Incentivizing employees has never been such a hot topic, nor such a highly disputed one. 

Gone are the days of thinking that pay raises and titles are the only way to motivate people. Who would have thought that money wasn’t enough?

Pay raises and titles are obviously something that can motivate employees. But the reality is that people are driven by more than just money and bonuses.

The word incentive itself means: “a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something.” Notice that money isn’t written in this description?  

There are multiple factors to consider when thinking about incentivizing your employees. Here we’ll talk about a few to get you thinking.

  1. Incentivizing has a lot to do with the firm you’re working with. 

The first step involves looking at the job description, then learning all you can about the industry standards (to compare to your own), and recognizing your place. 

A key example to think about would be a company like Bungie. Yes, they offer extremely good pay. The trade-off is being expected to work insane hours, so to incentivize creativity and hard work from their employees, Bungie redesigned their building to include a top of the line gym and a break room that puts most industry standards to shame. So even if you’re working 60+ hour weeks at least you can go to the gym on your break or after work. 

Unusual perks like this can really make a difference when enticing candidates. It can also make a difference when analyzing performance data. The more satisfied and fulfilled employees are, the better they are in performing. 

  1. Instead of thinking monetary, think about the employee’s personal goals, personality, and team dynamics. 

If you had a creativity-based team, you might promote the “idea bounty” concept and encourage new ideas and fresh thinking. A company we researched would bring a snack of the employees choosing in response to new ideas that were voted on via the team. One company even takes employees out to happy hour if the team performs well enough.

But we know that every employee has different needs and it can be hard to meet all their expectations. For instance, some employees are motivated by praise and recognition whereas others are more motivated by materialistic gains, such as money or a nicer desk. 

In contrast, think about how often people will take lower-paying jobs to work for a company that provides them with more fulfillment like time with their family. 

  1. To provide for your employee, it takes getting to know them – learning about what makes them want to perform more and how you can assist. 

An easy way to get this information would be a survey or an email asking for feedback from your employees. And, if you’re the one giving feedback, we suggest the 1 to 2 rule – for every negative feedback provide 2 positives that outweigh it to keep employees from shutting down. 

  1. Another thing to consider when incentivizing employees is your purpose. What is the point of your incentive? What is it that you’re hoping to accomplish? 

Certain incentives bring up certain results, so choose wisely when you come up with a direction. 

For example, if you wanted to increase retention, you could provide incentives like a share in the company after a certain amount of time working for the company. Sometimes articles refer to this as ‘equity” within the company. Or promote a fun, flexible workplace to prevent employees from getting bored or feeling trapped over time. Factors such as a workplace being well-lit, having plants or having a pleasing appearance can really change an employee’s attitude about their workplace. Even a game room could motivate and encourage employees.

Ultimately, incentivizing your employees is about making sure your employees feel respected, that they are in-the-know, can provide input into the decisions being made, and feel valued in the workplace. 

It’s basic psychology: why would you want to work where you didn’t feel important? Why would you want to work where you were disrespected? Seems like common sense but you’d be surprised how often businesses forget to consider it!

If you make your employees know that they matter to you, their performance will show. Care about your employees and they will care about you.