Employee experience

Low-cost Employee Incentives for Higher Retention

Small gestures can go a long way when it comes to motivating and rewarding your employees. Here are 8 small employee incentives that make a big impact.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

July 28, 2022

Updated on 

Time to Read

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The only way for businesses to show appreciation for a worker’s effort or success is to increase their salary or give them a promotion. Or at least, that’s what most employers still think. Truth is, showing your appreciation doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

According to research data published by the American Psychological Association Center or APA, a little over half of the US workforce (51%) feel that their employer values their work. This is a very small percentage considering how many options you have to show your appreciation today. 

Many employers think that rewarding the team costs a lot of money. This doesn’t have to be the case at all. This article will cover eight excellent ideas to reward your team without big raises or promotions. 

You probably wonder why you should worry about incentives in the first place. Many employers think: “I’ll simply promote them when the time comes for it”. However, your employees need a boost, praise, and motivation from you. That being said, let’s first see how you can benefit from this.

The value of employee incentives

There are plenty of reasons why you should have an employee recognition program in place. For starters, this does wonders for your team’s morale. People love to feel valued and appreciated, and they’ll be more confident in doing their job if they know they’re doing it well. 

More and more companies are realizing the importance of incentives today. The incentives industry is currently valued at over $100 billion. This means that if you don’t offer employee perks and incentives, someone else will. In such a competitive business world, you surely don’t want to lose great workers just to save a few bucks!

Rewards and incentives have a very high success rate. They are known to increase employee performance by as much as 44%.

In other words, a good perks program is of tremendous value for your business. It will make your team more motivated to work, more confident, and save you tremendous sums of money in the long run. If you show appreciation for your team, they’ll be more willing to stay with you and help you reach your business goals.

Isn’t that what every employer strives to achieve?

It is the goal of employers to find the right people to do the job well. Then, it is their goal to keep these people onboard. Many workers today leave their jobs in search for better conditions and better reward programs. Finding new employees and onboarding them to work with you takes time and tons of money and compared with that, the small incentives we’ll list here are nothing. 

Incentives that won’t cost you a fortune

Let’s say that you recognize the potential of a good employee recognition program, but fear that this will cost more than you can afford. 

Don’t worry - we have the perfect ideas for employee incentives on a budget.

1. PerkBox’s ideas for a salary sacrifice scheme

This is our favorite, low-cost solution for your incentive doubts. PerkBox, a trending tool used to create and implement smart recognition programs, has pinpointed a unique low-cost incentive you could use for your employees. Perkboxs ideas for employees include a so-called salary sacrifice scheme. Let’s see what this means. 

A salary sacrifice scheme is a clever benefit program. In it, your employees can choose to allocate a certain amount of their salary to something they need or want such as, for example, a low-emission car. 

In this case, both sides benefit from the incentive. You and your worker will receive and pay less in taxable salaries. 

Perkbox also mentions another good example of this - private healthcare plans. This can be very popular with your workers, especially now when the workforce is highly focused on health benefits, prompted by the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some health cash plans are highly affordable, and they get even better if you purchase them in bulk for all of your employees. You can easily tailor these to meet yours and your team’s needs. With the salary sacrifice scheme, both parties can save money and foster a better relationship. 

2. The ‘wall of fame’

One example of employee recognition is the wall of fame. This is a great incentive, and costs almost nothing to make it happen.

The ‘wall of fame’ is simply a public recognition for your team’s most productive members. Some companies use terms like ‘worker of the month’ and add the photo of the employee - or simply their name, on the famous wall of fame. 

If you decide to do this, make sure to place this ‘wall’ in a highly visible place (whether digital or in-person). This will make your best employees feel appreciated, but it will also serve as an example for others. The success story of one employee can motivate others to do their best and get on that wall in the future. 

3. Give them the opportunity to choose their projects

High-achieving employees need to know that you notice their great work and appreciate it. You might not be able to raise their salary or promote them just yet, but this is no reason not to praise their hard work. 

One cost-effective incentive that will empower your best workers is giving them more control over what they’ll work for. Instead of assigning projects to them, why not give them the freedom to decide what they’ll do next?

Of course, you will still oversee their work and success, but by giving them the opportunity to pick their next project, you are showing that you trust your employees. You can even give them the option to organize their own schedule - or decide whether they want to work at the office or at home.

4. Use gift cards to incentivize them

Putting their picture on a wall or saying ‘good job’ is a good incentive, but it only goes so far. You can’t expect your team to be engaged in their job if you only praise their work verbally. 

An affordable way to show your appreciation is to hand out gift cards. There are so many options for you to consider and the price range is tremendous. 

In order for this to have the best effect possible, hand out gift cards individually based on the employee’s hobbies and likes. If you know where they want to dine, give them a gift card for that restaurant. If you know where they shop, get a gift card for that store. 

This way, you’ll make the gift card even more meaningful. Your worker will know that you appreciate their effort, but also pay attention to them individually, not just in a team. 

5. Celebrate the lesser-known holidays

Did you know that there’s an ‘administrative professionals day’? Not just that, but there are also some funny, incentive-based days that some companies celebrate today to boost engagement in the workplace. 

For example, the last Friday in January is National Have Fun at Work day. When this day comes, bring some fun into the office. Plan some games, bring some snacks, and simply celebrate the day with your team. This won’t cost you much and it will show your team that you care!

This is also a great team-building activity, so it’s a win-win. 

6. Invite them to a one-on-one lunch

Being invited to a personal, one-on-one lunch with the employer as a thank-you for your great work is a great gesture. You can’t do this all the time, but when a worker truly demonstrates their skill and dedication, send them an individual invitation to have lunch with you. 

During this lunch, tell them how well they did their work and how much you appreciate them. Such an individualized approach will show them that you value their work specifically and make them more motivated to work for your company. 

A professional lunch with two or three people won’t cost you a lot, but it will mean a lot to your employees. 

7. Invest in professional development and mentorship opportunities

People that don’t have professional development opportunities offered to them in the workplace are highly likely to leave the company in just a few years. Research shows that employees will leave if they don't have opportunities to develop and grow. 

Your workers will love to have the option to climb higher on the career ladder, learn more from mentors, and become better at their work. This is one of the best incentives you can give them - and the options are not at all expensive today!

Just make sure to tailor your development incentive to the skills and needs of the individual. When you want to praise someone’s work, offer them paid training or a course voucher for something they are interested in or might want to learn more about. 

8. Additional time-off

Losing some employees for extra time can sound like a costly incentive, but did you know that most workers would rather get a salary reduction in return for extra vacation time?

If you cannot afford to give them extra paid days off, at least offer them this option. It should be their decision whether or not they want to use it. You’d be surprised to learn how many would jump at this opportunity and would really enjoy some time off. 

Save money and motivate your team with these cost-effective incentives

Small gestures can go a long way when it comes to motivating and rewarding your employees. Naturally, employees will expect grand changes as they work hard in their career, such as raises and promotions. However, this doesn’t mean that you should limit your reward system solely on that. Incentives are a moving force when it comes to employees. 

Have you used any of these incentives so far? As you can see, these cost nothing at all to very little. Your team wants to feel valued and will appreciate the thought, not to mention be motivated to work harder and better

 The benefits you get from them are tremendous, so start working on your perks program today!

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