Do Employee Bonuses Really Provide The Best Incentive?

When you want to let your employees know they’ve done something well, is a bonus really the best incentive you can offer? There are so many ways that you can let your employees know they’re valued, and it’s not always easy to determine which will make the strongest statement.

Some employers see a monetary bonus are the best way to reward and motivate employees. But others believe that monetary benefits aren’t as important as non-monetary rewards. The reality is that all of these can both be effective paths to incentivizing your employees for working hard and doing their job well.

At the end of the day, most employees will find the potential for additional money to be very motivating. Below are some tips on how to leverage bonuses as an inventive that will work for your business.

Leverage the element of surprise

With any incentive, a great way to keep your employees motivated and engaged is to surprise them. Instead of offering a cash bonus for specific tasks, or at specific times of the year, keep your employees on their toes: offer a “spot bonus” as an impromptu way to say thanks. When your staff doesn’t know how or when to expect a bonus, it won’t become routine - and that means they’ll be more surprised and more motivated by these bonuses when they do happen. In addition, your other team members may see a surprise “spot bonus” as an opportunity to step up their game and earn their own bonus.

Think big and small

Many employers make the mistake of writing off bonuses as part of an incentive program because they assume they’ll be expensive. But they don’t have to be. Bonuses can be done in ways that work for your budget.

First, keep in mind there’s no set expectation for a bonus, since it’s above and beyond regular pay. Even a small amount of money shows your employees that you appreciate their hard work. Also, think about options beyond a straight bonus check. Can you offer a bonus in the form of profit-sharing or a bigger discount on merchandise? The flexibility of these options may help you better fit bonuses into your organization.

Reward unexpected behaviors

One other thing to keep employees motivated when it comes to bonuses is to consider rewarding behaviors outside the typical. Most employers offer bonuses based on very specific quotas, goals, or time frames. This approach works well, but there are also opportunities to reward your employees for tasks that are important to your business, but that aren’t as high profile or conventional. For example, giving one of your employees a bonus for being an exemplary team player will show that you value the intangible pieces of their work, too.

Develop a varied incentive plan

There are so many creative ways to provide incentives to your employees. Most importantly, you should offer lots of different incentives, in different ways, throughout the year. In our previous post on rewarding employees without using money, we covered how to use things like recognition, titles, and learning opportunities as ways to motivate employees and to show them that you value their work.

As we’ve covered, many factors play into deciding which incentives will be best for your staff. From personality types to budget considerations to the specifics around the tasks performed, every situation is different and calls for a different approach. As you consider your options, keep in mind that employee bonuses can be a great way to provide incentives.