Surprise – the under leveraged resource in the business world

When was the last time someone surprised you with a gift or a nice gesture? 

I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers yesterday from a client and this absolutely made my day! 

Most companies use expected rewards to motivate and reward their employees or service providers. The works: Salaries, fees, and bonus payments.

The problem? People get used to it and they always want more. That’s why people always complain about their salary and their bonus payments. It’s not because they are starving or can’t pay their rent. At least not at top executive levels in developed countries. Today’s payments becomes the new baseline that you come to expect. If you get less, you get upset. If you receive the same, you get complacent and slightly unhappy, and only when you get more, you are happy. 

The only strategy to keep people happy in this setup is by continuously increasing salaries and bonus payments. And it won’t even make people very happy or motivate them to an extraordinary extent. The best motivation is intrinsic, after all.

So how can you show your appreciation or reward your team? Use unexpected rewards! Our brain reacts strongly to surprises. Surprises activate the brain’s reward center without breaking the bank. 

“Surprises activate the brain’s reward center without breaking the bank.”


Here are some simple ideas for surprises: 

1. Give your team the afternoon or day off (spontaneously and unexpectedly)

2. Send some flowers (or chocolate. or both)

3. Send your team members a coupon for an activity they love (tickets for a show they like etc)

4. Send a book ( a fun one, not something dull)

5. Send a hand-written letter or card 

6. Surprise people with a fun joke or activity when all they expect is another boring meeting

7. Allow people to work on a project they like, or eliminate an undesired todo from their list

Surprise is an under leveraged resource in the business world. Try it and you will be surprised.