Employee Incentives That Work to Motivate and Engage Your Team

Effective employee incentives show your team you value what they do and understand what motivates them to do their best work. The challenge that comes up when creating these programs is choosing the right incentives for your employees because we are all motivated by different things. What works for one employee might not work for another. That said, some incentives have a universal appeal, and it is these incentives that we will look at below.


Humans want people to notice and recognize their actions and contributions, and many employees say they want more recognition from their employers or team leaders.

Businesses that routinely recognize their employees and their contributions typically have higher employee retention rates, better employee engagement, and higher levels of motivation.

Employers can provide social or point-based recognition. Social recognition, especially in front of an employee's peers, can be more rewarding than cash incentives for some employees. A simple thank you can be enough to motivate employees and to make them more engaged and happier.

A point-based system lets employees redeem points for items in various categories including merchandise, store discounts, experiences, as well as digital and physical gift cards. For example, your business can buy gift cards in bulk for Walmart and allow employees to redeem them for their recognition points.

It is also a good idea to provide a lot of variety in all categories so employees can find something they like.


Even though recognition works well for some people, others respond better to cash incentives. Cash bonuses are not a new idea as they have been used for decades to motivate and engage employees. Their use today shows how powerful and popular they still are. One study by Payscale found that about 70% of workers prefer cash bonuses to other types of incentives.

For this type of incentive to work, the employer, manager, or team leader must state the rules for getting it. They must also make the bonuses achievable and fair so more employees are interested in reaching for them.

Paid Referral Programs

Finding the right candidates, interviewing, hiring, and training them takes time and can be very expensive. If your business is already paying recruiters to find the best candidates, why not ask your employees to do it instead?

They could be responsible for recommending people they feel would be great for the different positions you have open. The employees can get the monetary compensation that would have gone to recruiters while also feeling a sense of achievement by helping the business find the right people for the positions.

Investing in Employee Careers

Many business owners are hesitant to invest in their employees’ professional development because they do not want to lose when the employees leave. What they should realize is that investing in employees is a net positive for everyone involved.

The employee feels satisfied and motivated because they know you are invested, and they are more productive due to their newly acquired skills and knowledge. The business benefits from highly skilled employees who can give them a competitive advantage.

Employee incentive programs have worked for a long time to motivate and engage employees. When creating your own, you must include incentives that your employees will like so they feel like they are working towards something.


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