Creative Non-Monetary Ways to Motivate Your Employees

By Jenny Barnes on Aug 23, 2023
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You pay your folks a competitive salary, provide them access to great benefits, and are flexible when they need time off. When your culture and compensation package is already excellent, is there a way, other than cash bonuses, to incentivize employees to achieve?

There is—and they can be just as effective (and just as appreciated) as money. Enter non-monetary incentive programs—a powerful tool for enhancing employee engagement and driving performance in the key areas you want to target. 

In this post, I’ll cover the benefits of implementing a non-monetary incentive structure, whether as a complement to or a replacement for cash bonuses and commission structures. I’ll also divulge some of the most creative and effective types of non-monetary incentives I’ve come across while working with the best small to mid-sized businesses in the area. Incorporate these ideas into your employee relations strategy and watch your engagement soar. 

employee compensation plan

Why You Should Consider a Non-Monetary Incentive Structure

Monetary incentives have their place in an employer-employee relationship. They remain particularly effective for driving a specific and measurable monetary goal. But there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t be the only reward system you implement at work.

Consider the following: 

  • Non-monetary incentives feel like an added boost 

    Because of the nature of cash, employees may think of monetary bonuses almost as if they were part of their salary. They may come to expect bonuses for a job well done, which is fine if they’re part of a clearly delineated bonus plan or commission structure. The flip side, however, is that cash bonuses can start to lose their value as a “thank you” from the company. Non-monetary incentives, on the other hand, can be personalized to the individual employee and make them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. 
  • Non-monetary incentives contribute to your company’s overall positive culture

    As described above, non-monetary incentives often feel more like a gesture of gratefulness than earned pay. In turn, they help to support feelings of mutual loyalty and respect in the employer-employee relationship, giving your company culture a positive boost. 
  • Avoid the legal implications of promising employees cash bonuses 

    Did you know that in some states, based on the details of your bonus plan and other factors, monetary performance bonuses can become mandatory?  It’s true—if you set forth a cash bonus structure that seems more akin to commission, it could be interpreted as “money earned” (and owed) by courts, making bonus payments compulsory if an employee achieves their set goal. Non-monetary incentives, on the other hand, are a more careful way to protect the provision of a non-salary reward as a tool of encouragement to be used in the company’s discretion. While it’s not the only consideration, it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re much less likely to face a contractual dispute over a non-monetary incentive. 
  • It can be more effective in driving positive employee behaviors

    Cash bonuses make plenty of sense in many situations, like sales incentives or as a profit-sharing tool. But non-monetary incentives are a way to reward behaviors that are tied to profits in a more indirect way, including behaviors that lead to customer satisfaction, learning and development, creativity, teamwork, and other actions that show that an employee is going above and beyond. 

RELATED:Building an Effective Compensation Strategy in Uncertain Times >>

Creative Non-Monetary Incentive Ideas to Implement at Work

Are you ready to implement a non-monetary incentive structure, but unsure of what your employees will actually want? Here are some of the most widely appreciated (and motivational) items or benefits you can provide your employees as an incentive: 

  • Volunteer time off 

    Rewarding employees with paid time off from work to volunteer is a great way to support your company’s cultural values and encourage giving back. 

    volunteer time off
  • Experiences 

    Experiences can be more memorable than cash bonuses. Experiential rewards can be personalized to your company’s budget and can range from a pair of tickets to a local sporting event to a weekend vacation. 
  • Company merchandise

    Useful branded merchandise can help employees feel like they’re part of the team. 
  • Meals and treats 

    What better way to say thank you than with a free lunch? 
  • Flexibility and autonomy

    If feasible for your industry and your employees’ roles, offering work-from-home days or flexible hours are a fantastic way to communicate appreciation and trust. 
  • Shout-outs and praise

    Some employees appreciate being thanked publicly, and when done the right way, a shout-out can make an employee feel like a valued member of the business. Company-wide praise can also add to an overall culture of recognition. 
  • Personalized incentives 

    Personalized rewards (like PTO for a birthday or family event, the opportunity to develop a unique skill or gifts related to an employee’s interests, hobbies, or home life) can be a very effective way to deliver a heartfelt “thank you.” 

RELATED:Employee Absenteeism: How to Encourage Attendance 

Meet Axcet HR Solutions: Your Partner in Designing a Comprehensive Employee Relations Strategy 

Your business has goals to achieve, and choosing the right incentive structure is just one way to get those goals accomplished. When it comes to crafting an employee relations strategy that delivers real ROI, the experienced consultants at Axcet HR Solutions have the know-how to guide you toward success. With Axcet, you’ve found a partner for the journey toward achieving your business goals and creating a workplace that thrives. 

From HR compliance and workplace safety to recruitment and retention, Axcet is your certified professional employer organization (and your HR partner). Let us take care of the HR details, so you can focus on growing and scaling your core business. Interested in learning more about Axcet can help? Schedule a conversation with our experienced consultants today. 

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Written by Jenny Barnes

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