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Get More from Your Team - 5 Employee Incentive Program Ideas that Pay Off

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Get More from Your Team - 5 Employee Incentive Program Ideas that Pay Off

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: June 17, 2010 Updated: May 23, 2014

No longer regarded as a frivolous and unnecessary expense, employee incentive programs are now widely accepted as justifiable and beneficial.

That's the conclusion anyway of a study carried out by McGill University's Institute for Health and Social Policy* that studied businesses that entertain employee-friendly policies for a period of six years. As reported in Inc.com*, the study concluded that companies who introduce employee incentive programs saw increased efficiencies and productivity among employees.

Employee incentives needn't break the bank, and the benefits are numerous – boosting morale through engagement and reward; stimulating productivity; and encouraging a collective participation in the success of the business.

Here are five ways to introduce employee incentives into your day-to-day business strategy:

1. Flex Time

    One of the biggest reasons work-at-home business owners enjoy what they do is not necessarily that they are their own boss, but that they can work the hours that work for them. Likewise, offering the opportunity for flexible hours can be a great incentive for attracting and retaining high performing and motivated employees.

    Flex time does't mean less time; it just means you are allowing your employees to enjoy more flexible schedules. Follow these steps and you will be able to accommodate your operational needs while balancing the needs of your employees:

    - Start by setting guidelines as to what is acceptable, and make this a universal policy. For example, if you intend to offer flexible work hours, make sure yo're your employees are able to make up those hours during the rest of the week. This could mean coming in one hour earlier each day, or staying later in the evening.

    - Decide who is eligible for flex time. Depending on the nature of your business, you may not be able to offer this benefit to all employees. A good rule of thumb is to establish eligibility by performance or tenure.

    - Formalize the policy by implementing a flex time request process that allows enough time for review, scheduling adjustments, and coverage. You'll also need to compare requests to vacation schedules.

    - Lastly, monitor the program. Is performance affected? Has the system been abused? Have you needed to revoke privileges and why? What can you do to fine tune your program without upsetting the apple cart?

      2. Celebrate the Wider Business Family

        Your business success depends not only on your employees, but also the support of their families. Plan company functions and events that are oriented towards employees and their families – from picnics to movie nights and bring your kids/pets to work days. The choice is yours and needn't break the bank.

        3. Introduce Project Completion Perks

          Incentivizing employees for goal-oriented project completion is a great way to build a team but also to engage and stimulate your employees to support your business objectives. This can involve recognizing individual achievement, "Sales Associate of the Month" or team success. Incentives don't have to come at the end of the project either; consider catered lunches, on-site massage therapy and other perks to keep employees motivated as they work toward a team goal.

          4. Launch a Workplace Wellness Program

            What better way to show your investment in your employees than to help them invest in their wellness? And it doesn't have to involve a great deal of money or administrative work.

            To understand what will work in your workplace, start by doing an employee needs assessment. Survey your employees' wellness priorities – whether it's losing weight, quitting smoking or enhancing the workplace team environment. From there, compile a calendar or schedule of activities. These could change month-to-month, or happen concurrently.

            Wellness initiatives can also be tied to incentives and perks. Incentivize employees to quit smoking by offering a prize or bonus to those who quit or look for ways to encourage other healthy lifestyle choices such as introducing a 30-minute lunchtime team walk that includes free spring water and a power snack! You could even offer reward points for participation.

            Read Dawn Rivers Baker's 10 Steps to a Microbusiness Wellness Program for more ideas.

            The CDC's Healthier Worksite Initiative also offers more information, resources and step-by-step toolkits to help you improve the health and morale of your employees through workplace wellness programs.

            5. Corporate Memberships - Get Out and Enjoy Life (bring a client too)!

              Discounted or free corporate memberships can help promote employee wellbeing (e.g. gym memberships) while also enabling and promoting company goals (golf or other recreational or entertainment memberships can act as venues for client entertainment).

              Before you institute any corporate membership program, assess your employee and company needs (and don't forget that different employees may place a higher value on certain memberships based on their function). Next, do your research. Compare discount packages, and make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. You'll also need to decide which employees are eligible.

              Remember, if you use these corporate memberships for client entertainment, you can claim customer entertainment expenses (including meals) as a tax deduction (as long as there is a clear business purpose for them) and substantial business discussions are held before, during or after the entertainment. The tax deduction is generally limited to 50% of the expenses incurred.

              Read more about business tax deductions from the IRS. And talk to your accountant about other deductions that you can benefit from when it comes to implementing employee incentives.

              Related Posts

              * Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

               

              About the Author:

              Caron Beesley

              Contributor

              Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

              Comments:

              great Information Thank you
              Great ideas, Tnx Caron, Always looking for new ways to improve my business. It’s amazing how many small and easy things you can do to make some noticable changes!
              I'm glad that you brought up golf as entertainment. Businesses need to see the value of getting their employees on the golf course. It's a win-win for all.
              Incentives can evolve around the 3 F's Flexibility- in Schedule,type of work,how, where you work, who you work with Family- Will differ depending on your workplace demographics Baby Boomers may desire elder care Gen X desires help with child care ( or time off on weekends etc) Gen Y likes to involve their parents in their career goals Fun- To add the unexpected -Ice cream Friday, take a day off certificate, change roles for a day, head up a committee, balloons at your desk when you come in for work -The possibilities are endless be creative, be flexible and be spontaneous! ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
              Incentives can evolve around the 3 F's Flexibility- in Schedule,type of work,how, where you work, who you work with Family- Will differ depending on your workplace demographics Baby Boomers may desire elder care Gen X desires help with child care ( or time off on weekends etc) Gen Y likes to involve their parents in their career goals Fun- To add the unexpected -Ice cream Friday, take a day off certificate, change roles for a day, head up a committee, balloons at your desk when you come in for work -The possibilities are endless be creative, be flexible and be spontaneous! ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.

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