20 Employee Incentives Program Ideas to Motivate Your Staff

If you want to convince people to join your company, offer them a good paycheck and benefits pack. If you're going to convince them to stay with your company, offer them incentives.

Employee incentives represent anything that can motivate, inspire, and engage your workforce. They may represent a small attention given at the right time, a word of appreciation or support when needed, recognition across the company, extra time off, and anything in between. Employee incentives programs should be as customizable as possible without being expensive. At the same time, they have to be inclusive and provide equal chances for everybody.

If you struggle to find the right employee incentives program for your company or organization, check out the following ideas and choose your favorites. That's right. You can implement more than one program because most of the time, you will have to because employees are different and resonate with other things.

1.    Reward Longevity with the Company

Providing bonuses for loyalty in the business is the most popular employee incentives program, and it is so for a reason. It's inclusive and encourages people to stay with the company for longer. Besides this, such a program will show them that you appreciate their work and instead prefer investing in their career development rather than hiring new people.

You can celebrate work anniversaries in many ways, from offering gifts and financial bonuses to granting a day off or extra leave days.

2.    Incentivize Punctuality

Punctuality is a quality you want in all employees, from managers to the cleaning personnel. Therefore, offering employee incentives for punctuality is an inclusive manner of showing your appreciation and motivating people to engage more with their job. And if you use an HR app for time tracking, you know exactly who's early at the office.

As a reward, you can provide support for commuting to work, flexible work schedules, extra paid time off, bonuses, or public recognition.

3.    Encourage Volunteering

Volunteering is inspiring and energizing. People who volunteer are also more empathic, better team players, and more social. Therefore, encouraging volunteering with incentives is an excellent way to show the company's values and motivate employees to be better people. You can even develop volunteering programs and allow employees to do something good for others.

You can encourage volunteering by giving employees extra paid time off for this activity, showing public support and recognition, giving thoughtful gifts, or getting something off their wish list.

4.    Celebrate Teamwork

You want (and need) good teamwork to create a solid company culture and a trustworthy work environment. Besides, teamwork improves productivity and problem-solving, encourages people to help each other, and creates friendships. So celebrate teamwork anyway you can and promote team spirit and collegiality.

You can reward the best teams by planning an office party, taking them to lunch, offering tickets to an event, or giving sports passes.

5.    Recognize Positivity

Nothing raises employees' morale more than a colleague with a positive attitude. And it's a known fact that people with high morale are more committed, productive, and creative. So include an employee incentives program that recognizes positivity and encourages people to see the full side of the glass.

Positive employees may receive bonuses, may have a wish granted, or may benefit from a half-day off. You can also recognize positivity by giving positive employees a voice and asking for feedback and solutions to improve their work environment.

6.    Appreciate Hard Work

Hard work also deserves appreciation and recognition. Also, it is something you can easily find at all levels in your organization chart. Reward and encourage hard work to motivate employees to do their best. It may be an annual reward or a spot award. Make sure everyone has equal chances and opportunities.

To show your appreciation for hard work, you can shake up the hierarchy and invite people to brainstorming sessions or company events. Of course, you may also offer a paid holiday, promotion, or bonus. To inspire others, a meet-and-greet day with the employee of the month may be a good idea too.

7.    Celebrate Personal Values

Each employee has a superpower that inspires others. Encourage them to show their family side, social skills, or creativity by rewarding and celebrating personal values. Value employees' patience, verticality, honesty, open mind, empathy, ability to help the ones in need, and other essential qualities for your company culture.

As you can easily find something worthy in each employee, offer incentives regularly. Each week or month, send an appreciation letter to one or more employees, recognize their personal values, and make them an example to others. 

8.    Encourage Education

An employee incentives program based on education is a good idea because it motivates people to learn and be updated with the latest news in your industry. The program may cover everything from finishing their studies to attending workshops, courses, and training programs.

You can encourage education by providing learning opportunities, granting paid time off for attending classes, or offering rewards.

And remember, there are excellent online courses that are not that expensive on websites like Skillshare or Domestika in case you're looking to boost the creativity of your workforce.

9.    Incentivize Candidate Referrals

Another popular idea for employee incentives is to reward candidate referrals. Most people know their peers well and can guarantee their expertise and character. Therefore, you benefit from valuable feedback and a fresh perspective of a candidate.

Candidate referrals are rewarded mostly with financial bonuses.

10.    Reward Goal Achievement

Each job has its challenges and, as a result, its goals. To motivate employees to work harder and better, you need to recognize their efforts and reward meeting goals. An employee incentives program oriented on goals is a good idea.

Celebrate achieving goals by throwing parties, encouraging employees to talk about their challenges and solutions, organizing games, giving gift cards, or treating employees to a spa day.

11.    Support Community Pillars

People actively involved in their communities are a good example of dedication and commitment. Therefore, they should be appreciated at work too. Reward employees engaged in charitable organizations or events and show your appreciation and respect.

You can invite them to mentor new employees, give feedback on improving the work environment, grant them more paid time off, or publicly recognize their value. 

12.    Incentivize Eco-Friendly Initiatives

Instead of imposing eco-friendly programs, reward sustainable initiatives through an employee incentives program. For example, you can reward employees who bike to the office, recycle the most, have a zero-waste office space, or participate in environmental events.

In this case, the reward should match the purpose of the program. Offer zero-waste products as gifts, invest in a more sustainable office, plant trees, or donate to environmental organizations. And if you want to go the extra mile with your efforts, allocate a percentage of your revenues to such causes yearly.

13.    Reward Inspirational Behaviors

Your employees have more good behaviors and habits than you imagine. Personalize the employee incentives program and reward your employees' inspirational behaviors. One may be punctual and serious. Another may be passionate and creative. Some may be good team players or hardworking. You will always have at least one employee who is the heart of the team and lifts everyone's spirits.

Award inspirational behaviors with certificates and gifts, promoting them to their colleagues and emphasizing the importance of a healthy and trusty work environment.

14.    Appreciate Mentoring

While continuous learning is worthy, the ability to mentor other people deserves appreciation too. Experienced employees who support and mentor new hires deserve recognition and incentives. Employees who train and teach others also deserve appreciation. Alongside other incentives, programs include one that rewards mentoring because these people's expertise and life experience are priceless.

Among the traditional incentives add providing help for less critical tasks, getting a bigger office space or access to a meeting room, reducing the number of tasks, offering flexible working hours, and other personalized benefits. 

15.    Celebrate Small Accomplishments

We are used to celebrating big accomplishments and teams and forgetting about small individual achievements. For a new employee, getting through the first month may be an achievement. For an old employee, finally organizing the office library may be a big day. Find those small accomplishments that make us proud and inspire others not to give up. They are motivational and encouraging and show people you take the time to get to know them.

Celebrate small accomplishments with a small gift, support for continuing the activity, public recognition and mention, team lunches, or a funny appreciation card.

16.    Award the "Best Colleague"

Every team has a person who does more for others than for themselves. It is the employee who always helps their colleagues, picks up remaining tasks, has a good word for everyone, or makes the entire office laugh with tears. It is the spirit that lifts others with their optimistic attitude. It is the one that has all the answers and, when doesn't still manage to find something inspiring to say.

Award the "Best Colleague" award regularly and celebrate it within the team with teambuilding, free time together, or a party. A certificate attesting the prize won't hurt either.

17.    Encourage Innovative Ideas

One of the reasons for implementing employee incentives programs is to encourage employees to be more responsible, committed, and creative. You want to boost employees' morale and help them be better people and workers. Therefore, innovative ideas should be popularized and rewarded. It gives a good example and motivates people to try harder and think outside the box.

You can reward innovative ideas with more opportunities for learning or teaching others, participation in industry-related events, promotions, or bigger office space.

18.    Offer Annual Health and Wellness Incentives

Invest in your staff and let them know you care for them by offering access to health and wellness programs regularly to all of them. Instead of the standard benefits pack, personalize the incentives and ask each employee what they need. Some may need healthcare for their families, de-stress procedures, fitness activities, or a pampering day just for themselves.

Such benefits don't represent a conditional reward. Include everyone in the program, regardless of their activity or performance. Make it an annual surprise reward people will look forward to.

19.    Create Point-based Rewards

If you struggle to find an employee incentives program that fits all employees, create a point-based program. Each employee may receive points for a different category, such as punctuality, positivity, teamwork, achieving goals, candidate referral, and so on. When your staff members reach a certain number of points, they receive a reward.

The reward may be a financial bonus, gift card, extra paid time off, access to health or sports facilities, lunch tickets, and others.

20.    Highlight Employee Interests Outside the Company

A good way to encourage employees to be better persons and highly motivated workers is to show interest in their achievements outside the company. Some employees may run marathons or have artistic talents. Others may be community pillars or take care of animals. By celebrating uniqueness and personality traits, you show your staff you take a genuine interest in them and treat them as individuals.

You can highlight employee interests in your intern newsletter by offering small personalized gifts or sending an appreciation card.


Employee incentives programs motivate people to do their job better and be more responsible. They also popularize good behaviors and attitudes and encourage employees to be better people and colleagues. As each company is different, take time to listen to your staff and find out what they value the most. Value their opinion and don't force anything on them, even if we're talking about incentives. A reward you don't need or like is not really a reward.

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