Employee Incentive Programs

12 Employee Incentive Programs

Michael CameronCompensation, Leaders, Management Tips, Performance Culture


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Employee Incentive Programs

12 Employee Incentive Programs 


Today’s job-seeker has a far greater emphasis than the rate of pay; the focus is primarily on work-life balance. 

Employees want more than promises of advancement and competitive compensation rates, and companies will need to listen and acknowledge those needs if they want to not only attract top talent, but retain them as well. A good way to do this is by offering employee incentive programs.  


What are incentive programs?

There are two types of incentive programs. 

Employee incentive programs are essentially rewards programs that push current workers to try to achieve challenging – yet attainable – goals. They should include everyone on the team and, as opposed to being one big reward at the end of the year, should be several small rewards throughout the year. There are many different options for incentive programs, which we’ll discuss below. 

As well as incentives to keep employees happy, there are also ones to attract new employees to the company. As stated above, employees are demanding more and more from organizations to work for them, so an attractive incentive program goes a long way. 


Are incentive programs worthwhile?

It is common knowledge that happy employees are much more profitable to a business. Incentive programs are an extra opportunity to make employees happy. They also contribute to raised productivity and boosted morale, as employees are more likely to work harder toward a goal if they know they will get rewarded for it. 

As for incentive programs to attract new prospects, if you want to attract top talent, you have to show them that you’re the best choice. Showing them what incentive programs they would get to take part in is a good way to do that. 


What are some good incentive programs to offer?

Before you lay out an incentive program you will definitely need to put in the research. Ensure you have it properly structured and budgeted, and understand that every organization will have a slightly different incentive program that works best for them. Check out this list of some possible incentives: 


1. Better health and wellness benefits

One of the biggest incentive programs employees want is health coverage. Obviously, a healthy employee is a happy employee, and will be more inclined to be productive. Offering a health and wellness incentive program – whether it be dental, vision, or even just a general health fund – is a good way to not only attract employees, but keep the ones you have. 


2. Flexible schedules

More and more, potential employees are seeking flexibility in their work schedules. This could be a window during which they are allowed to start their day, flexible hours on a weekly basis, certain times/days they are allowed to work from home, etc. This is a big incentive program for job-hunters and current employees alike, as a greater focus is put onto a healthy work/life balance. 


3. More vacation time

Everyone wants a vacation, so it’s no surprise that any incentive programs offering more vacation time are popular. These don’t need to include unlimited time off whenever the employee feels like it, but the more generous, the more enticing. 


4. Unlimited sick days

Unlike vacation days, sick days are something that many employees would like to see become unlimited. This would need to be monitored so as to not be abused, of course, but generally not making your employees come in when they’re sick will be better for everyone. The employees will be able to rest and get better, and their coworkers won’t need to worry about catching whatever sickness they’ve got. The employee will also feel much better while recovering knowing their job is safe. 


5. Class cost repayment

Your employees are far more likely to take courses or workshops that will teach them new skills, and help improve other ones, if they know they’ll be reimbursed for it. Offering an incentive program that does this – even in part – will more than pay for itself by making your employees more knowledgeable.  


6. Free gym membership

While this could potentially fall under the health and wellness incentive program, providing employees with free gym memberships – or potentially even having one on-site that they can use – will promote a healthy lifestyle, and also help reduce the problems caused by sitting all day. Additionally, you could consider alternate fitness and yoga classes. 


Incentive Programs 4


7. Parental support

Maternity/paternity leave aside, new parents still need support once they’re back. An incentive program offering free daycare services can be a huge help, and the difference between someone coming back to work or not. This is also a very good time to allow those flexible work hours we discussed before. 


8. Team retreats/outings

Many employees put a good company culture near the top of their priority list. One easy way to help make the culture a positive one is to offer incentive programs that reward the entire team by taking them on a retreat, or on outings. Not only will they be motivated to work harder to meet this goal, but the reward itself will lead to more team bonding. 


9. Free food and drinks

While it may seem simple, providing free coffee, soft drinks, snacks, etc. is a great incentive program. It gives employees options without having to leave the office, and can also save them money, which will make them happier. 


10. Incentives for completing tasks

While most of the incentive programs up until this point have been ways of drawing new employees to the organization, you can also incentivize your current workers to push through to a challenging goal. Some rewards could include: 

  • Attendance awards – the longer you go without missing a day, the higher the reward 
  • Green commute – get rewarded for biking, walking, etc. to work instead of driving 
  • Gifts – a popular item like a gift card always goes over well 


11. Travel incentives

While easily one of the most expensive incentive programs, travel perks do pay off. It’s important to ensure you plan the getaway properly, since they’re usually on the company’s dollar. You’ll also need to be very clear as to who the incentives are intended for, and how they can qualify for them. More on travel incentive here.


12. Pay-for-Performance

A pay-for-performance rewards employees based on their performance and contribution to organizational and departmental goals. Establishing fair and consistent practices in how you reward and compensate performance is critical. More on pay-for-performance here.


Final thoughts 

Employee incentive programs are definitely a worthwhile addition to any workplace. As long as they are properly structured and researched beforehand, incentive programs can motivate employees to be more productive, boost morale, and make the company culture more positive. 

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