give them their birthday off or a duvet-day – these are effective ways to reward your best employees. The gift of time, which can be spent with family, or enjoying a mini break without encroaching on annual leave is a welcome gesture to most people. As the employer is most likely taking a bit of time off, it’s nice to let some employees have the same luxury.



Corporate Away Days

A corporate away day for individuals across the business instils trust, improves connections and communication, and brings individuals together – something every startup needs.  Mixing different departments is great, or you can reward a specific team if you prefer.


If the away day is exciting, engaging, inspiring and fun the collective experience and memories created will create a new buzz in the office which will spread.


Other employees will want to meet their work targets to be included on the next one. Video’s and pictures from the day, shown in the office, create great discussions other than ‘work in progress’.


Flexible Hours and Flexible Working

If it is feasible why not build in flexible working from the start of your startup? The flexibility can be worth a lot more than cash. Maybe staff members won’t need day care services for their child, for example, if they can make their own schedule. Perhaps reducing the commute into the office can pay for better productivity i.e. time not spent travelling and less stress on the employee.


Financial Reward

Money is the number one satisfier, but appreciation is the number one motivator.


A financial bonus might be given to reward hard work, or for completing a project on time, within budget, and to a high standard, or it may be for a sustained period of great work during your fundraising period or in the first year of your business.. Whatever the reason, cash bonuses are great, they offer a quick and easy way to reward your staff giving them the freedom to splurge on whatever they like.


The downside is that the reward is usually short lived. Once negotiated and is expected/received, in the mind of the employee it becomes already spent and loses the reward value.


When we feel appreciated, we feel better, and our mental health is generally improved. This is why it is so important to find ways to reward your staff and show your appreciation for their work.  If you can build this into the culture of your startup it will pay dividends. Your staff will welcome the support and your business will gain the benefits.




Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Mindfulness / Wellbeing and Reward / Recognition activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.


Every Corporate Away Days event and activity is chosen with wellbeing as its focus, helping to encourage employee engagement, foster connections and build relationships within the business.


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