Motivation in the workplace is more important than ever. In a time when working from home is increasingly common (especially with the rapid onset of COVID-19), it’s essential to create effective incentives for employees and keep them engaged on the job, even when they’re working from their living rooms or home offices.
There’s some debate in the HR world about how similar recognition and incentives are. The major difference between the two is that an incentive is something created before the required outcome, whereas a recognition is given after the behavior has already occurred. However, you can use rewards as a component of your incentives program and easily tie it to your recognition program. Here’s how:
4 Effective Incentives for Employees
Tying incentives for employees to your recognition program doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s discuss the four most effective incentives for employees. These incentives were selected because of their results, impact on employees, and effectiveness. They also seamlessly integrate incentives with recognition, uniting these two critical components of employee engagement.
1. Offer Extra Vacation Time for Hitting Goals
Lack of vacation time is the number one factor that leads to employee burnout. Burnout is dangerous because it drastically reduces productivity, leads to more mistakes, and causes disengagement among employees. This means your employees are more likely to search for other job opportunities and jump ship when you need them most.
If you notice that a particular team member is demonstrating symptoms of burnout, try incentivizing them with extra vacation time for hitting their goals. For example, you can offer one extra day of vacation to your team if they finish an important project ahead of schedule, which will motivate them to complete the work and give them more time to relax afterward.
Extra paid time off is one of the most effective incentives for employees, and it can be good for business, too. Not only does this incentive provide a much-needed break for hard working employees, but it also boosts productivity for the long-term. Even SHRM advises that paid leave is an important tool to retain your current and future workforce.
2. Set Up Department-Wide Competitions
Competitions are a great incentive for employees (especially sales teams) because they bring out the competitive natures of your employees. But be careful: certain types of competition can bring more bad than good, so keep reading for advice on how to set this up effectively.
Here’s the trick: your competition should be structured in a way that encourages team-building and collaboration, not an all-for-one attitude. The goal should be to engage your entire team, not just the people who always hit their numbers. This way, you foster collaboration and competition without turning employees against each other.
An example that doesn’t cost any money is letting a team out early on Friday if they achieve their weekly goals. If your team closes 10 tickets in one day and the goal is 9, let them leave for the day and come in an hour later on Monday. Using this strategy encourages your team to work together to achieve shared goals and boosts efficiency.
Another more individualistic example is setting up a gift swap for participants who hit their goals. The rules are simple: when someone makes a sale or renews a customer for over a certain dollar amount, they open a gift from the pile. After the first gift has been opened, anyone else who makes a sale over this amount can either open another package or steal one that had already been unwrapped.
3. Put Together a Team Outing for Top Performers
One way to create an effective incentive for employees is setting up a company outing for employees who meet all their quarterly goals. Invite these high-achievers to a company outing at quarter-end, like an exclusive dinner or a group activity. This can range from a trip to your favorite sushi restaurant or a night out at an upscale downtown bar to a bowling night or a team trip to the movies.
One great way to send out invitations to this event is to recognize these employees publicly for their efforts. Host a company-wide awards ceremony every quarter to announce the winners and praise those who have gone above and beyond to hit their goals. Knowing they have the potential to be recognized in front of the entire company is one of the most effective incentives for employees.
The best part: not only does this incentivize your team to hit their numbers, it provides a great team-building opportunity for your employees as well. When employees feel connected to each other, they are more productive, innovative, and collaborative.
4. Provide Custom Rewards
Rewards — especially those meant to incentivize your employees — should be customized to the individual. No person will be satisfied with exactly the same reward, so it’s essential to provide plenty of rewards options for your employees.
We recommend implementing a formal rewards and recognition platform that can easily integrate with your incentives program. For example, if your sales team meets their quota for the week, managers can use this platform to send the team points for their hard work that employees can use to redeem for thousands of items and experiences. This method encourages team members to work together toward a shared goal and customize their rewards experiences to meet their individual needs.
Remember to Follow Up
It’s essential that your employee incentives program is closely linked to your rewards and recognition program. After you have created great incentives for employees, make sure you recognize them for a job well done and reward any outstanding behavior you saw while they were pursuing their goals. Recognition is the most impactful type of motivation for employees because it’s emotionally fulfilling. Emotional fulfillment is at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and when an employee feels emotionally satisfied on the job, they are likely to stay at your company longer, do better work, and be more productive. Keep all of this in mind when creating effective incentives for employees.
Erin Nelson is a Digital Marketing Manager at Fond with over six years of B2B SaaS marketing experience. Erin has authored dozens of articles on employee rewards and recognition and frequently researches new trends in R&R. In their spare time, you can find them playing music, reading about socioeconomic and gender-based politics, and listening to true crime podcasts.