10 Employee Incentives That Improve Performance in Your Team


Have you ever noticed a decrease in your team’s motivation and productivity? This decrease in motivation is due to burnout from a challenging period. As a result, you’ve observed higher turnover rates, especially among your top performers, and lower productivity throughout your organization.

Many businesses are currently experiencing an increase in employee disengagement, which is caused by tiredness, poor management, or a lack of alignment within the company. It’s crucial to prioritize employee engagement since low morale results in high turnover rates and decreased productivity. Disengagement harms the company’s financial performance. Unhappy employees cost the United States up to $550 billion annually.

Maintaining employee engagement and motivation is vital, and both leaders and HR departments have a significant role to play in this. According to employee happiness surveys, the quality of senior leadership is a top factor, highlighting the responsibility of HR professionals and leaders to provide team members with the necessary tools to remain engaged.

The most important thing businesses can do to motivate staff is to incentivize them successfully. Employees are motivated by incentives, which visually recognize their hard work. When a stimulus is presented, 85% of employees are more motivated to perform well.

Continue reading if you want to learn about your company’s most effective employee incentive programs.

What do employee incentive programs mean

Employee incentive programs are designed to attract, involve, and keep talented employees. These programs offer rewards and benefits to encourage desirable behaviors in your workforce. Examples include tuition reimbursement, increased time off, and flexible work arrangements. To ensure the success of your program, choose incentives that align with the preferences and values of your employees and are consistent with your company’s goals.

The value of employee incentive programs

If you want to raise staff morale and encourage engagement, you need employee incentive programs. Organizations worldwide realize the importance of incentives, with the incentives sector valued at over $100 billion, $46 billion of which is related to non-cash employee awards.

Incentive schemes function because they leverage human behavior. According to a study by Cornell University, providing instant rewards increases a person’s motivation by connecting action with a goal. Organizations that deploy employee incentive programs report a considerable success rate in attaining their goals when the reward is delivered. This implies that your firm has to move beyond merely yearly years of service awards and implement staff incentive programs into your everyday culture.

A study conducted by Harvard Business Review says that implementing incentive programs boosts employee performance by 44%, leading to 66% of employees remaining with the company. Tangible sales incentives result in revenue growth that is three times larger. Additionally, content employees who receive perks are twice as likely to be satisfied with their job.

10 essential Programs for employee motivation

The advantages of employee incentive programs are substantial, but where should you begin? Here are some examples of incentives demonstrated to engage and motivate employees over the long term.

1. Acknowledgment and benefits

In our current situation, recognition has become increasingly important. In a survey, 35% of employees expressed their desire for more support from their organizations regarding credit. 69% of employees cite recognition and reward programs as a reason for remaining in their current position. Organizations with a highly rated culture of recognition are three times more likely to experience increased employee retention and more than twice as likely to experience increased employee engagement.

Despite these data points, organizations are only beginning to recognize that employee recognition is crucial for motivating employees: one in five employers launched a recognition program within the past year.

An employee recognition and rewards program is fundamental to the employee incentives experience because it integrates incentives into the daily lives of each team member. To achieve this, employers should provide frequent recognition in real time. Such organizations are 41% more likely to experience an increase in employee retention and 34% more likely to experience an increase in employee engagement. Most importantly, make frequent recognition simple for everyone on your team by implementing an employee recognition platform that enables recognition from anywhere with the press of a button.

Providing social recognition and monetary rewards is essential to motivate employees effectively. One way to implement financial rewards is through a points-based system.

2. Referral initiatives

Employers often pick qualified candidates by offering referral bonuses to their existing workforce. This incentive rewards employees financially for recommending suitable candidates who align with the company’s culture. Regular reminders ensure a consistent flow of applicants.

An effective way to encourage employee referrals is by implementing a tiered reward system that offers greater rewards as referrals progress through the interview process. Consider using reward points, such as 1,000 points for a submission and 2,500 points for an interview. This approach can easily be incorporated into your current recognition and rewards program.

3. Developing professionally

Investing in your employees’ professional development is essential for retaining them in the long run. This also brings in new knowledge and experiences, creating more promotion opportunities within your organization.

Organizations foster employee growth by creating training programs or using a third-party system. Effective programs offer recognition and training for new administrators.

4. Profit sharing

Retirement or profit-sharing plans involve employers contributing cash or stock to employees’ accounts and also affect direct payments. Employers have the option to decrease contributions for cost-control purposes.

Profit sharing empowers employees by making them feel like proprietors, fostering loyalty, and encouraging investment in the company’s growth.

If a profit-sharing plan is inappropriate for your business, you can still use retirement benefits to incentivize employees by matching a portion or all of their 401(k) contributions. Typically, the quantity of the match is limited by a percentage of the employee’s income.

5. Wellness and health

Companies should prioritize employee wellness by implementing incentives that promote physical and mental health. This is important as many employees are under pressure and need more time off. Examples of wellness incentives include

  • nutritious lunches
  • on-site health evaluations
  • bike-to-work reimbursements
  • standing desks
  • milestone rewards for quitting smoking
  • completing a step challenge

These incentives promote overall health and well-being in the workplace. Encouraging employee wellness is effectively achieved by using a rewards marketplace centralized on promoting healthy behaviors both at work and at home. Integrating different media allows employee wellness, rewards, and recognition to be simplified and made more efficient.

6. Tuition reimbursement

Workers highly value continuing education. A survey by EdAssist showed that 79% of employees consider tuition assistance an essential factor in choosing an employer. Those who used tuition assistance had a higher chance of being promoted and staying with the company.

Offer tuition reimbursement to support ongoing learning and create a culture of recognition. Celebrate employees’ educational achievements with team-signed digital cards and public acknowledgment.

7. Bonuses and salary raises

Rewarding employees with bonuses and salary increases is a great motivator. Payscale research shows that 65% of American employees prefer individual performance-based rewards. Make sure to communicate the metrics and objectives needed to earn the bonus. Balance challenging and realistic requirements, and avoid creating competition between employees to prevent negative feelings and disengagement.

8. Fun gifts

Showing your employees that you care is often done through gift-giving. There are many occasions, such as work anniversaries, customer service week, global wellness day, and boss’s day, that you need to celebrate by

  • offering rewards
  • organizing fun contests and quizzes
  • recognizing and rewarding the most active participants

9. Added time off

Many workers appreciate having time off from work. A survey showed 58% of employees are willing to consider a lower salary if offered something in return. Nevertheless, just 35% of workers use their paid time off efficiently. Motivate your staff to take time off and incentivize them with additional vacation days to avoid burnout and disinterest.

For some employees, flexibility is more valuable than paid vacation, and they are willing to accept a lower-paying job in exchange for it.

10. Project selection

Trusting and empowering employees to choose their initiatives fosters a culture of trust and leads to better performance. Harvard Business Review found that subordinates trust leaders who empower employees—prioritizing trust-building incentives results in consistently exceptional employee performance and organizational support.

For motivating employees, it’s essential to tailor project options that align with their interests and goals. Avoid using a generic approach to incentives. Effective communication between leaders and staff is crucial for understanding objectives and providing relevant projects.

Foster a culture of appreciation

Recognizing your employees’ hard work through rewards helps your company stand out. Remember these three critical factors to make your approach effective: ensure the reward is specific, timely, and meaningful. Authenticity and sincerity are key when acknowledging your employees’ achievements. By providing little perks, you demonstrate to your team that they are valued and support their work-life balance.

Jai Bhatt is a Passionate Blogger, Entrepreneur & Digital Marketer in India. He shares his thoughts on TopMostBlog, WordRankSolutions & HealthBoosterHub. He has been blogging since 2013 & writes about Web Design, Web Development, SEO, Tech, Travel & Health blogs.