The best employee incentive programs

Samantha Mikos
Rachel Harmon

How do you get your team members to go the extra mile? Incentives! Employee incentive programs are essential to inspiring and motivating your team. To achieve goals and continue growing, your team will be more productive and engaged with a reward in sight. The employees of Cristaux International use individual, team, and company incentives to maintain focus. We have lots of experience with creative design, so we’re ready to help you dream, create, and realize your employee incentive program.

What are employee incentive programs?

Employee incentive programs are plans implemented to regularly reward employees for accomplishing specific goals or displaying positive behavior. Programs are not one-time honors, but rather routine encouragement. For example, you may motivate employees to continue working for you by celebrating their work anniversaries with a yearly gift.

What are the benefits of employee incentive programs?

By enacting and maintaining successful employee incentive programs, you could receive the following benefits for your business:

  • Boosting company morale. Friendly competition is a great source for more positive interactions between staff.
  • Curating a team of top performers. By rewarding your goal exceeders, you retain your top talent and inspire others to work harder.
  • Supporting teamwork. Team-based incentives provide opportunities for teams to collaborate and grow together.
  • Inspiring individual goals and growth. Incentives for individuals excite and encourage each team member to grow into the career they imagine for themselves.
  • Driving productivity and sales numbers. By regularly rewarding the most excellent work, your business will reflect this growth quarter after quarter.
  • Strengthening employee retention. Recognition efforts – incentive programs included – create a happier and healthier environment for loyal employees.

Happy employees teamwork in office

12 great employee incentive program ideas

There are many kinds of incentive programs to grow your business. While reading through our list of ideas, consider which would best incorporate your team’s interests and goals.

1. Quarterly or Yearly Quota Incentives

Quota-based motivation is a great way to include your whole team. You can set the bar with one goal in mind, and whoever achieves or exceeds that goal is rewarded. You can focus on a specific number of items sold or produced. Or you can use a percentage to even the playing field and meet your employees at their different starting points. Also, consider non-monetary prizes like professional development opportunities and public praise.

2. Performance or Revenue Bonuses

When deciding how to issue bonuses to your employees, use individual goals to measure their progress. This way, you have a reference point to help you decide how much to distribute to each employee. You can also consider the company’s yearly success and how long each employee has been with your organization. Lastly, make sure you continue this program on a regular basis. Performance-based bonuses are typically distributed once a year.

3. Peer Recognition

Receiving admiration from colleagues is a great motivator because their praise is the most personal and meaningful. They work beside you every day. Seeing your colleagues take a short moment to recognize your hard work, you are touched and encouraged to keep it up. To make sure peer-to-peer recognition becomes routine for your team, include it in regular meetings and make it easy for everyone to contribute online or in person.

4. Sales Goals Incentives

Incentives for your sales team can range from encouraging individual progress to team-wide contests. Ensure that you reward your high achievers with something personal and unforgettable like customized sales awards. Also, when planning initiatives for the whole department, make sure that everyone – from your newcomers to your veterans – can win. For example, organize monthly trivia competitions about new product launches.

Internal Sales awards Peterbilt crystal and metal

5. Competitions and Contests

Have fun and boost team spirit with friendly competitions and contests. These team-based games can be implemented on a weekly or monthly basis. Each team that achieves the game’s goal is rewarded and perhaps celebrated with custom trophies. To drive departmental or organizational growth, up the stakes for each game. These small, incremental steps will show great gains over time. For example, hold a raffle. When employees achieve certain goals, they receive more tickets to better their chances of winning.

6. Leaderboards

Leaderboards are an effective tool for displaying team and individual progress. This tangible touchpoint reminds employees of the incentive at stake, every time they see it. It’s critical that the board is easily visible for all employees – those in the office and working at home. Display the board throughout your facility and through online communication. Once the contest has concluded and you’ve declared a winner, what better way to honor your champions than with leadership awards?

7. Birthday Prizes

By publicly celebrating your employees’ birthdays, you do two things: make them feel valued and inspire others to continue working with you until their birthday. How you party is up to you and the guest of honor’s interests. Birthday cake is a staple. However, a gift selected with their passions and hobbies in mind goes above and beyond. This personal touch shows your team members that you listen to them and care about them – not just as an employee, but as a whole person.

8. Monthly Recognition for Outstanding Employees

Starting an Employee of the Month program is a tried-and-true way to consistently celebrate your team members. However, if you’re looking to elevate your recognition efforts, then consider these other ideas for recognition awards. We recommend that you find the perfect balance of routine and new programs. This way, you create traditions for your team, while occasionally surprising them. For example, pair an Employee of the Month program with company branded awards inspired by your different company values.

wood block with metal bent around corner. Service award internal company recognition

9. Benefit Packages

A strong incentive is a new or additional employee benefit, and a great perk to this kind of incentive is its flexibility. You have countless options and can opt for something monetary or non-monetary. Regardless, your employees will be grateful for the chance to gain another benefit. To ensure this program works, choose the best company benefit relevant to your team. Nothing is less motivational than something you don’t want. Ask around the office for ideas and suggestions of what your team needs.

10. Milestone Awards

Milestone awards commemorate notable achievements, major work anniversaries, and more. To uphold these programs, issue awards every year and on a consistent basis. Also, present these honors at a public event with the rest of your team in attendance. This way, employees work harder, hoping to receive the awards they admire. This creates a positive work environment rooted in positive recognition and healthy motivation.

11. Paid Time Off Accrual

An always-popular employee benefit is paid time off (PTO). Your employees put in long hours and meet every goal that you set for them. Given how much time and effort they invest to exceed your expectations, additional PTO is rightfully deserved. It’s important to structure this program with specific benchmarks to evaluate performance. Also, make sure your business can still run smoothly by only offering the PTO you can afford. How can you do business if no one’s working?

12. Retention Programs

Maintaining a high employee retention is a common goal for many organizations. To keep your loyal and hard-working team, honor their dedication with a years of service award program. It is typical to celebrate one, three, five, seven, ten, fifteen, and more years of service. Additionally, awards and work anniversary gifts become more prestigious as you honor larger accomplishments. Lastly, it’s important to personalize the pieces for each recipient, to add that special touch.

Crystal years of service piece sand etched and painted

How do I create an employee incentive program? Best practices

You have an idea for an incentives program, but how do you make it come to life? Consider our tips on how to make your program successful:

  • Keep the employee in mind. Your employees are what drive your business. Never lose track of what’s important to them and build your program around them and their lifestyles.
  • Always evolve. Don’t have an end goal or stopping point. This way, your business continues to grow and change in unexpected yet wonderful ways.
  • Make it company branded. You can use your brand as the connecting theme for all your awards and plans. Also, try tying in your business values.
  • Refresh the design. Change things up by exploring different ways to recognize your team. Don’t let your program get boring and think of new things to highlight and celebrate.
  • Focus on achievable goals. How good are incentives if your team can never obtain them? Start with goals that are a bit of a stretch but still within reach.
  • Celebrate departments and individuals. Incentives work wonders for both camaraderie and personal growth. Utilize both to inspire growth for teams and every employee.

What is the difference between employee incentive programs and employee appreciation?

Employee appreciation consists of non-specific celebrations often shared by your whole organization. Appreciation is centered on general gratitude. An example is Teacher Appreciation Week. School faculty and staff enjoy catered lunches and personalized gifts.

On the other hand, employee incentive programs celebrate your team for specific reasons. They are structured around identified goals and encourage competition in the workplace. Typically, incentive programs focus on departments, smaller groups, and individuals. Also, employee appreciation can be a part of an incentive program, but the program is the bigger picture.

brushed Gold figures. Corporate gifts

Create your own employee incentive program

Employee incentive programs are critical to growth on all levels. From the individual to teams to your whole organization, incentives will drive success and progress. There are many ideas and tips for you to follow, but it’s most important to create something special with your team in mind. Reflect on your company culture and innovate ways to mix in personal interests and goals. Then, the top-to-bottom growth is yours for the taking.

Contact the Cristaux team to discuss how custom creations could support your program.

FAQs: Employee Incentive Programs

You may have some questions that need answers, so we’ve provided information on frequent questions from people like you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for below, visit our FAQ page or contact our team.

What are some good incentives for employees?

Good incentive ideas for employees include referrals, incentive gifts, special services, bonuses, awards, additional paid time off, and more. The best incentives focus on your employees, their needs, and their wants. Find out ways to incorporate personal passions, interests, hobbies, and lifestyles into individualized incentives.

How do employee incentive programs work?

Employee incentive programs motivate team members to achieve specific goals by rewarding them with desired prizes, awards, and more. The most successful programs always keep their employees in mind and evolve. Focus on who makes up your team, how they want to grow, and what will encourage them.