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7 Employee Incentive Programs for Small Businesses


Are you getting the most out of your employees? It’s a conundrum that keeps many a small business owner awake at night. Because while it’s the guiding vision of entrepreneurs that wills their business ideas to life, their ideas and ambitions can only be facilitated by a team of dedicated and talented employees.

No business owner is an island, and the employees that they work with can make all the difference to their productivity, profitability and efficacy. Your employees can be the only thing that separates you from the competitors and if you don’t take steps to ensure that they’re properly motivated and incentivized, you could risk losing them to your competitors, and your loss could become their gain. 

Employee Incentive Programs: They’re an Investment!

Happy-employees-in-office Getting the most out of your employees is far easier when you have an established employee incentive program in place. A program that rewards achievements by giving employees more of what matters to them

It’s important to remember that this is not a cost. It’s an investment. And like any good investment, you can expect to see a significant return when it is properly implemented.

Fail to adopt a meaningful incentive program and you could find that you bottleneck your employee satisfaction, productivity and engagement in ways that cost your business more in the long term. Besides, not all incentive programs are inherently expensive. 

Let’s take a look at some effective (and cost-effective) employee incentive programs for small businesses.

1. Dress Down Fridays

Casual-friday-in-office This is an easy to implement incentive that won’t cost you a penny. If you have a strict dress code in place, implementing dress down days at the end of the week on a weekly or monthly basis can help them to unwind while still getting the job done.

Many employers worry that relaxing their dress code might have a negative impact on productivity but this study found that 61% of employees felt that they were more productive when their dress code was relaxed. 

2. Sharing Employee Achievements on Social Media

Incentivizing employees doesn’t necessarily mean throwing money at them. Cost-conscious business owners should remember that employee recognition just as important if not more meaningful than monetary bonuses.

Implementing a program that allows you to share and celebrate employees’ achievements can have a significant impact on their motivation, job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.

You can do this over your own internal network or implement an employee acknowledgement platform (there are plenty to choose from). These work just like the social media platforms employees use in their free time (Facebook actually has their own- Workplace) but are designed exclusively for use at work. These can be a fantastic way to encourage employee recognition as well as peer-to-peer recognition.

3. Make it Easier for Them to Stay Fit and Healthy

Person-picking-up-dumbells Studies show that healthier employees are more productive with a 27% drop in absenteeism when they enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Thus, anything you can do to ensure that they’re fit and healthy is definitely worth considering.

Incentivizing employees to walk or cycle to work, giving them access to healthy meals, giving discounted access to a local gym, doing a 5k run together or having an office-wide weight loss program can be effective in keeping your workforce active, fit and healthy.

4. Ongoing Training, Learning and Development

If you want to keep your employees properly incentivized and motivated, it’s essential to give them regular access to training and learning opportunities as well as a personalized course of ongoing professional development. 

Get to know their personal and career goals. Show them that you value them as a person outside of their day to day job responsibilities. All-too often employers abandon their employee training after the onboarding process is complete.

While this is understandable (training can, after all, be costly and disruptive) today’s investment can reap dividends for years to come. 

5. Profit Sharing

Your company’s success is your employees’ success. Since they play such an integral part in ensuring your ongoing profitability, it makes sense that they should also share in your company’s profits.

Businesses have a system of profit sharing where every individual employee gets an equal share in the company’s profits. It’s a great way to create a feeling of personal investment in your company and show your employees the part they play in your success in a meaningful and tangible way. 

6. Take Them on Incentive Trips

Woman-on-trip Incentive trips can be a fantastic way of giving your employees a meaningful and restful break while also strengthening their relationship with your company.

By taking employees on trips to locations they might not have the time or means to visit otherwise you can show them how valued they are to you while also ensuring that they are more engaged and motivated upon their return. You may also want to use an incentive trip as a reward for a team that meets specific goals. 

7. Allow Them to Earn Time Off 

In order for an incentive program to be effective, it needs to be meaningful to the employee, giving them more of what means the most to them. While many are motivated by monetary rewards, more are motivated by being awarded more free time. After all, it’s the one thing they can never make more of. 

If you’re dubious about providing monetary incentives on the basis of cost, time-related bonuses (from an extra long lunch break to a full paid day off) might be a more meaningful incentive for employees and more desirable to employers from a cost perspective. 

Request Employee Feedback Regularly

Incentive programs are far more effective and meaningful when employees have a hand in shaping them. So be sure to collect employee feedback on a regular basis and ensure that there’s an open forum or suggestion box which allows them to suggest their own ideas for incentives that they’d like to see. 

If you would like help putting together your employee incentive program, contact the experts at MTI Events today. We specialize in creating memorable incentive trips and programs for companies just like yours!

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