Top Work Incentive Ideas to Motivate Employees

An important part of keeping employees motivated, productive, and happy in their work is using incentives. What makes a good workplace incentive? Good incentives for work can depend on the unique company culture at your office, but ultimately incentives need to motivate and build morale. Incentives can also shape culture and build not only a productive workplace, but one that attracts and retains happy employees.
Top Work Incentive Ideas to Motivate Employees
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Creating Proper Incentives: Work Incentive Ideas

An important part of keeping employees motivated, productive, and happy in their work is using incentives. What makes a good workplace incentive? Good incentives for work can depend on the unique company culture at your office, but ultimately incentives need to motivate and build morale. Incentives can also shape culture and build not only a productive workplace, but one that attracts and retains happy employees.

Need some work incentive ideas to keep employees at your company motivated? Let’s look at an incentive definition, then some great ideas for good incentives for work.

Workplace Incentive Definition

So what exactly is an employee incentive? This incentive definition might help you identify the right ideas for your workplace:

An employee workplace incentive is some sort of reward—an item of value, desired event, or recognition—that recognizes and encourages good work and promotes productivity in employees. Good incentives for workers show you value the employee—and that you value the work that earned them the incentive. Incentives may be baked into company culture and given regularly as fun perks for everyday tasks, or they may be something given to reward above-and-beyond performances or reaching a specific goal. 

Work Incentive Ideas

Looking for ways to motivate employees at your company? Try one of these work incentive ideas.

1. Free Lunch

When employees hit a specific goal, offer a free lunch for the whole team. It feels great when someone else is footing the bill for a satisfying and delicious meal, encouraging employees to work hard for the fun perk they can share together. A work incentive given for a group goal shows that your company values work toward that goal and encourages teamwork. Food in the workplace can be highly motivating and satisfying. A survey found that 56 percent of full-time employees are extremely happy with their jobs—and that number jumps to 67 percent for workplaces that offer free food at work.

2. Thank You Note

Sometimes a simple, heartfelt “thank you” is all it takes to help an employee feel appreciated. When someone has gone above and beyond, write a quick note to show your gratitude for their contributions and to offer praise. A hand-written note with sincere thanks goes a long way. Employees are appreciative of a simple thank you from their managers, says a Harvard business professor.

3. Gift Cards

Make your message of gratitude and praise even more meaningful, and fun, by tucking a gift card inside a thank you note. Movie tickets and restaurant cards are great options, giving employees permission to have a little fun and celebrate their work achievements with partners and friends. Gift cards can even be more motivating than cash.

4. Public Recognition

Recognition and praise among your peers aren’t tangible, but they are definitely rewarding and motivating. Make a habit of recognizing good work in a group setting. You may even have a rotating award or set of awards given at your monthly staff meeting to bring attention to deserving employees. A survey conducted by Michael C. Fina Recognition found that employees value recognition in the workplace and that performance awards were most helpful in increasing engagement. 

5. Wall of Fame

In the same vein as public recognition, try putting up a wall of fame—similar to the “employee of the month” bulletin boards often found in grocery stores. Create your own categories that jibe with company values and goals, and put up photos and names to recognize great work and inspire the rest of the company. This study found that recognition for good work is more motivating than rewards or gifts.

6. Cash

Skip the lunches and gift cards—and pass the cash down to your employees, whether as a bonus in their paychecks or an actual wad of bills. These kinds of incentives are especially appreciated around holidays. Money is a major motivator, and occasional payouts for great work will be fun, appreciated, and definitely motivational. A study by Gallup shows that one key favorite employee motivator is some sort of monetary recognition or prize.

7. Day Off

Maybe the one thing your employees will love more than cash is an extra day of paid vacation. This may be the right to take an extra day during the holidays or at the end of a scheduled vacation. Or an entire team who met a big deadline early may take a day off to relax and celebrate. Show your employees you value their work by giving them a little extra time to step away, recharge, celebrate their accomplishments, and return for more hard work. One study found that flexibility with time and a generous PTO policy can be even more motivating than extra cash.

8. Local Memberships

Provide memberships to local establishments, such as the gym or recreation center, family fun or entertainment centers, museums, ski resorts, and amusement parks. This promotes a company culture of play and local engagement and encourages loyalty and retention. Make sure to choose services that your employees are interested in—a study by SheerID found that employees were most likely to use entertainment, restaurant, electronics, and subscription-based employee discounts.

Better Focus on Employee Needs with Eddy

HR is a big job at any company, including small and growing businesses. Find the support your team needs and learn more about Eddy’s people management software.

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