30 Employee Incentives Your Employees Will Appreciate in 2022

Business Management
Rea Regan September 15, 2021 12 min read

When it comes to engaging, motivating, and keeping your employees happy, employee incentives are a great method to implement at your company. And no, we don’t mean bonuses and high pay (although that’s always appreciated.) Here are 30 affordable, creative employee incentives ideas you can start today.

light bulb sparking employee incentive ideas for managers

Quick Guide

    Have you noticed that employee engagement is low?

    And so is motivation, productivity, and even employee happiness?

    You might want to look closer at your employee incentive program, for starters.

    Rewarding your employees will help boost employee engagement and keep them motivated. Only by recognizing the need and following through can you recruit the best talent and keep employees happy.

    Pay raises and promotions are not the only tools you can use as employee incentives – think out of the box to truly energize your staff.

    Plus, employee incentives don’t need to be elaborate, pricey, or hard to implement, sometimes the simplest gesture can go a long way.

    Employers should know that employee incentives have a huge part in employee retention and attracting top talent. However, ensure that create an employee incentive program that genuinely rewards the actual behaviors you want to incentivize.

    Why Are Employee Incentives Important?

    There are a few key reasons why employee incentives must be a part of your company’s culture, for example:

    • Increase productivity
    • Better employee engagement and morale
    • Retain employees
    • Attract top talent
    • Helps employees reach and exceed company goals
    • Encourage teamwork and collaboration

    It’s important to remember that employee incentives help build and foster employee morale, so make sure that your employees feel appreciated for their hard work. When you distribute employee incentives appropriately and on a regular basis, then you are helping not just your employees but also yourself and the bottom line.

    30 Employee Incentives to Keep Employees Engaged, Motivated, and Happy

    Lunch Or Dinner With The Boss

    Whether you’re a massive company or a small business, it can be hard to chat or have access to the person at the top. So setting up a lunch or dinner with the CEO can help to increase loyalty, make the employee feel special and recognized and they can pitch ideas to the person who makes all the decisions. Plus, it gives the CEO a chance to connect with employees he or she doesn’t regularly come in contact with.

    Puppy Fun

    Talk with a local shelter and have them bring puppies (or grown dogs) to the office so the staff can play with them. It’s not just fun, but it is proven to relieve stress! Additionally, if an employee adopts one of the puppies, gift them with a “starter kit” full of treats, a leash, some toys, etc.

    If you’re looking for general tips on reducing employee stress, check out this guide!

    dogs in the office as an employee incentive

    Free Team Lunch

    Who doesn’t love food? Yes, everyone has their own preference so let the teams choose where they will spend lunch. Rotate the departments so everyone has a chance to enjoy this employee incentive. It’s a great perk for everyone to enjoy, and it doesn’t have to be pizza either. Try an office barbecue, a cooking class, or bring in a chef to cook for everyone on the spot.

    Scratch Offs

    Buy some $5 scratch-offs and gift them to your employees. It can be more fun than just a plain gift card and who knows how much they could win!  

    This could even be a gift you give every month or for someone’s birthday.

    Wine Tasting or Brewery Tour

    Either send an entire department or use it as an employee incentive they can share with a family member or friend. It is best to go on a Friday or weekend so the employee can really enjoy themselves.

    Work From Home

    Sometimes a break from the office is just what the doctor ordered. And no one has to stress about getting ready in a hurry and beating morning traffic just to get to the office. Working in your PJs can be a blast.

    Not to mention, it’s more environmentally friendly and can lead to more productive and happier employees!

    And given how much COVID-19 has changed, working from home is kind of the norm these days.

    In fact, a Stanford University study found that productivity increase among remote workers is equivalent to an extra day per person per week. And remote workers are, on average, less likely to burn out and in many ways more engageable than in-house workers.

    If you’re interested in work from home as a solution, check out our free eBook filled with practical and easy-to-implement strategies to make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible.

    Movie Tickets

    As far as employee incentives go, this one is a no-brainer. Buy some movie ticket coupons in bulk and gift them to your staff just because or when they hit a goal. They can share the tickets with friends and family as they catch the hottest film of the year.

    Netflix Subscription

    Okay, so maybe nowadays most people prefer to stay home and watch Netflix instead of heading to a movie theater. Add $50 to a Netflix gift card so your staff can binge-watch The Office for the 50th time.

    This could also apply to YouTube TV, Hulu, and other streaming sites.

    Casual Dress

    Let your employees choose which Friday they’ll come to work dressed in casual attire, however, make sure they are aware of what a business casual dress code means so they don’t show up in something inappropriate. Employees will enjoy coming to work dressed down a bit as it is more comfortable and can ease them.

    Instant Employee Recognition

    If you’re using a digital tool, like Slack or the Connecteam employee communication app, then it’s super easy to share instant employee recognition. (After all, everything is basically digital these days, your employee incentive program can be too!)

    Send updates to all your employees in seconds – create groups per location, department, project, or anything else relevant to your business. It can be an important announcement, a weekly goal update, a quick message, birthday wishes, a company anniversary, or acknowledge an individual employee’s success.

    Encourage and engage your employees with public recognition that all their co-workers will see, this helps to motivate your employees as they’re placed in the spotlight.

    Generating employee recognition in real-time with Connecteam's employee app

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    On-Site Fitness Class

    Bring in a yoga or pilates instructor in the morning to help everyone loosen up and get ready for the day. Or finish off the day with a high-intensity workout (because no one wants to walk around the office drenched in sweat all day).

    Lazy Monday Start

    One Monday a month, let all your employees come in later than usual. It can help them avoid the morning rush while keeping them happier as they got to sleep in.

    A Certificate or Plaque

    A simple employee incentive that can go a long way, gift an employee with a special certificate or plaque. It can be professional such as breaking a company record in sales, meeting a tough KPI, etc.

    Or it can be a silly certificate like the best mustache, funniest employee, best coffee drinker, etc.

    Company Swag

    Tech accessories are a great employee incentive – from headphones to car phone chargers and anything in between. And you can personalize the accessories with the company logo and branding or even an employee’s own name.

    Go Off Site

    Get all of your employees out of the office to enjoy activities and games so that you can build a strong culture and also have everyone get to know one another a bit better. Choose activities that are accessible to everyone.

    Bring Your Pet To Work

    Like we already mentioned, dogs help relieve stress so why not let your employees bring their own four-legged best friend to the office?! It’s fun and your employees will appreciate the chance to bring along their best friend.

    bring your pet to work benefits

    Your employees can also bring their cats to work if they aren’t dog people. (GASP!)

    Volunteer Together

    Either let everyone sign up to various charities they can volunteer at or let the departments choose. It is a great way to get everyone out of the office and to give back to the community. Plus, it can help boost the community’s image of how they view the company.

    VIP Parking

    If it is possible, gift your employees a special parking spot for a week or even a month.

    Handwritten Note

    Sure, this seems old-fashioned but it’s effective.

    Show your employees you care by taking the time to write them a personalized note. Thank them for all their hard work or congratulate them on achieving their KPIs or even on a personal note, like getting engaged, buying a house, getting a new dog, etc. Make the note whatever you want, your employees will appreciate it.

    handwritten note as employee incentive

    Breakfast Treat

    We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day so arrange for a morning filled with donuts, hot coffee, pancakes, egg sandwiches, and so on.

    This will fill your employee’s bellies so they have more energy to work hard for the day.


    Dedicate one of the meeting rooms for a special nap time where employees can sign up for a 20-minute slot. That’s probably one of the best employee incentives we’re ever heard of!

    Office Games

    Get a ping pong table or foosball for the office to enjoy. Whenever employees need just a few minutes to unwind and burn off steam, they can enjoy a quick game of ping pong or foosball. Plus, it’s easy to move if you need to save space.

    LinkedIn Recommendation

    Write a glowing recommendation for your employees to reward them for a job well done.

    Meal Delivery

    Meal prep can be tedious and time-consuming so ease that task by setting up your employee with a meal delivery for a week. This way, their favorite meals can show up straight to the office when it’s lunchtime.

    This became a huge employee incentive during the pandemic that many parents appreciated.

    Custom Coffee Cup

    There is no doubt that almost every one of your employees is a coffee drinker so why not get them a customized coffee cup or mug?

    You can even add the company logo to it.

    Traveling Trophy

    Have a trophy of some kind that moves from employee to employee (whether it’s weekly or monthly) based on them doing something outstanding – like going above and beyond for a customer, landing a huge deal, etc. The trophy can be voted on by their peers.

    Professional Growth and Development

    Employee incentives are not just trivial gifts. Actually taking the time to invest in the growth of your employees will keep them around for the long haul.

    And if you have younger employees then know that  87% said that development is important in their job.

    So you can create your own training courses, hold one-on-one classes, send them to seminars, sign them up for online classes, and more.

    Profit Sharing

    Profit sharing isn’t like offering a 401K. With a profit sharing plan, your employees can receive contributions to their retirement account, like in cash or stock forms, and can even receive direct payments.

    This is a great employee incentive as it helps to empower your staff as they are more invested in the company’s success.

    Tuition Reinbursement

    Did you know that 79% of employees reported that tuition assistance is a key factor when joining a company?

    People are curious by nature and if your staff want to learn more then why not incentivize them for doing so? By encouraging continuing education, you build a more robust culture that excels in recognition.

    Choose Your Own Project(s)

    A great employee incentive is to allow your employees to choose what projects, or shifts, they want to work. This helps you build trust among your team and holds employees accountable.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Incentives

    1. What Are Some Common Best Practices To Shape Employee Incentives?

    There are a few things that you can do to build out your employee incentive program. For example, write it all out in your employee handbook in case anyone has any questions.

    Additional tips include:

    • Make it inclusive and ask your employees what they prefer (and what they don’t)
    • Hang posters up, send emails, start a chat thread, etc. to share what the employee incentives are and what the program entails
    • Lead by example with senior management
    • Personalize your employee incentives

    2. Should I Use A Digital Tool To Share Employee Incentives?

    The world is already digital in its nature, especially when it comes to how businesses operate. (Plus, your employees are human after all, chances are they spend hours scrolling on their phone so why should how you incentivize them be any different?)

    The Connecteam employee management app makes it easy to dish out employee incentives. How so?

    • Create a digital employee handbook with a specific section on employee incentives
    • Start a group or 1:1 chat to share updates and announcements
    • Send surveys or live polls to learn more about what your employees want
    • Use the virtual suggestion box so your employees can drop in ideas whenever the thought strikes them
    • Include GIFs, pictures, videos, audio notes, and more

    Get started for free now!

    3. Are Employee Incentives Expensive?

    That all depends on the employee incentive itself. If you’re dishing out raises and bonuses, then yes, that will cost you.

    However, many of the employee incentive ideas we shared above are more creative in their nature so it shouldn’t be that costly.

    The Bottom Line On Employee Incentives

    Employee incentives offer powerful and affirming recognition so be sure to foster this into your company’s culture. When it’s done effectively, you help build employee motivation and engagement because, in today’s society, employees desire to be a part of something bigger. And as we already said, employee incentives don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket either, sometimes a simple “thank you, nice work” can go a long way.

    Certainly, all these employee incentives can help you improve the morale of your employees. And not only that, but they can also translate into a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for them.

    However, it is possible that depending on the time of year or the profile of the employee you need other types of incentives, so in that case, we recommend you to check these appreciation ideas where you can find various gifts categorized into 10 groups.

    Don’t overlook the idea that some employees may consider gifts as a reflection of their value within the company. So if you have a part of your staff burned out from work, maybe a small detail can make them feel valued again. In the end, it’s all about building a strong and united team.

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