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Top 5 ways to incentivize your employees

Maybe you’ve noticed a slump in your employees’ productivity lately. You’re not alone. According to Gallup, U.S. employee engagement has slipped for the first time in a decade. The drop in employee engagement isn’t surprising given the tumult of the past few years.

But disengaged employees are costly for your business. A study by The Engagement Institute found that disengaged employees cost companies about $550 billion per year. On the other hand, engaged employees boost a company in countless ways. Gallup reports that companies with highly engaged employees have less absenteeism, higher productivity, and greater profits.

Homing in on the top ways to incentivize your employees is key to increasing engagement.

A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way

Perhaps the least costly employee incentive is also one of the most effective. Recognizing your employees for small wins, as well as the big wins, is a top indicator of engagement. Yet most employers only applaud the touchdowns and not the first downs that propelled the company to the goal.

Gallup phrases the question on their Q12 Employee Engagement Questionnaire as “In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?”

That means you need to create a daily habit of showing appreciation to your employees. You can effectively do this with a company-wide email, through a callout on social media or a handwritten note. The key is to let employees know that you see them when they do the job well.

Creative and Fun Incentives for Achieving Measurable Goals

Whether you’re looking to increase upsells or improve first call resolution scores, creative and fun incentives can get the whole team excited to achieve measurable goals. You can create a contest to improve a measurable metric. And the team or individual that wins can enjoy a unique prize.

The key to company contests is to emphasize fun while keeping the competition light. You want to avoid creating an excessively competitive culture that will increase everyone’s stress. Also, recognize the chief difference between contests and recognition. While contests are fun, recognition is heartfelt.

You can send the winning team to a company-sponsored outing or adventure, such as a day at the spa or horseback riding. You can even hire a service to do their laundry or cook their dinners for a week. Or partner with a shelter to bring puppies to the office to relieve the stress of achieving the hard-won goal.

Companies like The Sullivan Travel Company specialize in incentive travel, and are market leaders when it comes to memorable travel options.

The possibilities for fun and creative employee incentives are limitless.

Increase Teamwork with Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Create a recognition system in which employees can recognize their coworkers for their good deeds. Knowing that everyone is doing their part is important for employee engagement. One of Gallup’s engagement survey questions is “Are your fellow employees committed to doing quality work.”

You can help everyone on the team do their part with a peer-to-peer recognition system. Your system can be as low tech as creating space at the beginning of meetings for employees to voice appreciation for their coworkers’ deeds. Or you can try one of the many apps available that allow employees to award points to their colleagues.

Award Mini-Scholarships for Continuing Education

Lack of career development remains the top reason employees leave their jobs, even after the disruptions of the pandemic, according to the Work Institute’s 2021 Retention Report. Continuing education, in the form of certificates or seminars, is especially important to Millennials.

Reward your top performers with learning and upskilling opportunities. The key to using learning opportunities as incentives is creating a measurable and transparent system by which you award the mini-scholarships. Consider also awarding opportunities that are not work-related. Increasingly, employees appreciate employers who recognize them as a full person, rather than just an employee.

Ensure You’re Not Punishing Your Top Performers

Nothing will kill incentive faster than dumping more work on your star performers without increasing compensation. While leaders yearn for star performers across the board, in reality one or two rise to the top. It’s easy to give that star employee a bigger workload so the team can meet their goals.

If your data and analytics reveals that one or two people are shouldering an unfair amount of work, make it right by balancing the load and holding underperforming team members accountable. Additionally, make sure your compensation package reflects your employees’ performance. While the best employers incorporate a variety of incentives, pay scales remain an effective way to reward performance.

Final Thoughts

Employers and employees alike have weathered a maelstrom over the past few years. Understandably, employee motivation and engagement dropped slightly. As you work to use incentives to increase your employees’ productivity, be mindful of the circumstances.


Use heartfelt recognition and fun incentives to get things back on track. Give employees a chance to say thanks to their colleagues through a peer-to-peer recognition system. And recognize each employee as a whole person by providing development opportunities. Finally, make sure your star performers are adequately compensated for their extra effort while ensuring they’re not shouldering an undue amount of work.


If you would like to learn more about how you can create a team of CX rockstars,contact Insight BPO today.

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