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Incentives Your Employees Are Actually Interested In

Do you want your employees to strive to do their absolute best for themselves and your company? One way to boost morale and motivate them is by offering a variety of incentives.

Of course, you’ll also want to sprinkle in lots of praise and things that help with internal motivation but offering things of monetary value simply adds to those efforts.

In one study, organizations that offered one or more recognition programs had a low turnover rate of between zero and five percent. Since churn costs companies money, keeping employees happy and engaged results in more profits for your business.

There are many different incentives, so knowing what employees really want is challenging. Below are nine different incentives your employees are most likely to be interested in. Browse through them and try a few or all of them to motivate your workers.

1. Cash


It might sound obvious, but good old cash incentives aren’t something to overlook. This takes the form of bonuses, profit sharing or prize money.

While it’s obvious how to monetarily reward your sales team (they sell X dollars and they get X percentage), it isn’t always as easy to figure out a cash reward system for other teams outside of sales.

Set specific goals for your teams or individuals on teams. In this scenario, if they complete a specific task, they receive a specific reward. If you plan to offer profit sharing, then set goals and explain how reaching these goals translates to more sales and thus a bigger profit sharing check.

2. Trips

For many employees, travel is one of their most desired rewards from an employer. They remember a trip won far longer than they remember a cash reward. This makes sense, as it's a way to build memories and life experiences. Travel improves mood and perks up employee spirits.

If you choose to reward with travel, make sure the terms are clearly laid out. Will you offer only one trip to one employee? If so, how do you decide which one in a concrete way that's not subjective?

Perhaps you plan to offer as many trips to as many employees as meet their goals. The goal should be attainable but challenging.

3. Raises

Offering raises as an incentive is a viable option for many employers. It's a clear way to show your appreciation for a job well done and allows you to really look at how an employee performs across multiple areas.

First, decide how often raises will be offered. Six months is a good time frame for most employees that shows them you notice their efforts.

Next, you must decide on the raise scale. Your company has to remain profitable, but one way to do so is to keep the best of the best.

There has to be a balance between what you can afford and what makes a difference for the employee. A quarter-an-hour raise isn’t that noticeable, but a three-dollar raise might be out of your budget.

4. Recognition

Even though tangible rewards are nice, about 38 percent of people feel the recognition for a job well done is equally important. If you want to please all of your employees, be sure to offer some type of tangible reward along with recognition factors.

This looks like a rewards ceremony where you call people up, praise them and hand out a gift card or prize. This type of dual recognition goes a long way and is something employees strive toward.

5. Gift Cards

Most people welcome gift cards as a desirable prize. Hand out gift cards that a majority of people will enjoy. For example, a round of golf at the local golf course isn’t something everyone will love, but a gift card for a nice dinner out is.

You could also poll your employees and see what types of gift cards they’d be interested in. Or, offer some options. Let the employee being rewarded choose from a selection of gift cards of the same denomination.

6. Branded Items

Pass out items with your company brand on them like they're candy. Not only is this is a nice reward for employees, but it also serves as free advertising for your company. The employee gets a new tee shirt, which they wear and love, and everyone they encounter while wearing that shirt sees your brand name.

Branded items go much further than tee shirts and can include hats, mugs, totes, umbrellas and more. However, don’t just give out branded items as incentives. Employees may come to resent this. The branded items should be like icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.

7. Lunch With the Leader

Once a week or month, spend some time with a single employee. Pay for their lunch and let them choose where they want to go eat. Really invest in your employees and it will pay off in loyalty and motivation.

You can do this a couple of ways. You can simply rotate through your employee roster in alphabetical order or you can choose top performers. If you have a particularly large company, you may need to do group lunch dates rather than one-on-one events.

8. Better Parking

Do your employees have to walk several blocks to get to the office? Choose an employee of the month and reward him with a CEO-level parking spot right in front of the building. This is a nice perk that doesn’t cost you anything but a parking spot, but it motivates employees to strive for that spot, particularly in cold weather.

If you don’t have any parking in front of your building, you could offer to pay for the employee’s parking for that month or upgrade their parking to covered parking or something along those lines. The key is to reward with something the employee will get to use every day they're at work.

9. Education

If you want your employees to be among the best-trained employees in your industry, invest in their education. For example, as they reach specific levels in their careers, you could offer to send them to a conference or pay for them to take a course at the local college to expand their knowledge.

Since higher education or even simple training seminars are expensive, the employee should have to earn this perk by putting in time and/or effort. Many companies reimburse for education only after the employee has worked there six months to a year.

Fresh Ideas for Incentives

These are just a few ideas for ways to reward and motivate your employees. The key to keeping the interest of your workers and engaging them is to come up with new reward programs that push them to always strive higher. Rewarding employees for a job well done is nothing new, but today there are many different ways to offer those rewards.

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Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest design news and always has some coffee in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.