What is employee engagement?

Dictionary says that engagement is the act of being involved and interested in something. When it comes to the workplace, employee engagement is the practice of working with committed employees who don’t do their work just because they are paid for it but because they are invested in it completely.

This sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t like to work with such employees? However, as much as your organization might love such commitment and engagement, the question is whether you are taking the right efforts to foster positive engagement.

Employee investment programs are one of the popular ways to improve employee engagement. Read on to know more about them. But first let’s explore what employee disengagement can do.

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How dangerous is disengagement at the workplace?

Disengagement is a term that is downright dangerous to organizations as a whole. While disengagement can be very subtle and difficult to recognize, it can lead to clear problems, including low morale, high attrition, and low productivity.

Here are some statistics about disengagement you should be aware of.

  • Employee disengagement, overall, costs companies close to $450 billion a year!
  • Gallup is a Management Consultancy brand and in one of its Global Workplace Report, states that only 15% of employees are actively engaged. 85% of them are either not actively engaged, or worse, disengaged with what they do.
  • A challenging workplace is one of the top employee incentives for staying engaged. Another study states that 33% of employees leave their current job to look for better challenges.

So, how to boost employee engagement? Incentive programs might help.

What are employee incentive programs and how do they help improve engagement?

Now that we have discussed enough about employee disengagement and its effects, we will get back to fostering engagement.

Employee incentive programs are designed to retain the right talent and keep them invested and content with the work they do. Employee rewards programs are the most known and popular of these incentive programs. There are so many more types though! Here is a list of the top incentive programs for employees that will make a clear difference to engagement levels.

12 top employee incentive programs

1. Rewards and recognition

Without a doubt, rewards and incentives for employees are great motivators for employees to stay engaged at their work. Rewards are traditional incentives, but they continue to work well. In fact, according to a popular survey, 69% of employees still consider rewards a great incentive to improve engagement levels.

All organizations have R&R programs these days. However, you can make them more effective by investing in the right tools and technology.

PossibleWorks offers the best-in-class R&R tools that help create an environment of peer endorsements, timely recognition, gamification, and virtual recognition walls.

2. Learning and Development programs

L&D programs are not just ways to improve skills but can also work as one of the very effective employee incentive programs. These days, employees are as invested in their professional development as in monetary incentives.

That is why well-designed L&D programs may hold their interest and get them to stick to their jobs for a longer time. Start by understanding what kind of training and learning solutions your employees expect and offer them the same as incentives. Such L&D programs can be costly to afford individually, so your employees will appreciate the effort.

3. Health and Wellness investments

Health and wellness programs have never been more important than now! The pandemic has taught people that health and wellness matter more than any monetary benefit that they may get.

Hence, as a company, you need to invest in the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of your employees to keep them happy, engaged, and productive.

A post-pandemic survey conducted by Mercer says that employee wellbeing is fundamental requirement right now. 87% of organizations in 2021 started considering this their number one priority to improve employee engagement and experience.

You can read the complete gist of this survey here.

4. Flexibility at work

You may be surprised, but offering flexibility is one of the most effective employee incentive programs that are also easy to implement. It can be the flexibility to choose the right projects or pick up work timings of their choice. It could also mean letting employees work from anywhere they want without restrictions.

Flexibility encourages creativity and independence, and these keep employees engaged.

5. Trust

Can you offer intangible benefits as a part of employee incentive programs? Absolutely yes. Building a climate of trust will help build a bond that will create organic engagement levels at the workplace. Here are some facts about employee trust for you.

  • A feeling of trust improves oxytocin production in the body. This hormone creates happiness and satisfaction, leading to better engagement levels.
  • In companies that foster trust, people report 76% lesser stress, 50% higher productivity, 76% better engagement, and 106% more energy levels.

6. Profit-sharing

Profit-sharing is a potent tool in the list of employee incentive programs. After all, your employees are the ones who put in tremendous effort to grow your organization’s profits. That’s why it makes sense to include them in the profits that your company makes.

Profit-sharing is one of the incentives for employees that can instantly cause euphoria in the hearts of those who contribute to the growth. Profit-sharing can be in the form of:

  • Instant bonuses
  • Company shares and stocks
  • Extra contribution to the pension/retirement funds

7. Gifts and rewards

Fun gifts show that you care, which is a great incentive to keep your employees engaged. Almost all organizations have some gift/reward system in place. What matters is how you choose these gifts and how they are given out.

In the list of incentives for employees, make sure you include fun, personalized gifts that you can pass on during important days like anniversaries and holidays.

Such gifts need not be expensive affairs. A gift card, a handwritten note, and small snacks are good options, depending on the situation.

Now, below is a list of creative rewards that your employees will definitely love getting.

  • Personalized tech accessories
  • Spa days
  • Sports tickets
  • Easy parking spots

Here is a list of 21 amazing rewards and recognition programs you can try out. Check them out right away!

8. Time offs

Spending time with family is something all employees have started looking forward to these days. In fact, 58% of employees agree that they would be alright with a slight pay cut if it offers them more time off.

So, it is no surprise that this will be one of those incentives for employees that will be a great hit. How can you give time offs?

  • Announce in advance that employees can leave post lunch on a particular Friday
  • Give a day off before or after holidays and weekends so employees can enjoy extended time-offs

9. Casual dress days

You may be surprised but employees actually love casual dress days, especially if your organization follows a strict business attire policy. You can set aside one or two days a month for casual dressing and see how much your employees look forward to it.

10. Dinner/Lunch with the CXOs

How is this a part of employee incentive programs, you may ask? In organizations with several hierarchal levels, it is not very easy meeting the CXO team. A lot of employees consider this a matter of pride, especially if the CXOs are known names in the industry.

Once a year, as a part of the incentives you offer to high achievers, you can arrange a dinner/lunch session with the top management. This is a great motivator that will push the rest of the employees to do better and get this chance next time around.

11. A comfortable and inclusive office ambience

This is another one of those employee incentive programs that will definitely be a hit. Some offices have massage chairs and spa rooms while others invest in great game rooms. Some offices have resting spots where you can go for a quick shut eye. A prayer room for those who pray at a specific time every day is a great idea too. All these can help make your employees feel cherished and valued. These, as a result, will help improve engagement rates too.

12. Instant recognition

There is a saying that goes like this – “praise instantly and criticize with caution”. When you want to recognize an employee for even the smallest of behavior, it needs to be done instantly. Otherwise, the moment will be lost.

Practicing instant recognition by itself is one of the successes of employee incentive programs. Along with all these other strategies, practice instant recognition to improve the effectiveness.

Invest in tools that make instant recognition easy. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for a manager or a peer to recognize someone on a particular platform. This will encourage people to start recognizing and endorsing each other’s efforts more often and create a culture of appreciation.

Employee Incentive Programs – Best Strategies

  1. Make sure your program is inclusive, and all your employees are able to benefit from it.
  2. It is a smart move to make use of technology when you design your employee incentive programs. Technology makes such processes more accessible, quicker, and more effective.
  3. Do not forget to ask your employees about their choice of incentives before you design elaborate employee incentive programs.
  4. Do not forget to talk about the programs. In the initial period, keep sending emails and flyers, mention these programs in meetings, and do all you can to get employees familiar and excited.
  5. Personalize your incentives, so they are more valuable. Experts suggest using AI tools to customize incentives, so they add more value.


Employee incentive programs are, no doubt, critical for managing employee engagement levels at work. An engaged employee is more independent, creative, and invested, and all this, will make a difference to your company’s productivity levels and growth.

If you have not focused much on your employee rewards programs, it is definitely time to change. Lack of engagement is like a weed that can grow quickly and rapidly, bringing down everything positive with it. Hence, identifying and uprooting the weed early on is very important. The employee incentive programs discussed above can help subdue negativity and promote better employee engagement and experience.

Get in touch with PossibleWorks to know how to redesign your existing incentive programs for employees. Our sophisticated tool understands your needs and creates strategies that work like a charm. In fact, our R&R tools are used by brands like Future Group, Kohler, Mahindra, and SREI. So, get on board today.

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