As business owners, or as part of a leading management team, we’ve been conditioned year after year to focus on the customer. In fact, we’re constantly reminded by the old “The customer is always right,” or “Satisfied customers equal success” adage. While that advice can hardly be argued against, one facet of the business isn’t always held in such high esteem – and that’s the workforce.

Some companies have already equated a well-rewarded workforce with increased productivity and work gratification, but an increasing number of them have yet to understand the significance of a corporate award strategy. Often, financial compensation for labor is seen as sufficient. But research has shown that when employee satisfaction is approached as aggressively as customer satisfaction, companies place themselves well ahead of their competitors who don’t put this strategy in place. Work attendance increases – work environments become healthier – work morale rises – and yes, even sales increase! These perks are the direct result of employee recognition.

Encouraging employee performance with awards isn’t as costly as you might think, and with a little “out of the box” thought, you can reap the benefits of administering corporate awards for even more ROI.

For example, while engraved mahogany plaques, gold pans, and coffee mugs are certainly appropriate, a night out on the town’s floating casino or tickets to a lively local event are received just as well (if not better). Other ideas in addition to traditional achievement certificates or pendants could include a year’s worth of free lunches or even a full interview in the local newspaper.

These suggestions may or may not intrigue you, but the idea here is to spend as much time and energy toward rewarding your own employees as you spend toward your customers. Although your customers and employees play different roles in the success of your business, they both contribute to its longevity.