All Incentivizing Employees: How to Motivate Your Team to Go Above and Beyond (in 2024)
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Incentivizing Employees: How to Motivate Your Team to Go Above and Beyond (in 2024)

Author: Ravijojla Novakovic Last updated: May 15, 2020 Reading time: 15 minutes

Employee incentives are rewards you offer your employees for their achievements, efforts, and behaviors. They can be monetary or non-monetary, tangible or intangible, individual or team-based. They can also vary in frequency, size, and type. 

The key is to find out what motivates your staff and align your incentives with their needs, preferences, and goals.

In this article, you will discover the benefits of employee incentives, the types of employee rewards, and the tips to design and implement effective employee incentives. You will also get some examples of employee incentives that you can use in your company. 

Plus, you will get access to some templates to show appreciation to your team and recognize their contributions.

What Are Employee Incentives?

Before we dive into the best practices of employee incentives, let’s clarify what we mean by employee incentives. 

Employee incentives are rewards that you give to your team members for their achievements, efforts, and behaviors that contribute to your company’s goals. 

Employee incentives can help you motivate your employees to perform better, reach company goals, work harder, and stay longer. Employee incentives can also enhance your employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty and create overall happier employees.

Employee incentives can range from simple words of appreciation to monetary rewards such as bonuses.

What Is Incentivizing Employees? 

employee incentives definition

Incentivizing employees is when companies motivate them by giving them different incentives.

As motivation plays a key role in the working process, companies use different ways to nurture their team members and allow them to stay on top of their daily activities.

Therefore, many companies have incentive programs to motivate and keep employees content. These programs usually define the rewards a company will give their co-workers for their meaningful work, thus improving morale.

To create an effective employee incentive program, make sure to set clear goals (i.e., think about what you want to achieve with your rewards program), create a budget, and consult with your team members about what type of workplace motivators would inspire them the most.

What are Good Incentives for Employees?

You may be wondering what good incentives for employees are. The answer depends on the employees themselves and their preferences.

While a bonus is one of the most common incentives companies offer, there are various other effective ways to motivate your staff and make them feel valued and appreciated. These include profit sharing, gift cards, positive reinforcement, paid time off, financial incentives, and employee recognition in verbal and written expressions of appreciation.

Remember that great incentives are forms of appreciation that stimulate positive behaviors, help employees feel valued, and demonstrate company loyalty.

How To Incentivize Employees: 12 Best Incentives for Employees

You can incentivize your team’s behavior, actions, and overall work in numerous ways. Implementing employee incentive programs requires knowing how your employees want to be recognized for their work. 

For example, 54% of the workforce prefer verbal “Thank you”, and 31% a written one for their day-to-day accomplishments. On the other hand, 47% of employees prefer to be recognized with a growth opportunity for a significant accomplishment, while 23% would prefer a salary increase. 

Furthermore, there is a difference across age groups among your employees. Millennials and Gen Z are especially keen to be rewarded with career advancement opportunities. Since not everyone likes the same things, get to know your employees’ preferences, gather feedback directly from them, and match them with your goals to adjust your workplace motivators for the best outcomes. 

Here are some of our employee incentives ideas. 

1. Cash bonuses 

Employee bonuses have proven to be a successful incentive. Not surprisingly, 65% of employees prefer bonuses to be based on personal performance. Hard cash remains and financial rewards are among the most popular incentives for employees; however, it is also becoming a norm.  

Ideally, you want your employee incentives to go above and beyond. Jobholders have many options to choose from these days, so bonuses for hitting performance goals should be a part of your standard compensation package. 

2. Student loan repayment plan 

A student loan repayment plan is an excellent opportunity to attract and retain a younger workforce. 49% of Millennials and Gen Z workers would quit their jobs within 2 years. Therefore, try setting up a student loan repayment plan that will take a significant financial burden off your employees’ back but also ensure they stay with your company longer.  

3. Stock options 

Stock options are a great way to offer indirect monetary rewards to your employees. Not only will your employees feel more included in your company’s plans, but they will also work harder for a company they partly own. This is a great employee incentive for smaller and larger businesses alike. 

Many tech giants like Microsoft and Google offer this type of profit-sharing plan as a cost-effective way to motivate their teams and boost morale.

Additionally, offering your employees to buy stocks from your company can serve as a way of protecting against high employee turnover, since this incentive can stimulate employees to work together towards achieving a mutual goal.

4. Paid family leave 

Paid family leave is considered the norm in some countries, while in others, it is still yet to be recognized as a necessity. In the US, paid maternity leave is offered by 34% of organizations, while paid paternity leave is offered by 30% of organizations. 

Use this as an opportunity to attract a young workforce to your company. Employee incentives that facilitate a good balance between professional and personal life are increasingly popular. Show your employees that you care for the well-being of them and their families – it is an incentive that monetary incentives can hardly replace. 

Find out what are some other employee perks that could be great incentives for employees to work better.

5. Extra paid time off 

Employee burnout is a popular phenomenon that’s affecting millions of people around the globe, making them less energized, less enthusiastic, and less efficient in the workplace. Many employees are unfortunately unaware that irritability and low levels of energy are just symptoms of work exhaustion. 

Therefore, extra paid time off could be a great way to help your employees feel happy and more motivated when they are going through burnout. Encourage employees to take extra time off without feeling guilty or at fault.

A generous amount of paid time off was considered a top non-insurance benefit for 40% of US workers in 2019. Again, this is one of the work-life balance benefits packages that is proving very effective in attracting and retaining employees. 

Allowing your employees to restore their energy by offering them extra time off is an amazing way of showing care and appreciation for all the hard work they have done. This can also help you increase employee satisfaction and happiness.

6. Paid vacation 

Along with student loan repayment, paid vacation or travel incentives can be a powerful employee recognition reward for your Millennial and Gen Z workforce. Younger generations love to travel and will be motivated to work for companies that facilitate the travel lifestyle they want. 

Companies such as Netflix, Oracle, and LinkedIn offer unlimited vacation days for their employees and encourage them to take a break whenever they feel a rest is needed.

Nevertheless, if you own a startup or a smaller business that finds this type of motivation a tough pill to swallow, paid vacation is something you can offer to your best employees who have proven their work ethics and loyalty over time.

7. Flexibility 

Flexibility, or the option to work remotely, is becoming an absolutely crucial employee incentive. It was introduced as a great way to reduce the commute, improve work-life balance, and have an opportunity to work from an attractive location. 

However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, remote work became a reality for 61% of US employees. This is why flexible work options are now viewed more as a part of the standard employee incentives package in the upcoming years. 

8. Growth opportunity 

As explained before, the younger workforce highly values professional development opportunities for career advancement. Since Millennials tend to change workplaces more often than other employees, giving them a clear career plan and creating employee development opportunities will result in higher employee retention. 

Furthermore, growth opportunities are amazing for both boosting employee motivation and increasing team expertise. By allowing your employees to sharpen their skills and develop their knowledge in the field they are working in, you can build a strong team of experts who will work towards achieving your goals. 

Additionally, career growth opportunities are imperative if you want your employees to stay driven and motivated, as often, the feeling of being “stuck in one place” can negatively impact their incentive to work.

9. Fitness incentives 

Gym memberships or group fitness incentives are a great way to recognize your employees. Moreover, this type of employee incentive can improve overall employee wellbeing and contribute to a positive work culture. 

Pro tip: Use employee Wellbeing platform to create friendly competition and inspire team spirit while improving your employees’ health. 

10. Personal gifts 

If you want to show your employees’ recognition, try finding out their interests and hobbies. Show your employees how well you know them and how ingrained they are in the company culture by giving them tickets to their favorite show, a book they always wanted to read, or a class you think they want to take.  

You will probably need help from your colleagues in choosing such gifts, but you will spark deep emotions that will tie your employees to your company forever. 

11. Events 

Dinner with the CEO, office parties, or group activities are fun employee rewards that you cannot make a mistake with. These events can be held on various occasions, such as employee milestones, but they can also be an inspiring way to recognize your employees hard work. 

Incentive events allow you to say thank you to employees who continuously exceed expectations more creatively and engagingly. These happenings can also serve as a way for employees to socialize and get to know each other if you opt for a more casual event. Alternatively, you can arrange for your employees to attend a conference where they can learn more about the latest trends in their industry and invest in their knowledge. 

12. “Thank You” 

A simple “Thank you” never goes out of style. Besides being a courtesy for everyday work your employees perform, “Thank you” notes or emails can make employees feel proud of their accomplishments and motivated for more of such achievements. 

It is especially useful to encourage peer-to-peer recognition and a culture of saying “Thank you” among employees since it is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. 

Why Is It Important To Incentivize Employees? 

The importance of employee recognition has been proven many times. Usually, the HR team that oversees employee recognition programs measures employee performance to justify their benefits to superiors. HR Business Partners often instigate employee incentive programs that result in desired business outcomes. 

Luckily, there is a staggering amount of data you can find to convince your executives of the benefits of employee recognition. Notably, 70% of organizations with an employee recognition program tie recognition to organizational values, while 59% integrate recognition into their talent strategy. 

Incentives for employees boost employee engagement 

Disengaged employees cost US businesses $500 billion annually. By increasing employee engagement, you will positively affect other aspects of employee experience, too. 

Employee engagement itself has been a popular topic among HR professionals for decades, and many organizations have proven the benefits of highly engaged workplaces. For example, read how this company has increased their employee engagement by 175% with a Recognition and Rewards Platform JobPts. 

Employee incentives improve employee retention 

how recognition impacts employee retention statistics

In today’s competitive market, companies must be the best employers out there to retain employees. That does not mean only monetary compensation – it means creating a work culture in which your employees will want to stay and flourish. 

According to research, 68% of HR Professionals say that their recognition program positively affects employee retention in their company. Employee rewards can help you save up to 9 monthly salaries that would take to replace an employee in your company. 

Incentives for employees enhance company culture 

Are you looking to strengthen relationships between employees and their managers? Employees say that ongoing recognition of their efforts would most improve their relationship with their direct manager.  

If you want to drive any cultural change in your company, you must start motivating people for behaviors and actions you want to see more of. For example, JTI was able to drive complete cultural transformation by incentivizing its employees with simple non-monetary recognition. Recognize employees for their efforts and encourage a motivated and productive work environment.

Employee incentives foster innovation 

88% of employees who receive strong performance recognition are proactively innovating and are generating approximately 4 ideas in a month to improve their company’s products, services, or systems.  

statistic showing how effective is recognition to inspire motivation in employees

These numbers speak volumes! You probably know how important it is to stay on top of new trends in most industries today. Imagine how fast your company would grow if all the employees were proactively innovative! 

Employee incentives contribute to great employee experience 

Employee experience considers everything an employee encounters in a workplace. The way you recognize your employees’ hard work makes a considerable part of your employees’ experience, making their job satisfaction higher and the possibility of turnover lower. 

Employee incentives raise employee productivity 

80% of employees would work harder if they felt better appreciated. That’s a powerful statistic, and it should resonate with any organization looking to unlock the full potential of its workforce. It is as simple as that – employees work harder when their efforts are appreciated! 

Find out more about employee recognition’s crucial effect on business results.

When Should You Give Out Incentives for Employees? 

The reasons for recognizing your employees should be determined by your leadership. Think of the goals you want your company to achieve, and then deconstruct them. Identify which behavior or actions will lead to greater results.  

You want to give the best team encouragement on the market, thus attracting and retaining the high-quality talent in your company. Also, this way your workplace will be filled with happy employees who will diligently work on their tasks.

Here is our list of reasons to incentivize your employees. 

1. Individual accomplishments 

If your employees achieve their performance goals, you should recognize their accomplishments. For example, your sales rep closing a big deal or your customer rep improving the number of resolved cases are good reasons to reward your employees. 

See how you can motivate and appreciate your employees with our Recognition and Rewards Platform JobPts. 

2. Employee milestones 

There are multiple moments that matter during employees’ journey with your company, such as work anniversaries. This way, you are marking your employees’ commitment to your company, and this is an established practice already. Use your employees’ service anniversaries for informal office gatherings. 

3. Innovation 

If you want to motivate your employees to develop ideas to advance your products or services, give employees incentives for out-of-the-box thinking and innovative suggestions. This will inspire a vibrant, entrepreneurial culture that will be hard to ignore! 

4. Leadership 

Good leadership can make or break a team. Therefore, encourage your leaders to be their best by recognizing their positive behavior. 

5. Teamwork 

Did you know 86% of employees think that workplace failures are caused by lack of collaboration or ineffective communication? Therefore, reward your employees for showing good teamwork skills. Better yet, award the entire team for successfully collaborating on a project. 

6. Referrals 

High-quality hires don’t just happen – they usually come from referrals. Incentivize your employees to give you referrals and thank them for the great candidates they recommended. 

7. Effort 

Continuous effort should be recognized – even if the results are sometimes not instantly visible. The last thing you want is for your employee to give up. Instead, appreciate your employees’ input and motivate them to continue working hard.

Important Facts To Know About Employee Incentives

In this blog, you have learned about the importance of incentivizing and recognizing your employees’ work. Rewarding employees has a direct impact on employee morale, well-being, satisfaction, motivation, and, therefore, business success.

When trying to prove the ROI of your employee rewards programs, the best way to go is to show statistics from existing research. This way, it is much easier to get the executives’ buy-in regarding the importance of employee incentives.

Take a look now at some of the most important facts and statistics about employee rewards and recognition.

If you are looking for a detailed step-by-step guide that can help you build a successful employee recognition program, look no further! Get our Employee Recognition Playbook and start the positive changes in your company. 

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