Receive our blogs in your inbox

HR tips from industry experts.

5 Incentives to Keep Employees Motivated

June Sabo-Nelson, PHR, SHRM-CP
by June Sabo-Nelson, PHR, SHRM-CP on August 31, 2021

Happy employees create an enjoyable workplace, but the benefits go well beyond that. Another advantage of a content workforce is that they are 13% more productive than their unhappy colleagues. Beyond that, happy employees are more likely to stick around, meaning long-term cost savings for your organization.

Here's just how expensive high turnover can be: Disengaged employees cost companies billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. As an employer, it's in your business's best interest to ensure your employees enjoy what they do. Take a look at five employee incentive ideas aimed at keeping your workforce engaged and motivated.

1. Reward Attendance and Loyalty

smiling employees are recognized for their achievements

When a team is understaffed and work piles on your employees, expect stress to rise, morale to fall, and business to suffer. Consider creating a system that rewards employees for attendance, motivating workers to show up on time, and reduce absences.

Beyond attendance, consider rewarding loyal employees. What milestones are worthy of acknowledgment? Rewarding your workers for hitting these benchmarks can increase their overall happiness and motivate other employees to stay as well.

Rewards are not limited to monetary compensation either. Think about what your employees may consider high value, like paid days off or flexible schedules.  

2. Performance Incentives

Setting staff incentives can be done at both the individual and team levels, and depending on organizational goals, you may consider implementing both. Offering a reward for a team effort inspires camaraderie and motivates employees to work together toward a common goal.

Performance incentives for individuals promote competition and celebrate high-performing employees. Offering a reward for the best-performing individual can motivate departments like sales, where each individual must hit a goal on their own. Consider other ways to reward your employees, such as:

  • Shoutout your employee in an internal newsletter
  • Take them out to lunch
  • Write them a thank you note

3. Give Recognition

Don't underestimate the power of praise. It's important to understand that each worker has different motivators. Some value monetary rewards, while others find fulfillment in being acknowledged for their efforts.

Positive feedback can be so powerful in boosting motivation, morale, and purpose, yet it is one of the greatest lost opportunities for businesses today. The best part? It costs you nothing.

4. Set Short-Term Goals

Motivation and achievement are intertwined. Setting short-term goals is a motivational tool to tackle an objective. In turn, feelings of accomplishment can act as an impetus to continue setting and achieving goals.

Long-term targets are important for big-picture change, but setting short-term attainable goals creates clear direction and can help employees stay focused. Checking off small tasks is a great way to quickly and continuously increase feelings of achievement and purpose.

5. Show Them They're Valuedmanager and team give a shoutout to their coworker.

Research has shown that today's workers are searching for more than just a paycheck. Employees want to feel valued, and one way to do this is by investing in human capital. Companies that invest in employees' intangible qualities and economic value like knowledge and skills have higher employee satisfaction and retention rates.

If you want your employees to feel valued, show that they are worth the investment. Consider offering opportunities for training, continued education, or access to benefits that promote well-being, like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

There are various incentives you can offer your employees, many of which are inexpensive, to show that they are valued and increase their overall satisfaction.

It's important not to rely on one incentive alone to keep your employee satisfied, though. Achieving a happy workforce takes a thoughtful and holistic approach.


June Sabo-Nelson, PHR, SHRM-CP
June Sabo-Nelson, PHR, SHRM-CP

June Sabo-Nelson, PHR, SHRM-CP is a FrankAdvice Human Resources Consultant. In this role, she provides guidance to client owners and managers on a full range of HR topics and helps with best practices for the employment life cycle.

Related Blog Posts