Sweeten the Deal: Unique Employee Incentive Ideas

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Keep staff members focused on important goals by offering unique employee incentives. While year-end or holiday bonuses based on contributions work as a long-term incentive structure, nontraditional incentives often encourage workers to strive harder in the short term. The following tips offer some incentive options that not only help your top performers display their skills but also help middle and lower performers set realistic goals and gain confidence from accomplishments.

Spot Bonuses

Consider rewarding hard work that goes above and beyond the call of duty with spot bonuses that show gratitude to your staff. By surprising members of particularly productive teams or customer service superstars with gift cards to local restaurants or high-value retailers, you show workers you notice their contributions. Smaller cash bonuses also help you boost productivity and company loyalty.

Reward Programs

Encourage daily excellence with reward programs that add points for completing expected tasks or putting extra effort toward top-priority projects. Be sure to detail how many points workers earn for each goal in a simple-to-understand fashion that avoids confusion or complaints, and pair those points with rewards that accommodate a diverse array of tastes. Use a mix of gift card options, paid days off, and even weekend getaways to give every staff member something to shoot for, from new hires to top-level performers.

Peer-to-Peer Rewards

Peer-to-peer rewards also make a great way to ensure employees do their best. By tying rewards to how well staff members interact and help one another, you can reduce some competitive tension and help your workers truly function as a team. The success of Zappos’ four peer-to-peer rewards programs put into play in 2012 illustrate how programs like this help increase workplace morale while ensuring top-notch service remains standard.

Reward Failure and Perserverence

Rewarding failure seems counterintuitive, but acknowledging a lack of success and celebrating the learning experience can help workers avoid future costly mistakes. This could be as simple as taking responsible team members to dinner and discussing what went wrong in a lower-stress environment. On the flip side, providing perks to staff members striving to succeed at difficult projects often helps push them over the finish line successfully. Ideas for rewarding perseverance include bringing workers pizza if they work overtime or sweetening the pot with day spa passes after completion.

Look to the Future

Invest in your staff using programs designed to make them stronger employees in the future. For example, Amazon’s unique employee programs offer a range of incentives, including a 95% Career Choice tuition prepay that gives staff opportunities to build new skills. This can translate into higher morale and a more versatile skill set for future projects. By providing workers with options for learning and growth, you develop a stronger sense of loyalty and ensure staff members stay motivated and happy.In addition to helping push your business to the next level, workers with incentives tend to stay put and save you money on the hiring process. These rewards can also help you out at year-end by allowing you to deduct employee benefit costs from your taxes.

References & Resources

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