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Motivational Incentive Examples for Maximum Employee Engagement

April 30, 2024

Employee incentives play an important role in keeping employees engaged and motivated in the workplace.

The employee/employer relationship is a critical one in every organization. Employees are paid an hourly rate or salary in exchange for contributing some form of effort to the organization in support of its mission, vision, values, and goals. Employers obviously want to maximize their investment in human resources, and are eager to ensure that employees are both engaged and motivated. The more engaged and motivated, the more likely they are to contribute to the organization’s success.

Motivational Incentives Can Help 

There are a variety of ways that organizations attempt to drive engagement and motivation. Motivational incentives are one key tool that many organizations use. There are a diverse range of incentives that can motivate employees. Importantly, employees’ needs and interests will vary based on a wide array of factors from their age and educational background, to their family situation, level of income, years of service, and more.

Finding the right array of motivational incentives can help organizations maximize the value of their investment in human resources while providing a strong and supportive culture for employees. 

There are many motivational incentive examples for employers to draw from when considering how to motivate their own employees. Here we’ll take a look at the various types of incentives employers have at their disposal including monetary, non-monetary, career development, wellness, recognition, team-based, and innovation and creativity incentives.

Monetary Incentives 

When we think about the traditional deal that is made between employers and employees, money is likely the first incentive to come to mind. Monetary incentives have been used for ages by companies as a means of motivating and retaining employees.

These incentives can take the form of hourly rates or salaries, bonuses, profit-sharing, pay raises, sales incentive, and more. Bonuses are generally paid for performance above and beyond basic expectations. Profit-sharing, as the term suggests, provides employees with a percentage of company profits as a way to reward their efforts in helping to achieve these profits. Salary increases are generally given based on performance reviews, usually annual, as a means of rewarding both results and longevity.

Companies can use these incentives in varied and creative ways. For example:

  • A telecommunications company wanted to provide its sales team with highly qualified leads so they instituted an innovative incentive plan designed to engage customers and help sales staff improve their close rates. The program far exceeded its goals, providing salespeople with a 10% meeting rate and 22% close rate—and generated recurring revenue for the company.
  • Fast food chain White Castle instituted a game/content designed to foster team culture and motivate employees by awarded points to team members based on performance in eleven categories; points could be redeemed for a wide selection of rewards. 
  • Google is known for its innovative approach to employee motivation, offering generous monetary incentives, including cash bonuses and stock options, to reward exceptional performance and to attract and retain top talent. 

Best practices for implementing monetary incentives effectively include setting clear, achievable goals directly linked to incentives, ensuring transparency in how rewards are determined and distributed, and tailoring incentives to meet the diverse needs and preferences of employees.  

In addition to monetary incentives, non-monetary incentives can also offer good motivational incentive examples.

Non-Monetary Incentives 

Non-monetary incentives, as the name suggests, are incentives that don’t have a monetary value, yet they still serve to drive positive engagement and productivity among employees. For instance: recognition programs, flexible work arrangements, or extra time off. 

In addition to its monetary incentives, Google is also known for its creative non-monetary incentives to drive engagement and boost performance among employees. For example, it offers a “20% Time” policy which allows employees to spend up to 20% of their work time on personal passion projects. It’s an effort that has led to the development of products like Gmail and AdSense, creating a win/win for both employees and the company. 

Companies like Inspirus offer the option to work remotely, a benefit that has become especially popular since the pandemic. 

Career development incentives have also proven to be powerful motivators for today’s employees. 

Career Development Incentives

Examples of career development incentives include training programs, mentorship opportunities, and advancement prospects. These opportunities are highly valued by employees. In fact, LinkedIn research indicates that 93% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their professional development. 

Especially in a world where technology is rapidly evolving, competition is soaring around the globe, and companies are increasingly looking to their employees for engagement, innovation, and productivity, addressing employees’ career development needs can be a win/win.

Career development incentives could include everything from comprehensive training programs, to mentorship opportunities, external courses, and assistance in helping employees pursue new skills and certifications for both current and future roles. 

It’s important to ensure that career development incentives are aligned with both organizational needs and strategic priorities and employee interests. Regular career conversations, surveys, and other feedback opportunities can ensure ongoing input.   

Wellness Incentives 

Wellness incentives are another type of motivational employee incentives that are highly valued today. These might include things like gym memberships, health screenings, wellness challenges, and more. In addition, financial wellness has become a topic of interest for companies and their employees these days. A Forbes study indicated that 33% of workers ranked financial wellness as their primary area of concern — 24% rated mental and emotional health as their top area of concern. 

Employees who participate in wellness programs often exhibit higher levels of job satisfaction, improved morale, and increased productivity. Wellness incentives can also lead to reduced absenteeism and lower healthcare costs for both employees and the companies they work for. 

Taking a holistic and inclusive approach to providing wellness incentives for employees can help meet their diverse needs and interests — for instance, on-site fitness classes, mental health resources, and flexible work arrangements that support work-life balance. It’s also important to communicate about the benefits and availability of these incentives to maintain interest and ensure high participation rates.

Recognition Incentives

Recognition incentives are designed to acknowledge and reward employees for their contributions and achievements. In fact, studies show that one of the most important drivers of great work is being recognized

Examples include the traditional "Employee of the Month" awards, which often come with a certificate, a special parking spot, or a bonus. Peer recognition programs are another example, where colleagues can nominate and celebrate each other's accomplishments, fostering a supportive team environment. Public acknowledgment, such as shout-outs during company meetings or features in newsletters, also serves as a recognition incentive, providing employees with company-wide visibility and reinforcing their value to the organization.

To create a culture of recognition, recognition programs should be inclusive, consistent, and aligned with the company's values. Leadership buy-in is also crucial, as is the need for managers to lead by example. A mix of formal and informal recognition, as well as monetary and non-monetary rewards, can cater to diverse employee needs. Regularly reviewing and adapting recognition programs based on employee feedback can help maintain their effectiveness and relevance.

Team-Based Incentives 

Team-based incentives are rewards that are given to a group of employees for achieving specific collective goals or milestones. Safety incentive programs are a common example and offer a great way to get employees working together to ensure a safe and supportive work environment. 

Team bonuses are another example. This might take the form of financial rewards that are distributed equally among team members when they reach a milestone or target. Teams might also be recognized through team outings, like dinners, sporting events or other recreational activities, or retreats, which can also provide an opportunity for employees to bond and build rapport outside of the workplace.  

When designing team-based incentives, it’s important to ensure that the goals set are clear, achievable, and aligned with the organization's strategic vision and objectives. Incentives should also be meaningful and valued by the team members, and the criteria for earning them should be transparent. It's also important to ensure that team incentives encourage positive behavior rather than leading to unhealthy competition or conflict within the team.  

Innovation and Creativity Incentives

Profitability, productivity, and growth are at the top of the list of priorities for any organization. To achieve these outcomes they need to enlist the support, commitment, innovation, and creativity of their workforce. Innovation and creativity incentives can be a great way to do this. 

Examples of innovation and creativity incentives could include idea generation contests, where employees can submit their innovative concepts with the potential for implementation and rewards. Innovation labs—dedicated spaces within an organization where cross-functional teams can collaborate on developing new products, services, or processes—can also be a great way to spur creativity. Hackathons, typically associated with the tech industry, are events where employees come together to engage in collaborative computer programming; but they’re also an idea that can be broadened to include any intensive workshop where collective problem-solving is the focus. 

Maximize Engagement with Incentives 

As you can see there are a wide variety of ways that companies can leverage the engagement and productivity power of motivational incentives. Whether financial, recognition-based, focused on career growth, or designed to help employees address financial needs and concerns, these incentives can give a big boost to engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

The role of motivational incentives in shaping a positive and productive work environment can’t be overstated. When employees feel valued and recognized for their contributions, it not only enhances their individual performance but also cultivates a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization. This positive work environment, in turn, drives organizational growth, innovation, and competitiveness. Investing in a well-designed incentive program simply makes good business sense; it’s a strategic move for the long-term success of the organization. 

Interested in learning more? We can help. 

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