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How to incentivize employeesEmployees love to be recognized for their hard work and effort on behalf of your company. Incentives help your employees feel appreciated, and give them something to work for. But when money’s tight, it can be hard to bestow traditional rewards like pay raises and bonuses.

Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to give your employees a reason to keep working hard every day. If you can’t afford to chip in for performance-based raises, you can still offer incentives like flextime options, on the job perks, corporate memberships and family-oriented programs. Often, the best rewards and incentives are non-monetary, like opportunities, praise and experience.

Reward Good Performance with Schedule Flexibility

Today’s employees value work-life balance more than ever. You probably don’t have a single employee who doesn’t have some trouble finding time to meet his or her personal needs without compromising his or her job performance. Whether it’s caring for children or relatives, attending school, making time for friends, working a second job, avoiding a rush-hour traffic jam or simply carving out time for a meaningful hobby, all of your employees are looking for ways to better balance the demands of their personal lives with the demands of their professional lives.

You can reward your best employees — and give the rest a reason to improve — by offering flexible scheduling to those who meet a certain set of requirements. Good attendance, good performance, commitment and professionalism can be rewarded with the ability to adjust one’s daily schedule to meet the demands of life. You may find that implementing a flex working incentive improves productivity and morale — employees who are allowed to work flexibly are happier in their jobs and work harder overall.

Offer Your Best Employees More Opportunities

Opportunities are tangible proof that your organization values an employee’s input. When an employee consistently performs well, consider offering him or her the opportunity for more formal training or education. Give your top performers the chance to act as mentors to younger employees who are just starting out in their careers. Allow your best employees to represent your company at industry conferences, where they might give talks or sit on panels.

Experience is another valuable opportunity that expresses your confidence in your best employees’ abilities. Employees are flattered when they’re given a new challenge or trusted with a new responsibility. Assigning new tasks not only expresses the trust and respect you have for an employee, it also helps him or her to enhance his or her skill set and become a more valuable member of the work force.

Incentivizing EmployeesProvide On-the-Job Perks

All employees who perform consistently need and deserve rewards and incentives, not just your top performers. Perks and rewards for project completion are a great way to provide across-the-board incentives to consistent performers. Offering perks for the completion of a project is great for team building and helps keep your employees focused on furthering your business objectives. On-site massages, catered lunches, retail gift cards and “employee of the month” awards are a great way to accomplish this.

Wellness programs are another way to incentivize all of your employees — and these programs often bring discounts for employee health plans. A workplace wellness initiative can offer prizes and bonuses to employees who lose a certain amount of weight, participate in a certain number of lunchtime workout sessions or successfully quit smoking.

Get the Families Involved

Your employees probably care about their families more than they care about your business, so it’s important to include employee families in your plan to incentivize your workers. Make sure you plan company events and functions that welcome employees and their families. Plan events where they can bring their kids (or pets) to work days, company picnics and movie nights are all great ways to show your employees that you care about their families.

Offer Corporate Memberships

Free or discounted corporate membership programs can help your employees schmooze with clients as well as making them feel good. Take a survey of your employees to find out what kinds of memberships — like gym or recreational memberships — most appeal to them, then shop around to find the best package deal. If your employees are using this membership to entertain clients, you can claim a business tax deduction.

Don’t Forget the Praise

Sometimes the best reward is a kind word from the boss. Don’t underestimate the value employees can place on something as simple as a handwritten note or card. A “thank you” note from the boss could mean the world to a hardworking employee.

Rewarding and incentivizing your employees doesn’t have to be expensive. While employees will always welcome raises and bonuses in return for their hard work, there are plenty of other ways you can show your appreciation and give your employees something to strive for. Use your imagination, and don’t be stingy with the praise.

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