10 Employee Incentive Programs That Will Massively Engage Your Team


Did you know that providing your employees a salary and benefits isn't enough to motivate them?

If you want to turn employees into harder-working people willing to engage in improving the company's success, you need to offer an employee incentive program.

Employee incentive programs will inspire your team, boost morale, and help most employees rise to the top. 

In this article, you'll learn about 10 ideas you can use for an employee incentive program to motivate, inspire, and improve how well your people engage with company performance prompts.

Table Of Contents

What is an Employee Incentive Program? 

An employee incentive program is a plan that rewards workers via workplace incentives for their hard work, improves company culture, or increases sales.

Whether employers are trying to improve teamwork, motivate employees, or increase employee retention, an employee incentive program can do all this. 

Employee incentive programs are essentially non-cash rewards and monetary incentives given by companies to encourage positive employee performance.

Most employee incentive programs are short-term rewards that give people goals to meet before receiving an award. The bonuses reward employees after they meet certain criteria over time or complete a project successfully.

using ipad

Also read: Promoting A Culture Of Accountability At Workplace - How Can Businesses Achieve It?

Why Your Company Should Use Employee Incentive Programs

People react well to incentives and that includes your workers. Employees who feel appreciated, confident about their place in the company, and see loyalty from the business owner will work harder than usual. 

There are many ways you can reward employees for their hard work. These include providing cash rewards or free gifts to employees who complete tasks.

Employee incentive programs are valuable because they help keep employees engaged in the performance of the company. 

When employees get motivated to improve their job skills and feel moved by incentives that grow their career paths, employee retention is likely to improve. 

We also talked about how you can go about increasing customer loyalty in pervious blog post.

people talking

Also read: Employee Motivation Strategies

10 Employee Incentive Programs to Engage Your Team

Use the following employee incentive programs to reward your employees and help them stay motivated to remain with your company. 

Professional Development

Offer your staff training courses as an employee incentive program. Encouraging continuing education shows your employees that you want them to succeed.

For example, if you manage a company that focuses on providing customers with the best service possible, consider offering an incentive for employees who complete courses related to customer service.

It's not always necessary to pay for third-party courses or seminars when providing professional development opportunities. You can also develop in-house training to further the skills of your people. Training courses and professional development are important for all employees and the more encouragement they receive, the better.

Finally, keep an eye out for employees who have a passion for a certain subject. 

For example, if you have a marketing team member working towards a degree and you see that they're passionate about the topic, consider hiring people with the same psychological profile. You can offer them similar training to build their skills as an incentive to join your team.

showing work

Create a Contest 

When employees get rewarded for participating in contests, it shows them that you value their time and interests. For example, if your company is launching a new product, you can host a contest. Ask all your employees for product ideas and the top three winners of the contest can receive an incentive.

Your workers will get involved and become more excited about your company's new product. Plus, they'll feel connected to their work and want to go after some public recognition.

Idea contests are beneficial because you get multiple ideas for what types of products or services your company should offer. They also shed light on how your company can improve its existing services.

Offer Work from Home Days 

If you work from a brick-and-mortar location, your employee incentive program might allow a work from home allowance. Set up goals that get all employees involved based on their department needs.

Anyone who meets their objectives can work from home on a day of their choice at some point in the future. Your employees will appreciate the flexibility of this incentive. They’ll likely work hard to earn that reward. 

Offering more flexible working hours also benefits people with disabilities or people who live far away from your business location. Work from home days represents a great example of an employee incentive program that will reduce turnover and increase productivity.

You could also host brainstorming sessions with a work from home day as the prize. People who want to work from home can attend the meeting and suggest ideas related to company goals. 

working at home

Incentives to Stay with the Company Long-Term 

Companies with a long-term plan tend to become more successful than those without one. Allowing short-term workers to extend their stay is another way to improve employee satisfaction.

For example, if you manage an entertainment company where people come and go frequently, consider financial incentives that will encourage team members to stay on board for at least one year. This employee incentive program could include a bonus or additional vacation days.

An incentive program like this will help team members feel appreciated for their work and benefit the business in the long term.

Other types of businesses that should consider this type of employee incentive program include retail outlets, restaurants, medical centres, and more.

Profit Sharing

Your company's profits are a reflection of the hard work your employees put into their roles. Establishing a profit sharing plan is an effective way to show your team how much you appreciate them. 

Offer quarterly or monthly profit sharing opportunities that allow all employees to participate in the process. Your team will feel a sense of pride because they'll see how their work directly benefits the company's financials. 

Essentially, this is one of those monetary incentives that will motivate people to work harder.

You could also reward the top three employees with additional profit sharing opportunities at the end of the year. Profit sharing helps attract high-level people into your hiring process. They'll recognize that your company rewards hard work and dedication.

One way to set the baseline is that everyone who works at least 35 hours per week is eligible for profit sharing. Split a percentage of company profits equally among each member of your company. For example, if one quarter generates $50,000 in profits, everyone would receive a certain amount as profit sharing benefits.

stocks on phone

Bonus to Employees Who Refer High-Performing Candidates

Use incentive plans to get workers to help the company grow. Instead of losing people to dissatisfaction, you can encourage them to stay with the company while also establishing an effective referral process.

Offering a bonus for employees who refer qualified candidates will encourage them to provide you with better team members. A bonus in the form of cash represents a great way to show your appreciation. When a team member refers a recruit and HR hires the referral, your worker should then receive the bonus. 

A cash bonus reflects how important it was for you to find a new employee. Depending on what the job pays, you could also offer extra vacation days as an incentive. For example, if you give employees two weeks of paid vacation each year, the bonus could result in one additional week of vacation.

people talking around table

Tuition Reimbursement

There is no better retention tool than offering tuition assistance to employees who want to continue their college education. Tuition reimbursement directly boosts employee morale because it shows they can develop themselves in addition to working toward professional development. 

Most colleges and universities have a list of the classes that qualify for reimbursement. Speak with a program coordinator to discuss the process involved with getting reimbursed for class expenses.

Consider this as another example of an employee incentive plan that helps build company culture. You want your employees to know you encourage continued growth and education beyond their work responsibilities.

Health and Wellness Plans

A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Offer your team the opportunity to maintain their health by offering them an incentive program that rewards them for engaging in healthy behaviours.

Some companies offer workers incentives for participating in physical activity and following a particular diet plan. You can also encourage healthier habits like quitting smoking or drinking less alcohol.

The key is to identify specific goals and associate them with wellness incentives. For example, employees may receive a certain number of wellness points every month for participating in physical activity or following a healthy diet. An accumulation of these wellness points would allow your employees to access discounts on health insurance. 

For instance, employees who stop smoking receive an additional wellness point per week toward their wellness point schedule.

healthy food

Offer Birthday Bonuses

Everyone loves receiving birthday gifts. Allow your team members to celebrate their day with a special bonus by giving them birthday bonuses.

Your employees will appreciate getting recognized on their special days. Birthday invitations may not seem like much on the surface. However, they show you care enough to take the time out of your day to make their day extra special.

You can also include other employees in your plans by getting the entire team to show appreciation. Have each person record a short 30-second video telling the birthday person why they love working with them. Shared experiences like this help to strengthen the team.

Offering birthday gifts in the form of free lunches or gift cards to their favourite restaurant is a nice alternative to sending flowers or candy. 


Unlimited Sick Days

Paid sick leave is a great way to offer benefits to your company, but unlimited sick days represent one of the most effective employee incentive programs.

Unlimited paid time-off shows you trust your employees by giving them the freedom to enjoy their lives without worrying about coming into work sick. Employees will love this plan because they can make decisions about how much time they need when an illness or injury occurs.

You can still maintain your company's best interests by imposing the same restrictions you would with traditional paid sick leave. For example, employees can take time off if they’re injured on the job or their child becomes ill. 

person sick

Best Practices When Implementing Employee Incentive Programs

A list of employee incentive programs is only as good as the action required to put them into place. Keep these best practices in mind as you implement the right employee incentive programs for your company.

Promote Your Employee Incentive Programs

The last thing you want is to create an employee incentive program that no one knows about. Make sure workers are aware of the programs you offer.

Get the HR department involved in spreading the word. You can also create a section in Basecamp or Slack that's dedicated to your company's employee benefit programs. Outline everything well with clear guidelines for how each program works. 

Your hiring process should highlight each employee incentive program. For example, if your employee incentive program includes a wellness point system, include that in your job description.

Measure Employee Engagement

To see results from your employee incentive program, you need to measure employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement is a way to determine how effective your plan is. If employees are getting involved in the programs you implement, you know you've hit on a few winners. 

Actively ask for employee feedback via surveys. You might get feedback that surprises you and leads you to make changes for the better. Here is a list of employee engagement strategies if you feel you're stuck for ideas.

working in office

Keep Incentive Programs Personalized

Asking for employee feedback offers a second advantage. It helps you keep a pulse on how to make sure you're offering incentives that match the needs and interests of your specific group of employees.

For instance, if you have a team of avid skiers, offer a free day off for employees so they can enjoy time on the slopes. 

Employees will become far more excited about participating when they understand how well you thought through their needs.

Offer Variety

A list of employee incentives is useless if it doesn't include a diverse set of options. Offer multiple rewards that appeal to different types of people with different interests.

When you give employees an option for redeeming rewards, it makes them feel like they have a stake in the game. That feeling of personal investment is half the battle when it comes to engaging your employees with incentive programs. 

You should also make sure each program you offer is relatively easy to qualify for. Otherwise, excitement could quickly turn into frustration and resentment because some employees have a much harder time achieving certain incentives. 

Stay Authentic

Don't simply pay lip service to your incentive programs. You need to follow through with budgetary commitments if you want workers to invest themselves in the program. 

Get Your Leaders Involved

Your employees need to see company leaders taking part in employee incentives or else they won't believe the programs remain legitimate. 

Start with the C-suite group. Workers look to management to see what's acceptable and what isn't. If you're leading by example, that sets the tone for how employees approach incentive programs. 

Take time out to train leaders on each employee incentive program so they understand the value involved. Don't assume that putting a notice out is good enough. Enlist the help of your HR team to put together incentive program materials and conduct training sessions.


Additional Employee Incentive Programs to Consider

Many other employee incentive programs exist in addition to our top 10 selections from above. Use the following ideas to select the ones you like best.

In-House Fitness Classes for Employees

Many companies pay for their team members' gym membership, but this isn't always the best way to encourage an active lifestyle. You can save money and offer more specialized fitness activities, like Zumba or yoga classes, by arranging for an in-house instructor.

Picnics to Build Relationships

Sometimes, the best way to understand your employees' needs is by hosting social events. A picnic is a great way to break down barriers between departments and simply get outside with your team. 

Offer Paid Maternity Leave for New Parents

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not require some type of paid maternity leave. For this reason, many companies are starting to offer paid leave for new parents.

baby with mother

Encourage Employees to Learn a New Language

Learning a new language is sometimes difficult. It also has its benefits. You could offer incentives for employees who improve their foreign language skills as a way to boost team unity. 

House Cleaning Services

Cleaning services rid employees of one more distraction in their lives. Getting someone else to clean the home allows workers to experience a healthier work/life balance.

Wearable Fitness Trackers

The Fitbit is an example of a popular wearable fitness tracker that helps many Americans reach new health goals. The app works by making healthy choices fun and easy. It's a great idea that you could offer as an incentive to boost engagement and encourage healthy lifestyles.

Send Your Team on Paid Trips to Positively Impact the Community

Offer paid trips for your team members to go somewhere like Mexico or Brazil and deliver food to vulnerable people. A program like this encourages team building, fosters gratitude for the things they have, and impacts communities in need all at the same time.

travel on plane

Offer a Pet Day-care Service

A lot of employees have pets. Why not offer a service that helps them care for their furry friends while they're at work? You can form an agreement with a local pet day-care and let employees know they can drop their pets off when necessary.

Provide Free Lunch on Fridays

A free lunch every once in a while is never a bad thing. It's an excellent way to show your team just how much you care about them. 

Home Cooking for Employees

If you want to set yourself apart from other companies in your industry, do something that makes working the job more bearable. That could mean providing an employee chef who can cook healthy meals throughout the week.


One-of-a-Kind Incentive Programs

If you want to show your employees that they're special, create a unique incentive program. You can do something as simple as surprising them on Pi Day with an apple pie party. Or, make arrangements for coffee and donuts on National Coffee Day. Whatever you do, make it personal and authentic. 

Work It Off

Offer overtime as an opportunity for employees who are willing (and able) to work over 40 hours per week. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Although we’ve covered many relevant details about using employee incentive programs, you might have additional questions. Let’s review commonly asked questions about implementing incentive programs in the workplace.

What Are the Main Benefits of Employee Incentive Programs?

Several advantages occur when implementing an employee incentive program. Standard benefits include:

  • Motivates hard work 
  • Inspires employees to improve their performance 
  • Trains employees on proper company procedures

Emotional benefits include:

  • Builds confidence in the company 
  • Makes employees feel valued and appreciated
  • Creates overall good feelings about company culture


How is it Possible to Ensure Incentive Program Success?

There are several ways you can get the most out of an employee incentive program. 

First, make sure you're rewarding your employees based on their performance rather than what they've done compared to other employees. Using peer comparisons might demotivate others and result in lower quality performance.

The second thing to remember is that employees are not motivated purely by money. They're most inspired when rewards relate to what they do at work. 

For example, you might reward an employee with extra vacation time for selling a certain number of cars each month. Or, you could offer a monthly drawing for an iPad to any employee who subscribes to the company newsletter (even if they don't sell anything).

The more you can motivate your employees with individual, rewarding incentive programs, the harder they'll work and the better they'll perform. 

What Incentives Do Employees Want the Most?

When it comes to employee incentives, everyone has different personal interests. Feel out what kind of reward your employees would find most exciting and appealing.

Some companies offer monetary rewards, but that's not always necessary or practical for small businesses. You can also increase engagement with workers through these incentives:

  • In-house fitness classes 
  • Social events 
  • Frequent work from home days
  • Contests for prizes 
  • Picnics bringing the whole company together in a relaxed, casual atmosphere

The key is to identify what your employees want and give it to them. There are plenty of ways you can do that without spending too much time or money. 

What's the Best Way to Write Out an Incentive Plan?

Writing a detailed employee incentive plan is straightforward. To make sure everyone understands, you can use an outline like this:

  • Summarize the purpose of the plan
  • State that it also serves as a source of company ethics 
  • Include a brief company history 
  • Explain why incentives are important to your business and what they do for workers
  • Outline the types of rewards you will offer 
  • Get specific about how you'll distribute the rewards 
  • Define a few of your company's core values that tie into you giving incentives to workers

Incentives are a vital part of keeping your business successful, so keep these tips in mind when implementing them. With a little bit of research and thought, you can create an incentive program that is sure to boost your employees' morale and enhance their productivity.



Incentives are a great way to show employees that you want to help them meet personal goals as well as professional KPIs. Employees who feel personally rewarded tend to remain the most satisfied with their job. Start using our top 10 employee incentive programs today.

And another note to take on board is that if you can just show your employees that you are thankful for them in some manner then this is also a great incentive for them,

Employees value incentive plans very highly, as they are receiving something in return for their loyalty and hard work. In line with incentive programs like the ones listed its also important you don't neglect the day-to-day operations of your business. Such as payroll for example.

Using our paystub generator software you are making sure that you are not neglecting such an important business process, while trying to improve other sides of the business.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, businesses of all sizes can benefit from implementing employee incentive programs. Tailor the programs to fit your company's size, budget, and objectives.

Yes, many incentive programs can be customized to meet the unique needs and preferences of individual employees, such as offering flexible work options or personalized professional development opportunities.

Yes, effective incentive programs can reduce employee turnover by creating a more positive work environment, increasing job satisfaction, and fostering loyalty among employees.

Some potential disadvantages include the costs associated with implementing and maintaining the program, the potential for inequitable distribution of rewards, and the possibility of fostering unhealthy competition among employees.

Consider factors such as your company's goals, budget, employee demographics, and company culture. It's also important to solicit feedback from employees to ensure the program meets their needs and preferences.

Success can be measured through metrics such as employee engagement levels, job satisfaction, employee retention rates, and overall company performance. Regularly gathering employee feedback can also provide valuable insights.

These programs engage teams by providing recognition, rewards, and opportunities for growth, which in turn lead to increased motivation and commitment to the company.

Regularly reevaluating and updating your program is essential to ensure it remains effective and relevant. Consider conducting annual or semi-annual reviews, as well as seeking employee feedback and monitoring key performance indicators.

Employee incentive programs are strategies, tools, and rewards that companies use to motivate, engage, and retain their employees, improving productivity and job satisfaction.

Examples include performance bonuses, profit sharing, employee stock options, flexible work schedules, professional development opportunities, and team-building events.
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10 Employee Incentive Programs That Will Massively Engage Your Team
Samantha Clark

A Warrington College of Business graduate, Samantha handles all client relations with our top-tier partners. Read More

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