24 Fun Employee Incentive Ideas (Monetary and Non-monetary)

Home » Resources » Employee Incentive IdeasUpdated: September 27, 2022

You found our list of the best employee incentive ideas.

Employee incentive ideas are acts that you can use to reward, motivate, and nurture your team. Examples include office upgrades, profit-sharing schemes, and office parties. The purpose of incentives is to help boost workers’ morale and increase productivity. Employee incentive ideas also help retain top talent and improve the work culture.

These ideas are similar to employee perks and benefits and employee recognition programs, and are an employee engagement best practice. These incentives can be ways to motivate remote employees. An example of this concept is travel incentive programs.

This list also includes:

  • employee incentive program ideas
  • monetary employee incentives
  • non-monetary employee incentives
  • small business employee incentive ideas
  • inexpensive employee incentive ideas

Let’s get to it!

List of employee incentive ideas

Regardless of the pay, your team requires regular motivation in the form of incentives. While a simple ‘Thank you’ note may be enough to motivate some workers, you can get more engagement from your workforce through well-thought incentives. From free meals and time off to professional development, here is a list of monetary and non-monetary incentives your team will appreciate.

1. Wall of Fame

If you are looking for non-monetary employee incentives to motivate your team, then a wall of fame is a great bet. You can designate a space in your office and feature workers who stand out regularly. Rather than having a wall of fame that celebrates employees annually, have a mix of small and big wins. For instance, you could have monthly and annual wall of fame features for the best-performing workers. You can post workers’ pictures, names, positions, and remarkable achievements. Be sure to place the wall in a visible area and encourage team members to earn their place in the space.

For similar ideas, check out this guide to employee of the month.

2. Fun Team Outings

Fun team outings are a fantastic incentive that you can use to reward a large group of workers. For instance, you can plan team building events for one department and let workers enjoy fun activities during a work day. Fun out-of-office experiences will motivate other departments to achieve set targets and foster teamwork and communication skills among attendees. When it comes to fun outings, many free, budget-friendly, and extravagant options exist. If working with a tight budget, then you can opt for department-wide picnics, hikes, or beach activities. You can also check out inexpensive options within your area, such as amusement parks, wine tasting, and painting lessons. Or, you can splurge on an indulgent experience such as a spa day or race car driving lessons to motivate your team to strive for the prize.

Check out this list of company offsite ideas.

3. Gifts

As some of the most popular employee incentive program ideas, gifts go a long way in motivating workers. However, gifts can be a hit-and-miss when companies do not offer practical items.

Here are some good gift ideas:

  • Sports gear such as exercise balls, yoga mats, and quality running shoes
  • Home updates such as coffee makers
  • Tech supplies such as tablets, headphones, and portable chargers
  • Delectable treats like chocolate and cakes
  • Winter essentials such as heated blankets

Rather than standard stationery items, strive towards offering gifts that workers can use outside the office.

Here are the best corporate employee gift ideas.

4. Out-of-Work Interests

Fostering your worker’s interests outside work is a fantastic way to show appreciation. You can let your workers list their favorite pastime activities. Once team players achieve a set goal at work, surprise them with paid classes.

Examples:

  • Drumming classes
  • DJ classes
  • Singing classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Language lessons
  • Basketball classes

Offering avenues for team players to improve their out-of-work interests is a valuable experience that motivates other workers.

5. Free Meals

Free meal plans top the list of small business employee incentive ideas. You can start by researching your workers’ favorite restaurants and surprise teams with free meals. Another fantastic idea is giving team members vouchers to their restaurant of choice that workers can share with loved ones. You can also surprise your team with home meal deliveries during off-work days. Rather than offering one free meal, let deserving workers enjoy free food and drinks from the company for one week. Then, to help motivate other workers, employees can snap pictures of the free meals and share them with the entire team.

Check out this list of employee breakfast ideas.

6. Subsidized Commute

If you have a team of workers who struggle with the commute to work, then a subsidy will go a long way in appreciating your team’s efforts. You can offer workers free bus or train passes for a month. Another fantastic idea is offering free drop-and-pick commute services to deserving workers. A subsidized commute plan is a financial relief and will also eliminate the stress of getting to and from work.

Subsidizing the commute is an example of a return to office perk for employees.

7. Time Off

If you notice that your team is struggling with a work-life balance, then time off is a great incentive you can implement. Time off will allow your team to relax, bond with family, and recharge for the next work day. Instead of offering workers a day off to achieve set goals, you can implement three to five off days depending on performance metrics. Another fantastic idea is offering your team holidays for a job well done. Workers will not take on any duties during this time until they resume work. However, ensure that you are fully staffed to not overburden other team members with work duties when one employee takes time off.

8. Professional Development

Professional development options are mutually beneficial employee incentives you can offer deserving workers. This motivational method is especially a fantastic idea for companies that have workers with limited professional development opportunities. You can also invest in your team’s professional development if you want to leverage in-house promotions instead of hiring new talent.

Examples of professional development incentive ideas:

  • Offer team players scholarships to further their studies
  • Offer workers paid study time
  • Provide deserving team players access to online paid platforms. For example, you can purchase annual subscriptions to learning platforms such as MasterClass, Skillshare, and Udemy.
  • Tuition loan payments or reimbursements

Investing in your team’s professional development will benefit your company immensely as workers gain skills they can apply at work. However, professional development incentives can be expensive in terms of time and money. Hence, ensure you have workers who can cover for team players during study times and finances to complete the chosen opportunities.

Here is a guide to giving professional development opportunities.

9. Project Takeover

Allowing performing team players to delegate tasks that they may not prefer to work on is a fantastic incentive. Another excellent idea for project takeovers is allowing top performers to have the first pick when it comes to projects. You will motivate other workers to achieve set goals and not to deal with complex projects all the time. While project takeover incentives seem easy to implement, you need to lay out strict guidelines that promote healthy workplace competition.

10. Profit Sharing Schemes

Profit-sharing is one of the best employee incentive program ideas that your company can emulate. For instance, some companies may offer workers stock or direct profit-sharing plans when employees achieve a $10,000 sales target. Giving company stock to workers is one of the most effective monetary incentives since employees view themselves as owners. Through profit sharing, you will foster company loyalty among your team.

11. Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits are fantastic incentives your team will appreciate even in old age. One of the best ways a company can appreciate workers is through contributions to workers’ financial retirement plans. Once a team player achieves a set target, contribute directly to the retirement account. To motivate other team members, ensure that you recognize the benefits and let workers congratulate each other.

12. Health and Wellness Perks

Employee performance is greatly affected by the team’s health and wellness. Giving incentives related to a worker’s health needs will improve a worker’s motivation for work and enrich wellness. One of the best strategies for health and wellness incentives is offering memberships to a worker’s choice of wellness activities. For instance, one employee may want a gym membership while another wants to join a paid hiking club. You can also factor in an employee’s mental health and offer direct access to services such as therapists. You can also reward workers who hit wellness milestones such as quitting smoking or completing walking challenges. Other health and wellness perks that you can offer your team include free on-site health screenings, access to free healthy food, and reimbursements for workers who bike to work.

Here is a list of employee wellness program ideas.

13. Bonuses and Raises

While bonuses and raises are some of the most common monetary employee incentives, these ideas can be compelling in motivating employees. However, rather than offering a small percentage of bonuses or raises when employees achieve a target, set up significant and realistic bonuses. To avoid workplace politics surrounding bonuses and raises, ensure clear objectives and metrics that all team players know. Also, encourage healthy competition so as not to pit workers against each other more so when it comes to raises.

14. Office Upgrade

An office upgrade for top-performing workers is a fantastic incentive to motivate other team players. If the worker already has an office, then you can revamp the space per the employee’s preference. For instance, you can let workers choose the wall paint or the carpet color. You can also upgrade the employee’s work furniture and stationery. If a worker has a smaller working area, you can move them to a larger office or a space in a better location. If you do not have the budget for a full-blown office upgrade, then consider upgrading the employee’s work equipment. You can purchase workers’ new tablets, computers, or phones.

If you have a large team, then you may not be able to offer every worker a new office or upgrade every so often. Instead, you can let workers use the best office, such as the senior’s workspace or any room of choice for a day. To avoid regular confusion in the use of office spaces, we recommend that you create an unassigned office for recognition purposes. Get a space with the best views, modern furniture, and top essential facilities. Your team will get the experience of the senior company team and get the motivation to work harder.

15. Naming Honors

Naming honors is an employee incentive program where companies name a space in the office after a deserving worker. For instance, you can temporarily name the conference room after an employee for achieving a goal. You can even go a notch higher and hold a small naming ceremony where all workers attend. Your team will work harder to retain the honors as other team players strive to have their names in the office space.

16. Social Media Posts

If you are looking for simple yet effective non-monetary employee incentives, then you may want to try social recognition. You can have a recognition strategy where workers appear on social media posts praising their achievements. For instance, if your company has a strong following on Instagram or Facebook, let the social media manager surprise the worker with praises from the entire team. You can also post the team player’s picture, their work role, and achievements details. Be sure to mention the impact of the worker’s accomplishments on the company’s growth, the customers, and the community.

17. Office Parties

An office celebration is one of the best ideas that you can use to incentivize a large group. For instance, if one department reaches its target, you can throw an intra-departmental party in the office space. Be sure to get food, drinks, and even a cake to celebrate your team’s hard work. An intra-departmental party will motivate other departments to work towards the achievement of set goals. You can even surprise the entire department with an afternoon party during working hours. Another idea is celebrating with a group of workers after completing a challenging project.

Check out this list of office party ideas.

18. Double Break

If you are running a small business, incentives can be tricky to plan, especially if you are operating on a tight budget. As one of the best small business employee incentive ideas, a double break is a fantastic idea that will work in favor of your entity and workers. For instance, if you offer workers a one-hour lunch break, then you can let a deserving employee double the lunch break and leisurely use that time. Employees can opt to catch up with an old friend, rest, or run errands during the double break.

19. Work Flexibility

Work flexibility is a fantastic incentive for companies with a rigid work schedule. For instance, you can offer your workforce the flexibility of working from home on some days. Another great idea is offering deserving workers coffee or lunch coupons to a choice of restaurants or lounge areas where workers can be productive. Other team players may also appreciate the flexibility of work hours. Be sure to set guidelines to help teams maintain their productivity regardless of their working spaces or time.

20. Gift Cards

Personal incentives can be a hard nut to crack for companies with a large team. Rather than offering an employee a gift they may not love, you can consider giving deserving team players gift cards. You can offer gift cards that workers can only redeem on specific products or cards that workers can redeem on different items.

Examples:

  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Movie theatre entry cards
  • Car wash coupons
  • Fuel refilling cards
  • In-house cleaning vouchers
  • Zoo entry vouchers
  • Grocery gift cards

Rather than going with guesswork, you could ask each worker their preference. Gift cards are a fantastic incentive for companies that have a diverse group of workers.

21. Casual Dress Day

A casual dress day is one of the best inexpensive employee incentive ideas that team players will appreciate. This idea is perfect for companies with a rigid dressing code, such as cases where workers dress in official wear or uniform. You could let workers wear fashionable or casual outfits for one week. Be sure to alert workers to stay respectful of your brand image during the casual dress period.

22. Awards

Awards are some of the best employee incentives that businesses can implement. For this idea, start by creating a title workers will want to hold. For instance, if you want the sales team to stay competitive and reach targets, you can create a ‘best salesperson of the month’ title. You can even make a trophy that the best salesperson will get each month. Consider humorous and creative titles that will get workers to stay motivated and work harder.

Here is a list of years of service award ideas.

23. VIP Parking Spots

VIP parking spots tops the list of inexpensive employee incentive ideas your team may love. You can implement this idea on a monthly or annual basis and let team players who achieve set goals park in highly coveted spaces. The VIP parking spots will especially thrill workers in companies with few parking spots. You can even decorate the parking space and offer your employees worthwhile recognition.

24. Dinners with the CEO

A personal or team dinner with the CEO or top management personnel is one of the simplest yet effective employee incentive ideas. Besides motivating team players to work harder, the dinner provides an avenue for mentorship and networking. Depending on the number of employees, you can rent out a top restaurant and offer participants a memorable dining experience. If you are working with a limited budget, then ou can organize an interactive breakfast session between the CEO and deserving team players. Be sure to snap pictures that attendees can share with other employees for motivation.

Conclusion

If your team lacks motivation, you may experience high employee turnover, especially among your top talent. Worker disengagement can arise from ineffective management, overexpansion, and organizational misalignment. With the cost of employee disengagement being high in companies, you can improve your team’s morale through simple incentives. Incentives motivate staff to work towards a given goal to get a reward. However, for incentives to be effective, focus on regular ideas as opposed to activities that you only practice once every year.

Next, check out these lists of employee milestones to celebrate at work and employee referral program ideas.

We also have a list of the best tips for motivating employees at work.

FAQ: Employee incentive ideas

Here are answers to common questions about employee incentive ideas.

What are employee incentives?

Employee incentives are activities you can undertake to engage, attract, and retain top talent. Employee incentives are vital in building a company culture and growing employee benefits. While companies may lean towards monetary incentives, well-thought-out non-monetary ideas will also motivate positive behaviors among your workforce.

What are examples of common employee incentives?

Businesses that have a desire for optimal performance from workers understand the importance of incentives perfectly. Examples of common employee incentives include holidays, gifts, and bonuses.

What are some creative employee incentive ideas?

You do not have to spend tons of money to incentivize your team. Rather, small and creative ideas are enough to motivate and excite your workforce. Some creative employee incentive ideas include dinners with the CEO, award titles, and a wall of fame.

What are the best employee incentives to motivate teams?

When planning ways to motivate your team, you must consider your company culture and employee preferences. The best incentives will provide an avenue for the management team and other workers to acknowledge each other’s efforts toward the success of an enterprise. The best employee incentives to motivate teams include work flexibility, holidays, and office upgrades.

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Author: Grace He

Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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