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Employee Incentive Programs Explained

Motivation is a two-way street. If you’re struggling to motivate your employees, it’s important that you remember that they must meet you halfway. That being said, your actions will speak louder than your motivational speeches if you want a successful employee motivation program.

Customize the Gift

To best motivate employees with gifts, you need information.

  • How do they like to spend their free time? Favorite hobbies, watching sports?
  • What’s their favorite lunch or coffee stop?
  • Which would they value more: A morning or an afternoon off?
  • Do they enjoy public recognition?

These questions would be a great starting point to help you put together a motivation plan that makes sense and uses your resources wisely. Throwing a big reception to celebrate an employee who’d be mortified to be singled out by the group is both a waste of money and time. In addition, you may actually be shutting down motivation for that employee and others who prefer to stay out of the limelight!

What Kind of Incentives Motivate Employees?

When determining the best motivational reward to give an employee, start with two basic gifts: Time or money. Is this employee a new parent who’d love an afternoon off to themselves? Is the employee a new grandparent who’d like a morning just to spend with the baby? The gift of time can be a great gift that costs little, but can be a great motivator for all to see.

When giving money, make sure it’s targeted. Provide someone with a gift card to their favorite store. Offer them the chance to get lunch at their favorite restaurant. Turn a regular shopping trip, lunch break or coffee stop into a real treat and you’ll brighten their whole week. With gift cards, even an incentive that is small in terms of its dollar amount can go a long way to show your appreciation.

Do Incentive Programs Work For Employees?

The short answer to this is yes, but again, you must tailor the gift. Make it visible, even if only by email. When someone arrives at a work anniversary, celebrate it by sharing the good news around the office in an email. Consider setting up a group lunch or shared treat in the break room for special anniversaries.

When providing food, make sure you pay special attention to the preferences of the employee you’re celebrating. Don’t bring in barbecue for vegetarians and avoid donuts for diabetics. This seems simplistic, but many “shared” work celebrations inadvertently leave people out. Don’t do this!

Work anniversaries should be special. One of the challenges for employers is to lose people with plenty of skills and training, but one of the challenges for employees with longevity is that they know their job and they make it look easy. It isn’t. They worked hard to build the skills to their work efficiently, so make sure that when you give an anniversary gift that you acknowledge and appreciate their expertise.

What Are Some Examples of Employee Incentive Programs?

You can easily set up special awards for those who go the extra mile. For example:

  • The Extra Mile Award! Thanks for going the extra mile, please enjoy a paid afternoon off on us!
  • Good Catch Award! You corrected that error before it went out the door. Let’s celebrate with a special lunch!
  • Whole Lotta Hours Award! It’s been a long week. Here’s a gift card to your favorite bookstore and four hours paid time off to use at your leisure!
  • Or, with a consumerism points-based approach, employees can gradually earn points throughout the year and redeem them at an online mall for e-gift cards, physical merchandise, event tickets and more.
  • In addition, make sure that you track work anniversaries. Consider giving a travel gift or cash award on milestone anniversaries, such as every five years.

Show your employees how much you appreciate them with employee incentive programs that really work. GoPivot can show you how to keep employees motivated with quality incentives and prevent “engagement erosion.”