How You Can Increase Employee Motivation with Incentives

Lächelnde Geschäftsfrau hält im Büro ein paar Luftballons, als Zeichen für wertschätzende Incentives.

Companies can’t operate without motivated employees. That’s why, especially in difficult times, it’s important not to lose focus on team motivation. The current coronavirus crisis is a major challenge for employees and management. While many people in certain sectors have been working non-stop for weeks, others have had to completely reorganize themselves to work from home. Many have been confronted with fears of what their job will look like after the coronavirus. In these uncertain times, companies can encourage their employees by showing special recognition and appreciation. For that, employee incentives play an important role.

Why are employee incentives so important for motivation?

A company’s performance and sustainability significantly depend on the motivation of its employees. In light of the future demographic changes, almost all companies rely on being perceived as appealing employers. After all, they want to reach the “best minds” in the job market and retain them for the company in the long term. Employee incentives are an established tool for increasing motivation. Money alone isn’t the main component. Employees want recognition, to be appreciated personally, and to have a generally positive working atmosphere. Besides a fair salary, Millennials and Gen Z especially want freedom and personal fulfillment from their jobs.

In a study with 1,000 participants, Sodexo — the leading provider of company benefits and employee incentives — investigates which benefits and offers for employees are especially important. For 90 percent of the participants, well-earned freedom is the most important. And in second place, 88 percent want opportunities for continuing training for their professional or personal development. Other important motivational factors are:

– Flexible working hours (82 percent)

– As little as possible paid overtime (75 percent)

– Family-friendliness (62 percent)

– Vacation bonuses from the employer (48 percent).

Individual employee incentives are also popular among the participants and play a particular role for motivation. With employee incentives, companies can express recognition and appreciation. In addition, there are financial advantages connected for employees and the company. If the limits on non-cash benefits are observed, employee incentives are also tax-free.

5 steps to the right employee incentives

When choosing the right employee incentives, the team’s wishes should remain the most important aspect to consider. But currently, it’s also a way to say thanks to employees who have to deliver maximum performance in difficult conditions and to give a motivation boost to those working from home. Companies can orient themselves around these 5 steps when making the choice:

1. Taking inventory 

Which employee incentives are offered now in the company? Which incentives could complement what’s already on offer? Think of training during the coronavirus crisis: Employees working from home are challenged with developing new everyday structure and time management for it. An online course offered through the company can be an effective support.

  1. Tips from practical experience

A comparison between sectors and companies can be helpful for planning incentives. Which incentives do other companies in the sector offer? Which ones work well and for what reason? Management can use their contacts in the sector and learn from the experiences in other companies.

  1. Collect employee feedback

It’s even more important to accurately meet the wishes of the workforce with employee incentives. A short survey can give feedback where employees can indicate how satisfied they are with the current incentives on offer and where they have suggestions for improvement.

  1. Narrow down the selection

To make the range of employee incentives on offer straightforward, the pros and cons of different options should be weighed by all the relevant stakeholders. The goal at first is to filter up the best three options. It’s the employees who should like the incentives, but there’s nothing wrong with the company benefiting as well. One example of a training option that helps both sides would be the interactive online language courses from Babbel. Many companies already offer language learning with Babbel as an employee incentive. In the business context, languages become important for most employees sooner or later. And a Babbel language course can be part of the preparation — and anticipation — for the next vacation.

  1. Roll-out

If a favorite employee incentive was found from among the different options, the roll-out can start and the incentive can be established step-by-step in the company. Tip: A good time to let employees know about the new incentive could be an anniversary or another business-related or personal milestone. Employee incentives can also be used to increase and support motivation after announcing less joyful news or during times of crisis.

How your company can concretely benefit from employee incentives

Employee incentives contribute to the success of the company in many different areas. More than anything else, training options positively affect employee motivation and at the same time contribute to extending skills and increasing performance. Beyond that, incentives support team cohesion, which is especially important in light of headcount shortages. As mentioned earlier, employee incentives have financial and tax-related benefits for companies.

Employees who have the possibility to use tailored training options practice life-long learning and gain more self-effectiveness in their professional and private lives. For today’s generation of employees, this isn’t just appealing, but it also has a long-term positive effect on the working atmosphere and the success of the company.

Editorial Department

Editorial Department