9 Effective Employee Incentive Ideas to Motivate Your Team

In the age of quiet quitting, employers need to do more to get the most out of their employees.  Investing in employee incentive ideas is a great way to boost motivation and morale in your workplace. You want to get the best out of your employees every day: giving them an additional incentive to reach goals and improve their performance is the kind of positive reinforcement that encourages team members to do their best work. 

In this article, we’ll dive into what employee incentives are, what benefits you can expect from them, and nine innovative ways to incentivize employees in the workplace.

What are employee incentive programs?

Employee incentive programs motivate employees to achieve specific goals with the hope of receiving a reward. They come in many forms, but the best programs help to re-engage employees in the workplace and result in more efficient, productive team members. 

The benefits of employee incentive programs

Starting an employee incentive program in your workplace has many benefits that will have a lasting impact. Incentives are an effective way to motivate your employees and create a positive work environment. 

Here are some perks you and your employees will get when you invest in an employee incentive program:

Improve productivity 

You’re motivating your employees to meet specific, measurable goals by offering incentives. Employees will more likely strive to reach their goals because the incentives push them forward. A study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that when businesses use incentive and reward programs, their productivity rates increase by 22%. Incentives drive employees to create high-quality work efficiently. 

Increase revenue

It’s a straight line between employees who work harder and smarter and an increase in revenue. A study by the Harvard Business Review found employee incentive programs increased company revenue by an average of 44%. When employees are more engaged and productive, you can lower production and labor costs and improve customer service—all great ways to increase revenue. 

Improve employee engagement and happiness

The Incentive Research Foundation survey found that businesses with incentive programs that recognize employees for their achievements and contributions to the business had levels of employee engagement 89% higher than those without incentive programs.

An incentive program that shows you genuinely care about your employees as much as you care about the business is invaluable. When you make your employees feel appreciated, you’ll see they’re happier at work. You’ll see employee satisfaction, engagement, morale, and happiness improve

Reduce employee turnover and improve recruiting

Employees are looking at a lot of different factors when looking for a new job—or deciding whether or not they should look for a new one.

Employee incentives are a great way to encourage employees to stay and attract top talent to your business. The Incentive Research Foundation found that retention and loyalty increase in companies with incentive programs compared to those without incentives (an 87% and 85% increase, respectively). 

9 employee incentive ideas to motivate your team

The benefits of employee incentive programs are worth the investment for your business. But when it comes to incentive programs, where do you start? There are many different employee incentive programs—knowing which you should use can be overwhelming. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are nine employee incentive ideas to help you motivate your team:

1. A recognition and reward system

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to recognize employees for their hard work. Thirty-five percent of employees want more recognition in the workplace, and 69% said recognition is why they stay at their current job. Think of ways you can recognize your employees on an ongoing basis. 

It could be as simple as saying thank you when you see them doing great work, or shouting them out in your company newsletter or social media. Not only is this a low-cost way to show your appreciation, but also meaningful to employees.

2. Bonuses 

Who doesn’t like a bit of extra cash in their pocket? It should come as no surprise that a monetary bonus can be an extremely powerful motivator. Sixty-five percent of employees prefer rewarding bonuses based on personal performance versus company-wide performance, which helps get every employee to do their best work. 

With a bonus-based incentive program, you must make all the requirements clear to your team to avoid confusion and disappointment. As with all rewards programs, goals should be challenging, but they should be attainable.  

3. Wellness initiatives

A wellness incentive program is a great way to reward your employees for caring for their health and well-being. This can take many forms, but using a centralized rewards marketplace that encourages employees to adopt healthy habits at work and home is the most common. Using a program like WellRight can help you support your employees’ health and well-being and reward them for their steps to improve themselves.

4. Extra PTO

Letting your employees earn extra paid time off (PTO) is a great way to motivate them to reach their goals. It may be one of the most effective ways to motivate a team—90% of employees would prefer extra time off as an incentive compared to other options. Again, there should be clear guidelines for how extra PTO is earned and used, but giving employees time back can boost their productivity, morale, and overall well-being.

5. Fun gifts 

When rewarding your employees, meaningful gifts are always a great option. Consider a points system allowing employees to “earn” certain reward levels corresponding to a certain gift. Gifts should be personalized to the employee and not the same generic gift given over and over. For example, a gift card or gift basket from a local coffee shop is a great choice if your employee comes to work with a coffee every day. But that gift won’t suit the employee who doesn’t drink coffee.

6. Travel incentives 

An employee travel incentive program is a highly desirable reward for many people. These typically take the form of paid-for trips earned by individuals or teams who’ve reached a predetermined set of goals in a certain period. While this might not be something you can do on a large scale, try to consider incorporating a travel incentive into your workplace—a night’s stay at a local hotel is still a great getaway.

7. Meaningful experiences 

Working towards a fun experience is another great way to motivate employees to reach their goals. Experiential rewards include:

  • A weekend getaway
  • Concert tickets
  • A spa day
  • Sports tickets
  • A dinner-and-a-movie package

Employees can look forward to these unique experiences outside of work while giving their best at work.

8. Company swag

Company swag or merchandise sometimes gets a bad rap. But the reality is that, when done right, company swag can be a great motivator. Before deciding what to put your logo on, think about what would resonate with your team. Employee incentive programs are always more effective when the reward is something that employees want or need.

9. Employee of the month program

Employee of the month is a monthly award given to an employee to show they’ve done excellent work. You can pair your employee of the month program with other employee incentive ideas like social recognition, bonuses, or fun gifts.

Easily integrate employee incentives into your business

With Homebase, recognizing your team for their contributions will become second nature. The built-in communication app lets you give your employee shout-outs for a job well done. Keep track of performance metrics to recognize which employees are working toward a reward. 

Create a great place to work with Homebase. Get started for free.

Employee incentive ideas FAQs

Do employee incentives always have to cost money?

No, employee incentives don’t have to cost you money. Employee recognition programs, where you privately and publicly thank and praise your employees, are excellent incentives that boost employee happiness, productivity, and morale. While some may have a cost associated for things like plaques or gift cards, it’s also possible to have a completely free program.

Can employee incentives positively impact employee performance?

Yes, employee incentive programs can positively impact employee performance. When done correctly, employee incentives can push team members to do their best work while also boosting overall morale and happiness in the workplace.

What tools can support your employee incentive program?

Homebase can help support employee incentive programs. The Homebase communication app lets you shout out to your employees privately and to the whole team. And, the performance tracker can help you decide which employees are meeting and exceeding expectations.

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