Snapped by Todd Everett at a hotel in Michigan, the photograph above is from the website This Is Broken.  Click the image to see the full picture and to read the ironic parking space sign.

Unfortunately, many employees view an “Employee of the Month” program this way.  They view standard forms of recognition as an obligation of the employer.

Which makes any conventional rewards program you offer part of the benefits package and not an actual reward.

That’s precisely why I recommend that you reward your employee in more creative ways.  Paying attention to your employee’s desires should give you a hint about what kinds of rewards will excite him or her.

MorgueFile photo courtesy of Meg Donahue 

Often, the type of thing that will encourage your employee to work harder and can reinforce a good work ethic is an experience instead of a monetary reward.  And being an effective funeral home manager means creating community connections and building favor with local movers and shakers.

“So what?” you ask. 

I think it’s time you started using your connections and calling in favors to create the kinds of experiences that can reward the loyalty of a trusted employee.

Let’s say one of your employees loves NASCAR.  You just happen to know the son of the owner of the big NASCAR racetrack in your state. 

Could you buy tickets for your employee as a reward?  Of course.  But then again, he could buy them for himself.

But if you got him VIP tickets, arranged for a pit pass and got him into a meet and greet with his favorite driver, you’d create an excited employee who knows you appreciate him.

One word of caution:  make sure you let your employee know how many favors you had to call in to create the experience.

No, you can’t exaggerate.  And you should be tactful.  But that private meeting you arranged between your secretary and her favorite author just before a local book signing wasn’t easy to get, so make sure she knows it, in a nice way.

Your employees expect to receive a paycheck.  They expect you to pay for some type of benefits.  They might even expect you to buy their lunch when they work a particularly large funeral service.

But special favors get called in for people who are really appreciated.  Make your employees feel appreciated.

In return, they’ll make your clients feel the same way.