5 Cost Effective Ways to Incentivize Employees


Recognition has been shown to increase employees' happiness both at work and at home. Recognition also contributes to trust in leadership.


A 2016 WorkHuman Research Institute report called "The ROI of Recognition in Building a More Human Workplace" shows that 90% of people who receive timely recognition or thanks from their boss indicate higher levels of trust in that boss.


A simple "thank you" is of course free, but organizations also look to show appreciation through more formalized incentives. How can smaller organizations compete with the flashy rewards provided by corporate giants?


1. Meaningful Work. Providing your team with meaningful work is not only free, it's impactful. A Harvard Business Review article published in 2015 identifies three specific types of meaning to consider:

  • Meaningful work - how employees believe in and contribute to the mission of the organization;

  • Meaningful connections - deep relationships with colleagues and clientele;

  • Meaningful progress - feeling a sense of accomplishment.

2. Time for Development. Give your team time off work during work for personal development. Learning a new skill, engaging in mentoring, or volunteering may cost a few hours of productivity, but employees gain valuable skills.


3. Profit Sharing. When your team does well, so does your organization. Profit sharing is a good way to ensure that people stick around for the long haul.


4. Flexibility. Flex time, remote work, and generous vacation time can help improve work-life balance for your team.


5. Bonuses. We saved the most obvious for last. Incentivize employees for achievements like keeping a new project on schedule. Just make sure that bonuses are based on metrics that employees can control.


This article was derived from "Champagne Incentives on a Beer Budget," which appeared in Your Workplace's September/October 2018 edition.