Employee Incentive Strategy

28 Sep 2023

Thinking About Starting an Employee Incentive Program? Read This First

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Isabel Carter

Employee incentive programs are a valuable tool for motivating and retaining your workforce. Before diving into the world of rewards and recognition, it's essential to understand both the benefits of implementing such programs and what types of rewards are likely to be effective. In this article, we'll explore the advantages of starting an employee incentive program and provide insights into what types of rewards work and don't work.

Benefits of Starting an Employee Incentive Program

Improved Employee Morale

  • Benefit: An employee incentive program can boost morale by recognizing and rewarding hard work and achievements.
  • Outcome: Employees are more likely to feel appreciated and motivated, leading to increased job satisfaction.
  • A study conducted by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) found that 69% of employees stated that rewards and recognition positively impacted their morale.


Increased Productivity

  • Benefit: Incentives encourage employees to put forth their best effort.
  • Outcome: A more productive workforce can lead to higher profits and better business results.
  • According to a survey by McKinsey, motivated employees are 50% more productive than demotivated employees.



Enhanced Employee Retention

  • Benefit: Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions can increase loyalty to your organization.
  • Outcome: Lower turnover rates save your company money and maintain institutional knowledge.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 80% of employees say they would stay with their current employer if they felt appreciated and recognized, which is often achieved through incentives.


Fostering a Positive Company Culture

  • Benefit: An incentive program can help cultivate a positive workplace culture based on recognition and mutual respect.
  • Outcome: Employees are more likely to collaborate, share ideas, and contribute to a harmonious work environment.
  • A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that organizations with a strong culture of recognition are 2.5 times more likely to have lower turnover rates.


Improved Recruitment

  • Benefit: A strong incentive program can make your company more attractive to potential hires.
  • Outcome: You can attract top talent and gain a competitive advantage in the job market.
  • Globoforce reported that 78% of employees who are recognized at work are more likely to consider their employer an attractive place to work



Types of Rewards That Work

Monetary Rewards

  • Effective: Cash bonuses, gift cards, profit-sharing, or salary increases.
  • Why: Tangible rewards provide immediate financial benefits that employees can use as they see fit.

Recognition and Appreciation

  • Effective: Public recognition, personalized thank-you notes, or awards ceremonies.
  • Why: Acknowledging accomplishments fosters a sense of pride and belonging.

Professional Development Opportunities

  • Effective: Training programs, skill development courses, or career advancement opportunities.
  • Why: Investing in employees' growth can lead to long-term loyalty and improved skills.

Flexible Work Arrangements

  • Effective: Remote work options, flexible hours, or extended vacations.
  • Why: Offering work-life balance promotes employee well-being and productivity.

Team Building Activities

  • Effective: Team outings, retreats, or collaborative projects with a shared goal.
  • Why: Building strong interpersonal relationships can enhance teamwork and collaboration.


Types of Rewards That Don't Work

Generic Trophies or Plaques

  • Ineffective: Generic recognition items with no personal value.
  • Why: These often end up collecting dust and don't provide meaningful motivation.

One-Size-Fits-All Rewards

  • Ineffective: Rewards that don't consider individual preferences or needs.
  • Why: Employees have different motivations, so a uniform approach may not resonate with everyone.

Over Complicated Programs

  • Ineffective: Programs with complex rules and unclear criteria for earning rewards.
  • Why: Employees may become frustrated and disengaged if the process is too convoluted.

Non-Meaningful Praise

  • Ineffective: Empty praise without specific examples or sincere gratitude.
  • Why: Employees can recognize insincerity and may not feel truly appreciated.

Delayed Rewards

  • Ineffective: Rewards that are promised but take a long time to materialize.
  • Why: Delayed gratification may not provide the immediate motivation employees need.


Starting an employee incentive program can offer numerous benefits to your organization, from improved morale and productivity to enhanced retention and recruitment. However, the key lies in choosing the right types of rewards. Effective incentives align with individual preferences, offer tangible benefits, and promote a positive company culture. Conversely, rewards that are generic, insincere, or overly complicated may not yield the desired results. By carefully planning and implementing your incentive program, you can create a motivated and engaged workforce that drives your company's success.