Perspectives, Trends & News

A guide to the best employee incentive programs

on Thu May 05 2022
  • Trends


Have you noticed low staff engagement? Is the office culture suffering from a lack of morale? Perhaps your workers are experiencing burnout and low productivity. Often stemming from exhaustion or ineffective management, disengagement is surprisingly common. 

To prevent high turnover and reduced productivity, employee engagement should be a key concern. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 20% of Australian employees feel actively engaged in their jobs. This blog outlines the most effective incentive programs to improve employee engagement. 

What are employee incentives?

Employee incentive programs achieve three key tasks: attracting, engaging and retaining staff. This reward and benefits system is designed to promote positive employee behaviour. Staff rewards can take many forms, from flexible work arrangements and training reimbursement to digital gift cards and more. Your incentive program should both meet your employees' desires and align with your company’s values. 

Importance of personalised incentive programs

Personalising your incentives program is absolutely essential. Your employees won’t feel motivated if they aren’t rewarded in a meaningful way. It’s important to interact with employees to determine which incentives matter to them. You can also leverage technology (i.e. artificial intelligence) to personalise your benefits program to each individual. 

Some other useful techniques to uncover employee needs include HR hackathons, employee journey mapping and design thinking techniques. However, the most reliable way to gauge personalised rewards programs is to seek employee feedback. 

Employee incentive programs

1. Recognition and rewards

In the post-COVID-19 environment, recognition is more important than ever. Organisations that recognise and reward workers are three times more likely to retain their current employees. Furthermore, they are twice as likely to see improved employee engagement. Despite this, many companies are just starting to realise the benefits of incentive programs. 

A recognition and rewards program is a fundamental aspect of employee engagement. When done properly, it integrates incentives into your employees’ daily life. To achieve this, rewards and recognition should be given frequently, in real-time. This can be anything from praise to monetary compensation, and anything in between. 

2. Professional development

Investing in your employees’ careers is a fantastic way to ensure employee retention and engagement. And, the benefits are mutual. Employees gain valuable on-the-job experience and knowledge, while companies benefit from the depth of knowledge and experience their employees' offer. Professional development also provides greater in-house promotion opportunities. 

There are several ways to engage employees using professional development. Your company could create a dedicated learning and development (L&D) program, for instance. However, L&D programs are often criticised for being too dry. To make your L&D program more interesting, try implementing some gaming elements. You may utilise a third-party management system. Alternatively, provide tailored coaching for new management staff. 

3. Health and wellness programs

Employees who aren’t healthy cannot perform at their peak. This is why many companies are instituting physical and mental wellness programs. It prevents burnout and improves overall health. With the added pressures posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs are vital. 

There are many simple wellness strategies to apply to your business. These include on-site health screening, free healthy lunches, reimbursements to cycle to work, wellness workshops and standing desks. Another incentive could be to reward employees for reaching health milestones, such as completing a step challenge or quitting smoking. An effective way to facilitate staff wellness is through a centralised rewards system. This encourages employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle. 

4. Ongoing training

According to a recent Gallup poll, 87% of millennials prioritise on-the-job training. They state that career growth and development opportunities are important aspects of choosing a job. This is no surprise, as continuous learning is integral to positive company culture. A great way to keep employees engaged is offering training reimbursement for company-approved studies. 

Your employees will feel valued and respected when given the opportunity to enhance their current skills or acquire new ones. Consequently, they will be more invested in their jobs and motivated to perform well.

5. Raises and bonuses

Periodically rewarding your employees with a raise or bonus is a powerful motivational tool. Bonuses that are based on performance show workers their contributions are valued. However, you must outline clear parameters as to how the raises and bonuses are attained. 

This is achieved by setting out concrete objectives and metrics employees must meet to obtain these rewards. It could be through meeting a monthly target, or signing up a certain number of new customers, for instance. It’s important to strike a balance with this policy, however. The targets you set should not be too easy or difficult to meet. Also, ensure employees don’t feel they need to compete with each other. This can create resentment and unnecessary friction in the workplace. 

6. Fun gifts

Giving your employees gifts reminds them that you care. It reminds them that hard work deserves to be rewarded. A gift is a fantastic way to commemorate employee achievements or work-specific holidays (i.e. work anniversaries). Some of the most common workplace gifts include catered lunches, an onsite massage or half a day off. However, Eftpos gift cards are also an excellent option. It’s a simple way to allow employees to choose their own gift. 

7. More time off

One of the key considerations when job hunting is seeking a work-life balance. Giving workers more time off enables them to achieve this. In addition, it increases their motivation when they return to the office. Beyond that, offering time off in exchange for meeting certain goals can benefit your company, too. Coming back refreshed can eliminate burnout and dissatisfaction. This will result in better performance. 

8. Project selection

It’s important to let high-achieving employees know they are valued. A great way to do so is by allowing them to choose projects. This incentive builds trust between workers and their managers. It fosters an atmosphere of trust and helps employees feel empowered. This will result in improved performance and truly exceptional results. 

Embed innovative solutions into your business strategy to motivate and empower your employees? Visit iGo today for more information or contact our team directly to develop an incentive program for your business.