11 creative incentives for employees

Samantha Mikos

Whether training a dog to sit or encouraging a child to finish their homework, incentives work. The same applies to your organization. Team incentives are huge drivers for success, productivity, and growth. The Cristaux team is an expert in recognition – incentives and motivation being a big part of that. We’d like to share our knowledge with you. We’ll cover the basics of employee incentives, ideas, and how to create your own program. Now is the time to take your team to the next level.

What are incentives for employees?

Incentives for employees are tools and tactics used to motivate individuals or teams to achieve certain goals or change behavior at work. An example includes giving additional paid time off or other sales incentives if employees exceed quarterly sales goals.

What does incentive mean?

An incentive is anything used to motivate someone to change their behavior or do something new. For example, you could award employees with a vacation if they enter the company’s President’s Club.

Why are incentives important?

Incentives are important because they help you and your team achieve your goals. Effective motivation is essential to your business success. Whether using incentives for employee attendance or participation, this motivation encourages your team to go above and beyond. Additionally, incentives have many different purposes – from employee retention to engagement to incentives for training.

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11 employee incentives ideas

There are countless incentives out there, and it may be trial and error to find out what best works for your team. Consider starting with the following ideas.

Employee rewarding

Employee reward systems award individuals or teams for positive performance. This kind of program is typically separate from salary. Different prizes include small gifts like company branded swag, custom awards, and special services like financial consulting.

Wellness programs

Corporate wellness programs are designed to maintain and improve the health of your employees. Healthier workers create better results. For example, you can encourage healthy eating habits by catering for a fresh and hearty lunch. You can also provide health screenings, stress reduction classes, gym memberships, or even fitness reimbursements.

Incentive gifts

Incentive gifts include many creative ways to recognize employees. To honor them for their hard work, you can give them gift cards, discounts, event tickets, stock options, and more. For a truly one-of-a-kind creation, you can design custom award statues for your employees.


Referrals are used to encourage employees to reference people they know to work for your company. Typically, employers reward employees who make a successfully hired reference. The common reward is a cash prize. The amount you allocate depends on your budget and could range from $250 to $25,000, depending on the position’s seniority.

Contests and Competitions

If you’d like to build a more positive work environment, then consider starting friendly workplace contests. These competitions allow your employees to take a break from their daily tasks, engage in something new, and work together. Examples include BINGO and pumpkin carving during Halloween. At Cristaux, we have our own office competition complete with company branded awards, the Stormy Awards.

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Flexible Work Program

Each of your employees has a special lifestyle. Also, remote teams are growing and working in different places and times. To decrease stress and turnover rates, allow employees flexibility in deciding where and when they work. From choosing to work remotely or creating a special schedule, your employees will feel empowered and proud to work for you.

Public Recognition

By honoring special achievements and milestones in a public way, you achieve two things: (1) you recognize and better your relationship with honorees, and (2) you inspire others to achieve the same. To elevate your recognition program, create awards. Examples include milestone awards, corporate awards, sales trophies, and leadership awards.

Company Events

To build team camaraderie and foster connection, you may host team events. Give your team the opportunity to unwind together and enjoy each other’s company. Example events include picnics and holiday parties.

Professional Development

By providing your team with the chance to continue their education, you are making your organization more competitive by staying up to date with industry trends. Example opportunities include online classes or conferences. Once your employees have completed their courses, you may honor their dedication with a custom plaque.

Volunteer Time Off

By sponsoring volunteer hours for your employees, you help boost company morale. The typical volunteer time off ranges from 8 to 40 hours per year. Also, community service events for your whole team are a great opportunity to elevate your company brand.

Office Equipment

To encourage your employees to improve their performance, you can upgrade their office. From desk chairs to laptops, you want the best for your team so they can create the best results. Additionally, if you have remote team members, you can make sure they are comfortable and included despite the distance.

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How to create an incentive program for employees

Follow the proceeding steps to help develop your employee incentive program.

  1. Identify the purpose of your program: Focus on what you want to recognize with these incentives. What goal do you what to achieve? What behavior do you want to celebrate?
  2. Organize the program’s logistics: Here, you need to decide the who, what, when, where, and how of your plan. From choosing what awards you will present to figuring out how to provide incentives to employees. We recommend collaborating with a recognition vendor if you need additional help.
  3. Execute the plan: Follow through on your program from beginning to finish. Keep your promise to your employees and follow through to build trust.
  4. Evaluate the program: Reflect on how well the program performed compared to your original vision. Then, brainstorm any possible adjustments.

Grow with incentives for employees

Creating a recognition program is a big undertaking. However, by using effective incentives for employees, you and your team will see great success.  Now that you have 11 ideas for incentives, you’re ready to put together something personal and meaningful for your organization.

Contact the Cristaux team to start creating awards and gifts for your employee incentive program.