A pat on the back for a job well done can be a surprisingly powerful tool. In fact, recognition (or rather the lack thereof) is one of the top reasons why employees leave their jobs, so it is important to make it a priority. Whether your organization has a formal awards program which recognizes great performance or you simply take the time to recognize someone’s hard work personally, a bit of recognition can motivate an employee in a far more meaningful way than a cash incentive. Not only will you be helping to incentivize your workforce, you will also be aiding retention at the same time.
Developmental opportunities have long been a major priority for employees, so it should come as no surprise that they can make very powerful incentives. By offering employees the chance to develop themselves – whether through offering formal training, the chance to take on a new challenge, or something else – employers can both motivate their team and offer something which is vital to their satisfaction by providing these developmental opportunities. The chance to learn something new will engage employees and chances are good that they will be grateful for the opportunity.
Freedom and flexibility can be amazing incentives for employees. Treating employees like adults is more than a reward, it is a sign that their hard work has earned them your trust and respect. Whether you have formal flexible work arrangements in place, which allow employees to work remotely, or you simply make a conscious effort not to micro-manage, giving employees freedom can incentivize them to work hard in order to keep it.
The bottom line is that, while bonuses and merit increases can certainly be motivating, the best incentives tend to be a bit less tangible. Some extra cash is nice, but earning the chance to be recognized for hard work, to grow in their careers, or to enjoy a little flexibility will be far more meaningful for employees in the long run.