Employee Incentives – How to Use Them

By Amanda Beattie
21 Dec 2021
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Offering incentives for employees shows that you appreciate their contribution to your business growth. Whether a Christmas hamper or tickets to a popular theatre show, many companies use them to reward the hard work of their staff. However, you can make a real difference to employee engagement through a strategic employee management incentive scheme.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of incentives for employees and how to utilise them.

Call us so our pay & reward experts can help you incentivise your workforce, on 01455 858 132.

Do incentives work for employees?

One of the biggest business challenges to overcome relates to how the employment market is changing. Many factors contribute to high turnover, low staff morale and employee disengagement. And, together, they impact on productivity and business success.

If you are concerned about the possibility of losing valuable employees, start by thinking of what makes them work for you. It might be competitive salary or good wages, the fact they have worked for you for a long time, or simply inertia. No employer wants their staff to stay with them due to lacking options. Good business leaders understand what their employees get from their employment, besides the fundamental aspect of being paid for their work.

Employee Incentive Schemes

Using an incentive plan for employees can not only help you keep your current workforce. It can even contribute to attracting better candidates.

In a 2019 Speakap study, 42% of staff said they would rather do a 60-hour week than work for a company that doesn’t value its culture. And 58% of respondents conceded they would accept a job from a competitor with better workplace values.

Even later data, collected during the pandemic, highlighted the same trend.

Company incentives for employees should support the company culture that your staff appreciate.

When you put in place an incentive structure for employees, you not only show them that you care about their happiness and wellbeing. You also demonstrate that you understand why they work for you and what keeps them motivated.

That is why it is so important to choose the right type of employee incentive arrangements for your company.

Incentives for employees to increase productivity

The main goal of offering any reward schemes to employees is to keep them motivated. The more motivated they are, the better their performance.  

Let’s not forget the other side of the coin. Through times of intense challenges, your business and your employees share the strain. The likelihood of staff experiencing burnout increases. Their mental health might be on the edge. Including an extra day of paid holiday on top of their leave entitlement, across the company, could work wonders that particular year. Why not top it up with giving them a choice of three types of experience days on the company?

Ultimately, employee incentive schemes aim to increase productivity through improved performance. We know that the way workers perform depends on several factors, most importantly on their wellbeing.

Some benefits apply across different industries and types of business. Consider giving your employees a day off for their birthday. And remember that, if their birthday falls on a non-working day, you should still offer them a day off.

Other incentives will apply more specifically to your type of industry, and your staff’s preferences. Use a pulse survey to gather what they actually want before you put together your bonus incentives for employees.

What about motivating employees through performance?

If you decide to apply a performance-based reward plan, this could promote healthy competition within the workplace. You can offer monthly or quarterly rewards to employees with top results. However, avoid giving out benefits only to top performers, as this could lead to creating a toxic competitive environment. All your other workers risk feeling left out.

Communicating your incentive plan to employees

We have discussed different levels of rewards for different employs. While recognising performance is always recommended, your best performers should already earn more than their colleagues. So, remember that the way you communicate your incentive plan to staff matters.

Let’s think about this real-life scenario.

You decide to create two incentive schemes to motivate employees.

Firstly, you want to keep your top performers highly engaged. Secondly, you want to incentivise all your staff members to aim higher and engage more.

You might want to announce the business incentives for all employees first. Once this has had an impact on everybody’s job satisfaction, you can award and reward your best employees.

Employee incentives ideas to inspire you

Only you can decide what will benefit your employees, through understanding your workforce, as highlighted above. Each company can choose different incentive plans for employees based on their performance, needs and preferences.

We will share some of the best tried and tested ideas to inspire you next.

importance of incentives for employees

One category to consider is team building incentives. These could be as simple as Friday breakfast or brunch on the company, where teams sit and eat together. Or it could involve an activity day out, on an adventure trail or simply hiking in the countryside, with added lunch on the company. Decide on what regularity works best for your company and how much funding will be required.

Think of personal hobby incentives too. Offer employees that enjoy arts & crafts vouchers to a supply store. And why not invite them to exhibit their painting, knitting or pottery in a small workplace exhibition?

Who doesn’t appreciate a gift? Employee gift incentives ranging from sports gear to coffee, sweets, books, or tickets to the cinema or theatre tend to work a treat.

What about running an employee management incentive scheme?

Also known as an Enterprise Management Incentive scheme, it gives employees the right to acquire shares in a company. Businesses offer this opportunity to designated employees, as a reward for their efforts and results. By doing so, they further incentivise key staff to grow the business into which they now hold shares.

How to motivate employees without incentives

You can show your employees you appreciate them and their contribution without spending extra money on gifts and packages.

Start by creating a fun, engaging, and inspiring work environment. The better your employees feel about coming into work every day, the higher their morale and motivation. Demonstrate you care about their wellbeing by promoting healthy, fun living within the workplace. A one-off investment in table tennis, a separate yoga space with mats, or a quiet room can cost you less and benefit your staff. 

Professional development opportunities and the chance to advance and earn more within your company will also matter. Stagnation continues to play a role in increased turnover.

Flexible working hours and hybrid working will contribute towards your staff wellbeing. Anything that encourages a better work-life balance will help your workforce.

How can you measure the effect of incentives given to employees? Ask them. A survey will help you not only assess what benefits they prefer, but also what impact these benefits had.

Incentivise your staff – with our help

Whether you aim to increase staff retention, attract better candidates, or simply support your staff better, we are here to help. Croner Reward will give you clear, accurate, comprehensive pay & benefits services.

Call today to discuss how you can best look after your staff and build a stronger workforce through incentives for employees, on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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