Incentives For Employees: 15 Ideas to Motivate Your Team

Andre Riley
July 27, 2022

When employees are at their best, your company is at its best. Customers are happy, which consistently brings repeat and new business to your doorstep. The question is: How do you ensure team members stay motivated and productive? Incentives can do the trick. 

How important are incentives to motivate your team?

Payscale’s research revealed that 36% of employee turnover in 2021 was voluntary. Their reasons for leaving range from pay concerns to lack of recognition and lack of growth. But no matter the reasons, two things are true: 

  1. A high employee turnover rate—whether the turnovers are voluntary or not—costs money. Gartner estimated that each departing employee can cost as much as $19K
  2. Even if your turnover rate isn’t high, customer loyalty and acquisition can suffer if employees are disengaged. 

Bottom line: Keeping your team motivated is a must. Incentives are a great way to make it happen.

How important are incentives to motivate your sales team?

“If you think about it, a sales team without incentives is a sales team without commissions. Imagine that,” said David Cherrie, our CEO. “Truth is, every sales team is already powered by incentives. It's just a matter of constantly optimizing those incentives to draw the best out of your people.

Like David said, incentives—compensation, recognition, rewards, and appreciation—work for all sorts of teams. But they have direct, tangible business benefits for sales teams especially. A motivated sales team often means more sales, more upsells, and higher gross margins, among other perks. 

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6 best practices for employee incentive programs

Thinking of starting an employee rewards program to get your team fired up about their work? Here are six things to keep in mind. 

1. Set smart expectations 

It’ll be easier to get everyone on board with your new initiative if they understand: 

  1. What activities and behaviors you’re trying to encourage
  2. What they need to do to earn rewards

Make sure your launch announcement explains both. And periodically remind the team of the what and how of your program to keep them engaged.

Pro tip: It seems logical to reward outcomes like sales. But David recommends a different approach. “Instead of rewarding the outcome you want, look at what your reps can do to drive that outcome. Then, incentivize that. 

For example, you expect that one out of ten conversations will turn into a demo, and you want more demos. Don't incentivize setting the most demos; incentivize reps for driving the most conversations.”

2. Offer incentives to everyone

The whole point of creating an incentive program is to motivate employees. So restricting participation based on tenure or other conditions would defeat the purpose. Excluded employees could easily become demotivated. That would decrease their productivity and make teamwork difficult. 

Inclusive company culture is the best way. 

That said, you can use tactics like sales gamification with tiered rewards to create some friendly competition. It'll keep participation in your rewards program up. Check out some of the results companies have gotten from doing this with the help of Arcade.

Source

3. Involve leaders from the start

Everyone should be able to take part in the incentive program. But the participation of leaders is particularly important. This means more than just encouraging others to buy into the program. 

What happens when team members see higher-ups pushing themselves to be more productive and effective? It can inspire them to participate and do the same. 

4. Promote your program often

A once-and-done mention of your program—either for your existing team or for new hires—won’t do much good. Your team needs to stay engaged over the long term, so mention the program regularly. For example, managers and supervisors can shout out top performers every month on Slack.

5. Seek feedback every step of the way 

Engagement will likely be better if employees can contribute ideas to shape your program. So, before implementing it, ask your team what incentives would motivate them. After everyone has tested it, ask for their suggestions to improve it and make it more fun to be part of. Periodically ask what other types of rewards or incentives they’d like.  

6. Follow through on issuing rewards

What a letdown it’d be if your team worked hard for their reward but didn’t receive it! Follow through on rewarding every team member who participates in your program. Or, better yet, use an employee recognition platform like Arcade that allows employees to claim their own rewards. 

5 effective employee incentive program ideas to engage your team

Here are five employee recognition and rewards ideas worth considering to motivate your team.

1. Health and wellness initiatives

According to Statista, in 2021, 75% to 84% of US employees said wellbeing programs: 

  • Make a company more attractive to potential employees
  • Make them feel better about their employer
  • Improve their employment experience
  • Help maximize their productivity
  • Help them avoid getting sick

And the kicker is, 85% also said they had easy access to employee wellbeing programs when needed. So, if you don’t have a health and wellness initiative, you could lose team members to a company that does. 

Even if they choose to stick with you, you’ll be lucky to dodge the effects of impaired productivity and poor health—not to mention a dip in morale. Take an interest in the wellness of your team; if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you. 

2. Extra time off

Another great motivator is the prospect of extra time off. And not just time off—paid time off (PTO). Allowing your team to earn additional days to themselves is a surefire way to boost program participation.  

3. Tuition reimbursement

You could discourage continuing education, hoping to keep team members at your company. But the smarter option is to encourage and even reimburse it! This can boost employee morale, make them greater assets to the company now, and boost long-term loyalty.

4. Subscriptions

The cost of even small subscriptions can add up. So, give team members a way to earn the subscriptions they want without having to open their wallets. With Arcade, for example, employees can earn popular subs such as Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify.

5. Meals on the house

Who doesn’t love being treated to a meal every so often? Free meals are an effective way to show appreciation for your team's hard work and motivate them to keep it up.

5 effective employee recognition program ideas to engage your sales team

Looking for some ways to incentivize your sales team specifically? Here are five ideas. 

1. Profit-sharing

Profit-sharing plans are attractive for employees looking to beef up their retirement accounts. In 2020, 30% of employees said they’d be more productive and 53% said they’d be less stressed if their employers offered financial wellness benefits. So this type of incentive plan can motivate your sales team to work hard and stick with the company long-term. Especially if you also offer 401K plans. 

With profit-sharing, you can make direct, cash, or stock contributions. Figure out which one your team would prefer. Better yet, ask them!

2. Bonuses and raises

Especially with a recession looming, a bonus or raise is appealing for sales professionals. Financial incentives are a great way to reward employee performance.

3. Coupons and discounts 

The appeal of coupons and discounts is similar to the appeal of subscriptions. The more expensive an item or experience is, the more appealing it is. Through a performance engagement platform like Arcade, you can offer digital gift cards from hundreds of reward partners. These include Apple, Airbnb, Marriott, Best Buy, and Nike. 

4. Professional development opportunities

Offer access to courses or give tickets to conferences. In any case, your sales team will appreciate opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. After all, more professional development means more sales. That means more, and potentially higher, commissions for them. 

5. Choice of projects

Giving your salespeople the ability to focus on the projects they’re most drawn to is a simple way to boost employee performance. If your company allows for sales reps to sell a certain product line or service, use it to your advantage. 

5 effective employee incentive program ideas for a remote sales team

Last but not least, here are some ideas for employee reward systems for remote sales reps. 

1. Flexible scheduling

Many employees seek work from home or remote roles for flexibility and work-life balance. So, besides not being tied to an office, flexible work days can be a great motivator for your sales team.

2. Home office upgrades

On remote teams, you can’t see each team member’s setup to know when upgrades are in order. So your remote employees will appreciate you ensuring they have what they need. The incentives could be anything from new headsets for taking calls to new computers or ergonomic office chairs. 

3. Certificate or plaques

It’s easy to feel disconnected from the rest of the team when working remotely. Certificates and plaques displayed in their physical spaces are a welcome reminder of your appreciation. They can keep your remote salespeople pumped to work hard for you.

4. Company swag

Branded swag kills two birds with one stone. It incentivizes employees who take pride in the work they’re doing on your team. And it can put your company on the radars of people who may not have previously known about it. It could even be a conversation starter for your sales reps, leading to more closed deals. 

5. Referral programs

Starting a referral program can essentially get you 2x the benefits. Firstly as your current sales team becomes more engaged, and secondly, when they help bring in other top talents.

Incentivizing employees doesn’t stop here. There are even more ideas where these came from. If we’ve got you curious, request a demo of the Arcade performance engagement platform to learn about the best options for your team!

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