Incentives for Employees, What do People Want?

Employers and managers who want to get more from their employees use incentive awards wisely to reward exceptional performance. It's human nature to respond to positive rewards regardless of the circumstances in which the positive behavior occurs. 

The most important thing that people want is recognition for their contribution that goes above and beyond expectations. In addition to verbal and written praise, financial incentives will motivate employees regardless of position or role within a company. Besides improving the desire for employees to increase their contributions, rewards go a long way toward improving employee retention rates. 

Travel packages
One of the most popular employee incentive programs have been travel packages. Sending employees off on an all-inclusive paid vacation to destinations near and far is one of the best win-win reward programs. Getting away refreshes and renews the recipient, which benefits the employer. The winner comes back fresh and rested, and is more likely to perform at a higher level. 

When rewarding a group of employees for an outstanding performance, a group travel package as incentive awards also has its benefits. The employees will spend social time together and it's likely they'll discuss work in one way or another, the interaction will bring them together in a relaxed environment.

The result could be fresh ideas for your company, resulting in higher productivity and profitability, well beyond the cost of the incentive. According to the Incentive Travel Council website, companies who use travel as an incentive can see four times the benefit from the investment in greater employee engagement and performance. 

Gift Cards
Another effective incentive program is giving people gift cards for stores they are likely to value. Cash alone has been proven to be an acceptable incentive, but giving it in a debit card format lets people choose how they spend it. Research has found that these types of gift cards make people feel more rewarded than a check from the accounting or payroll department.

Like travel programs, people associate a gift card with the experience of using it rather than the mundane experience of putting money in the bank. 

Social rewards
Rewarding and retaining employees improves your bottom line and creates a thriving environment for high employee morale which aids in employee productivity. Employee of the month programs have been used and have value as long as the incentive awards make sense. Being able to park next to the employee entrance door is an example of a way to single out someone's performance.

Given the importance of recognition, some companies are turning to social media online to strengthen the value of rewarding their high performing staff. If your company uses Facebook or Twitter, calling out someone's contribution could be an effective way to communicate the accomplishment to others. However, if the person would rather keep a low online profile, give him or her the option to decline, or limit the exposure to your company's intranet. 

No doubts exist in companies whose use incentive awards as part of their employee productivity and retention programs. Many studies have shown that each dollar spent on recognition and rewards create a better work environment where people's attitudes improve about work. They're also likely to pay the investment you make in the incentive back many times over in better job performance.