10 Innovative Employee Incentive Ideas for Business Retention & Expansion


Looking for Employee Incentive Ideas to retain and expand your business? Check out these 10 employee incentive ideas that can help boost morale, increase productivity, and retain top talent in your organization. From flexible schedules to wellness programs, these incentives are sure to keep your employees engaged and motivated.

The core of any employee retention or incentive idea is employee recognition. 

It’s surprising to note that 44% of employees feel under-recognized for their efforts. 

Thus, lack of employee recognition is the prominent reason for an employee leaving a job. It’s evident that companies need to strive to know the grass root reasons for employees leaving, to find the exact pain point of each employee and figure out a way to resolve it. 

When a company transforms from a small-sized team to becoming a full-fledged company, the challenge then becomes to retain existing employees while also focusing on quality hires. Companies that strike this balance well, flourish. 

You'll find all that you need for your business to expand in this article. Employee retention is undoubtedly one way of business expansion, among many others. However, before diving into it, let's quickly look at a few other ways to expand your business. 

5 ways to scale your business

Like any other investment, you need to give time, effort, and patience even to your business for it to grow. Planning and executing strategies that benefit your business in the long term is crucial.

This happens when you genuinely care about your customers and your business's associates. Also, business expansion is a by-product of ample consumer trust

Below mentioned are five ways to do so. 

1. Build strategic partnerships

Building connections with the right companies makes a world of difference in the business world. It not only allows you to reach a broader customer base but also helps you sustain for a long time. Reach out to companies that are complementary to your own and see if you can propose opportunities for working together. 

2. Diversify your offers 

Diversifying your offers is critical when you’re an already existing business aiming to grow. What complementary services or products can your company offer? Examine and identify new pain points of your customers and come up with products that hit those pain points. 

3. Leverage global platforms 

Depending on your business domain, this could vary. Find out the platforms that have reached saturation and use those platforms to expand your business. For example, explore platforms such as Airbnb if you’re into hotels and vacation rental property business. 

4. Generate multiple income streams

Expanding a business is not a cakewalk, especially when dealing with wafer-thin margins. Here’s when you need to build passive income streams, as they’ll allow you to take risks and falter when making business decisions. 

5. Acquire smaller businesses 

One of the quickest ways to build connections and expand your business is to acquire other companies. Find competitors or businesses complementary to your own within or outside your industry to find hidden opportunities and increase your branding. 

These are a few ways to expand your business. However, the crux of all companies is their employees. Now that you know of ways to grow your business, we enlist ten creative employee incentive ideas for your business to sustain.

10 Innovative employee incentive ideas for business retention and expansion 

Employee Incentive Ideas

All companies have different ways to incentivize their employees. Some may offer an extra-long lunch break or let the employees leave from office for lunch. The ideas will vary depending on the type of culture you want to cultivate. 

Below are ten generic employee incentive ideas for business retention and expansion. So let’s take a look at them. 

1. Invest time to devise employee recognition ideas 

Recognizing employees, in turn, improves employee productivity and job satisfaction. 

Employee recognition is thus essential. 

Before we move to generic employee incentive ideas, you need to invest time into devising employee recognition ideas. Awards are the most prominent way to incentivize employees for their brilliant performance.

However, recognition awards are not just tied to employee performance. Implementing an award schedule is merely a part of a comprehensive reward management strategy. 

  • Give driving success awards like the sales hero, star performer, etc. 
  • Get innovative with awards by introducing awards like the future thinker, bright spark award, intrapreneur award, etc
  • Recognize leaders by giving mentoring champion awards 
  • identify new hires by awarding exceptional hires

Don’t make employee recognition so conventional that instead of inspiring and celebrating their success, it bores them. Getting creative with such awards is essential to make it just another event. Invest time explicitly in brainstorming ways to bring innovation, discuss the same with upper management, and even talk to employees if needed. 

Simply asking the employee what they think is a great incentive will solve your problem. They could suggest something relatively cheap or something for free; it’d be best to ask them so. You can bid goodbye to the guessing game, scratching your head, and get the answer!

2. Implement a parking lot management software

As per a report, employees spend an average of 90.5 hours a year finding a parking lot. The stat itself speaks a lot about the time spent finding a parking spot.

Imagine an employee getting all worked up because they couldn’t find a parking spot. It leaves them stressed and frustrated before they even begin to work. 

Smooth parking facilities directly impact employee productivity. When you have a functional parking system with sufficient parking spots, employees won’t have to spend much time finding a parking spot before getting to work. Hence, parking lot management software is crucial for a company. 

A few benefits of implementing parking management software are: 

  • No investment in a resource to manage parking issues 
  • Streamlines most recurring parking-related problems 
  • Saves time, eventually increasing employee productivity 
  • Control all aspects of parking remotely 

Different companies have different problems related to parking. So parking management solutions would differ based on the requirements. For small businesses, focusing on expanding parking spots is more important than managing them. While for growing businesses, management becomes important. 

Parking management software is vital for companies that are willing to expand. Look out for potential or existing problems in your current parking management to find the right parking management solution that works for your company.  

If you have a team of employees who struggle with commuting to work every day, consider a subsidy to appreciate the team’s efforts.

Offer the employees free bus or train tickets for a month or free drop-and-pick commute services to high-performing employees. A subsidized commute plan gives financial relief and solves workplace parking issues. 

3. Invest in the employees’ professional growth

While monetary rewards are one form of employee incentive, employees today, especially millennials, value professional growth.

87% of employees stated that development is essential to them. Investing in your employee’s professional journey benefits them, and they stick around for the long haul. 

Investing in your employee’s professional growth is a win-win. It benefits your company as they will use the new knowledge and experiences that employees have to share, which enables more internal promotion opportunities. Moreover, they learn new skills and apply in their work which automatically improves the efficiency of the work done. 

Below-listed are a few ways to enhance employee’s professional growth: 

  • Conduct training workshops at regular intervals 
  • Invite guest speakers from time to time 
  • Keep internal discussions on new concepts at regular intervals 

It’s not necessary to always invite a professional. Keep weekly or biweekly discussions among team members wherein they share their learnings and discuss them.

Keep conducting such engaging workshops and training sessions to keep your employees thinking on their feet and be associated with your company. 

Investing in your employee’s professional growth builds your company’s recognition, and employees will like doing their job more with the new skillset. When employees like doing their work, they’re more likely to stay. Also, such learning sessions make it easier to prepare future managers. 

4. Consider offering partnerships to high-performing employees  

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When you’re a start-up or a small business, profit sharing is an effective employee monetary reward. Your business might not have a healthy cash flow as yet. So offering an employee to be a business partner means the business shares some of its revenue with its performing employees when it starts generating good revenue. 

You can offer bonuses to employees; however, offering a certain percentage of the business revenue to employees as a reward makes them inclusive.

Moreover, these employees inspire others as they see how their efforts are appreciated and work harder. Festive and yearly bonuses are excellent; however, making an employee a business partner has amplified positive impact. 

Profit sharing with employees, however, won’t suit all companies. In such cases, use retirement benefits as employee incentives.

Another way to offer annual bonuses to employees is to cut a specific amount of their salaries every month and give the cumulative amount to the employees at the end of the year. The amount will be a certain percentage of the employee’s income.

5. Organize functions annually 

Monthly and quarterly rewards are certainly an excellent way to reward employees. However, company-wide year-end functions are even better for rewarding employees for their accomplishments annually.

You could arrange a weekend getaway, team activities or tours, or even celebrate their growth with Christmas parties. 

When you’re working remotely, your virtual team can also celebrate their annual achievements with a virtual happy hour through Zoom. These events support employees in improving their bonds, enhancing their work relationships, and communicating better. Employers should publicly acknowledge the exceptional performance during these events. 

A few ways to recognize employees in annual events could be: 

  • Give certificates of excellence to high-performing employees 
  • Give trophies to deserving employees 
  • Offer a coupon or a voucher for a professional course 
  • Offer discount on courses 
  • Offer scholarships for higher studies 

It’s best to discuss how you want to reward your employees with the management. Since such events are organized once a year, ensure to keep them light, fun and rewarding for the employees. Inviting special guests to reward the employees is also a respectful way to celebrate their success. 

Invite the family members of the employee to the event. This makes them feel even more valued. 

6. Allow pets to workplace 

Pets are known to reduce the stress levels of human beings. Whether you have a pet at your home or the workplace, they are a good source of dopamine and add an element of playfulness to our lives. A US National Library Medicine study shows that allowing pets into the workplace can significantly reduce employee stress levels. 

Allowing certain employees to bring their pets to the workplace is a great way to reward them. You could allow them to bring their pets for a day or organize a local adoption center to enable their dogs to come to your company for a day. 

Besides reducing stress levels, below are a few other benefits of incentivizing employees this way. 

A. Significant increase in physical activity 

Having pets at the office automatically encourages employees to leave the desk to take their pets outside to feed them. 

B. Enhanced relationships 

Pets could be a common ground to talk about for employees who might not know each other. They could be an excellent icebreaker for employees. 

C. Increase in flexibility 

Pet owners who worry about their pets and rush home can now spend some extra time at the office and finish their work. 

When an employee gets the liberty to bring their pets to the office, other employees get inspired to work harder. Plus, pets make the workplace more fun and lively. Such incentives are more than just monetary. They instil a sense of belonging and happiness among the employees. 

7. Give employees the right to choose projects 

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Trust is a two-way street.

Giving high-performing employees the right to choose their projects is a fantastic way to incentivize them. Many companies struggle with building trust with their employees.

Allowing employees to decide which projects they want to work on fosters trust among the team members and between the employee and their managers. 

When an employee has the right to choose projects, they feel valued. This eventually fosters an environment of trust. This simple action shows that you support your employees, and they will likely support the organization by going the extra mile and delivering exceptional outcomes each time.

Ensure to keep the following points in mind: 

  • The project options you offer should be tailored to each employee. 
  • The project should appeal to an employee, or else they wouldn’t do it with utmost sincerity. 
  • Communicate the short-term and long-term goals of the project with the employee. 
  • Keep discussing employees’ career interests frequently to give them projects that align with their interests. 

Give this freedom to employees who have worked with you for a long time and are good at their jobs. Doing so will positively inspire others to work more efficiently.

However, don’t restrict this leverage only to exceptional employees. The ones who are consistent with their work should also benefit from having this choice. 

You can even allow performing team members to delegate tasks they may not prefer to work. This is another way to give them choice on tasks they’d pick and tasks they’d rather pass on to other employees.

Allow top performing employees to have the first pick in project selection. Moreover, such practices help your branding as your business stands out from the rest. 

8. Offer additional time-off and vacations 

As cliche as this incentive idea sounds, it remains one of the most preferred ways for employee recognition.

Taking care of your employee includes caring for their mental and physical health. Offering additional time off and encouraging them to take short trips once in a while relaxes their mind and boosts their mental health. 

To begin with, ensure to keep your leave policy lenient. The leave policy shouldn’t feel like the employee’s handcuffed by the company, and they fear applying for leaves. Moreover, giving sufficient paid time off gives employees time to unclench and keep a healthy work-life balance.

Key benefits of offering time off and vacations to employees are: 

  • Boosts physical and mental well-being 
  • Motivated workforce 
  • Less chances of burnout 
  • Increase in employee retention 
  • Massive improvement in employee productivity 

Encouraging employees to take their paid time off will benefit your company in the long run. Trips or vacations tend to relax an employee, which increases their productivity.

You can even reward high-performing employees with gift cards that send them to different vacation destinations. 

You can implement three to five off days based on the employee's performance metrics. Offering employees a trip for a well-done job is also a fantastic way to incentivize them. However, ensure you have enough staff to cover work when one or several employees take time off. They shouldn't be overburdened with work in the absence of employees. 

9. Offer free meals or subscriptions 

How about feeding your employees’ binge-watching habits for a few months? Reward them with a few months of Netflix or other Ott channel subscription. 

You can even offer a free meal coupon for a week/month and take away the burden of cooking for some time. Bring vendors to give meals ready to take home or pay for a meal delivery service. These little perks, like free lunches, dinners, and desserts, significantly impact how the employees feel about their company. 

Along with employee productivity, offering such subscriptions also benefit in the following ways: 

  • It builds your company culture 
  • Top talent, especially the Gen Z and millennials are interested in working with you 
  • Supports creativity 
  • Helps retain existing employees 

It’s not necessary to only offer subscriptions. You can even encourage employees to pursue their hobbies. Let them list their favorite pastime activities or hobbies and surprise them with paid classes. This can include singing classes, DJ classes, basketball classes, drumming classes, literature classes, etc. 

Remember, an employee who feels valued and cared for performs better. So try to dig out the everyday mundane problems that make your employees feel on edge and resolve them. Solving such minor issues, in the long run, is an employee incentive as it helps them perform better. 

10. Offer cooking lessons or laundry services

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Give your employees some fun and yummy time by arranging cooking lessons either for your employee or a small team. Learning something new together not only helps in building new skills but also improves the bond.

Moreover, cooking is a survival skill that everyone should know. Organizing such lessons time and again will boost fun and productivity. 

Another way to incentivize employees is to set them up with a laundry service. They’ll get a pick-up/drop-off laundry at their home, which will help them restore work-life balance to their lives. Another way to incentivize employees is to offer them gifts. Gifts go a long way in motivating them. However, ensure to come up with practical gift items. 

The following gift ideas could help:

Coffee makers or coffee machines for homes 

Sports gear like exercise balls, yoga mats and sport shoes for running 

  • Give them tech supplies like headphones, tablets, and portable chargers 
  • Seasonal essentials depending on the season 
  • Frequent treats like cakes and chocolate boxes 

Brainstorm on items that employees can use in their professional and personal lives. 

Lastly, it’s best to ask the employees what they like. This one’s no rocket science.

Simply asking the employee what they think is a great incentive will solve your problem. They could suggest something relatively cheap or something for free; it’d be best to ask them so. You can bid goodbye to the guessing game, scratching your head, and get the answer!

Make meaningful employee incentives 

The article talks about ways of business retention and employee incentive ideas. Try using one or several of these, depending on your requirements. Know what’s lacking in your currency employee engagement strategy or how you can improve it, and pick some ideas or devise your own. 

After all, only a company has the power to cultivate a culture and identify the aspects that get in the way of facilitating this culture.

Taking employee surveys is also a great way to dig deeper into employee incentive ideas. When you take from your employees what they expect, devising employee-related strategies gets easier. 

Remember to put forth the employee’s needs, and the results will follow. 

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