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11 employee incentive ideas to keep your team engaged

By Brett Farmiloe from Terkel · November 28, 2022
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Employee perks can help you attract and retain the best talent. But developing an employee incentive plan isn't one-size-fits-all. You'll need to consider the needs of your team and what will be the most attractive to potential candidates. To help you choose enticing incentives, ‌we asked C-suite executives, founders, and other hiring professionals for their best ideas for employee incentives.

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11 examples of employee incentives to inspire your own employee incentive program

  1. Personalized healthcare options

  2. Freedom of choice

  3. Professional growth opportunities

  4. Extra time off

  5. Childcare

  6. Monthly budget for activities

  7. Discounts

  8. Company getaway

  9. Home office budget

  10. Personalized employee perks program

  11. Sabbaticals

1. Personalized healthcare options

"Employees are asking for employers to support them in new ways, and benefits are one of the most tangible opportunities for employers to demonstrate that they are listening. 

Personalized healthcare options that supplement a health plan empower employees and their families to create their own custom health and wellness strategies that meet their current health needs and future health goals.

HSAs, HRAs, and Lifestyle Accounts all offer flexibility while offsetting the expense of evidence-based therapies such as acupuncture, massage, health coaching, mental and behavioral health counseling, nutrition services, and many more. 

Paired with a high-quality, vetted network of providers, your employees will sing the praises of your progressive approach to supporting their whole-person health."

Colleen Kavanagh, CEO, SoulBeing

2. Freedom of choice 

"Employees want flexibility with how, when, and where they work, so this freedom should be extended to rewards and recognition, too. 

No one wants a single-size solution pushed at them (and organizations are often so dispersed and varied that a single incentive couldn't suit everyone), so it's better to allow individuals to choose perks that benefit them. Why not create an employee recognition program where colleagues and managers can award digital points to people within the company who have demonstrated exceptional values-led behavior? 

Once they have enough points, employees should then be able to redeem them against a catalog of goods or experiences. Going even further, they should be able to request new things to be added to the list."

Scott Hitchins, CMO, Interact Software

3. Professional growth opportunities

"There are so many options for giving out incentives or perks to your employees: monetary incentives, fringe benefits, dearness allowance, recognition awards, and so forth.

If I have to mention one of the best incentives for employees, then it would be, without a doubt, offering them professional development opportunities so they can get better at what they're doing now. It will benefit them and your business as they hone their skills to the next level. Investing in your employees' careers matters a lot to them, and they're likely to stick with your company for a longer period of time.

Your company also benefits from professional development programs from new skills, knowledge, and experiences that your employees learn. It further paves the way for more in-house promotion opportunities.

Vartika Kashyap, CMO, ProofHub

4. Extra time off

"One of the best incentives or perks for employees is time off. Time is the most valuable resource. Giving employees time away from work allows them to recharge and re-energize, which can help improve their productivity and motivation when they return. 

Additionally, time off allows workers more freedom and flexibility in their schedules, allowing them to balance their work and personal lives better. Whether it's time spent with family, traveling, or pursuing a hobby or other passion, time off is an important benefit that can help keep employees happy and engaged in their work.

Offering unlimited vacation time is ineffective unless there's a culture that fosters taking over 2-3 weeks off a year. Providing clear guidelines and establishing norms on time off is a better way. Ultimately, it is one of the best ways to show your employees that you value and appreciate their hard work and dedication."

Joe Kevens, Founder & Director of Demand Gen, B2B SaaS Reviews

5. Childcare

Denise Hemke pull quote

"One of the best incentives and perks employees can get is family support and extra funds going towards childcare. As inflation hits, making ends meet is becoming more and more difficult, especially for families as the expenses keep piling up. 

Having your company take care of child support or at least a chunk of it can be a tremendous burden off an employee's shoulders and a great way to keep employees."

Denise Hemke, CPO, Checkr

6. Monthly budget for activities

"A while ago, I used to work for a tech company that had an unusual or an uncommon perk for employees. Each month, every employee had a $400 monthly spending limit for various purchases. The terms were described in the company guideline and were comprehensive enough to appeal to everyone's needs.

The funds were divided into categories such as medical, sports/gym, cultural, technological, and charitable. Meaning that you could purchase, e.g., a fancy new display for WFH that would belong to you even after you left the company. Some notable purchases were expensive desk chairs, bicycles (they counted as sports equipment), video games, and more.

The key here was the fact that few companies have such a comprehensive incentive that includes an extensive list of perks. Unsurprisingly, the company was filled with driven, motivated, and productive workers who were happy to go above and beyond to ensure the business's success."

Derek Sall, Founder, Life and My Finances

7. Discounts

"According to a Perkbox Survey of 1,532 conducted in 2021, 50% of employees noted that employee discounts were a benefit they most sought after. With the cost-of-living crisis, this could very well be a growing trend, especially concerning discounts for everyday living essentials, such as groceries and healthcare. This could be implemented via an internal company discounts portal, or by partnering up with external employee benefits schemes."

Eleanor Holmes, Marketing Executive, myhrtoolkit

8. Company getaway

"Early during my career, I learned that a prominent national sales force was offered an opportunity to take part in an annual Mediterranean cruise. There were sales marks that individual salespeople had to exceed to become eligible to take part in the cruise, and not everyone (not even most) would hit those marks. 

Even still, everyone had that goal in mind. Everyone wanted to board that particular cruise (from what I gathered, it was party central on that boat). There is a correlation between working hard and playing hard. If you give employees an opportunity to play, they will reward you with great work ethic and performance. 

The company foots the bill in that situation, but if the team is performing at a high level, the money will start raking in, and you should be able to take a portion of that and lavish your top performers. They'll appreciate it."

John Sarson, CEO, American Crypto Academy

9. Home office budget

Maximillian Wuhr pull quote

"Home office budgets are a massive draw for employees as we permanently move to more remote and hybrid workspaces. Team members need comfortable chairs, desks, and advanced technology to create a space that doesn't just work for them but helps them thrive.

These costs add up, so employers with ample office budgets can help relieve the financial pressure while communicating that they care about team comfort. When employees aren't set up with ergonomic, easy-to-use equipment, their productivity and engagement can suffer.

Your home office perks can include digital support, too. Give your team a flexible monthly allowance they can spend on productivity apps, Uber Eats, or anything else that will make their workdays a little easier."

Maximilian Wühr, CGO & Co-Founder, FINN

10. Personalized employee perks program

"One of the powerful benefits that an employer can offer employees is personalized perks. As part of such a program, determine the budget each employee may spend on activities of their choice. 

As the initiator, create a base of opportunities and potential ideas ranging from training and courses, through massages or skydiving, to trips and excursions. But don't limit employees in their vision to take advantage of this benefit. Provide them with the freedom to develop unique ideas on how they want to use their budget.

Remember that employees are different and have different needs. With the help of the Personalized Employee Perks Program, you give them the experience they need. As a result, you gain a higher retention rate or employee commitment and support a thriving work culture."

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Live Career

11. Sabbaticals

"Some forward-thinking companies are taking incentives a step further to recruit (and retain) employees by offering sabbaticals. 

Typically they'll offer extended, paid leave when employees reach a certain milestone in the number of years they've worked for the company—often five years. 

Employees love this perk because they have something to look forward to long-term and can plan travel or time for rejuvenation. The best part is that while the team member is on their sabbatical, their paycheck continues to come through every two weeks. Sabbaticals are different for each business that offers them, but 6 weeks is a realistic time frame to expect."

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed

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