Rewarding Your Employees: 15 Examples of Successful Incentives in The Corporate World

The most important asset to any company is its people.   Keeping your employees happy in the workplace can make your company a stronger, unwavering force within your industry. We took a look at what companies ranked in “Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For List” are doing to retain their employees and found several fantastic ideas.  While some of these examples are a little extreme and might not fit into your budget, we want you to be inspired and remember that every individual wants to be recognized for their good work.

Incentives go beyond the standard benefits program & 401K.  We’re talking about creating the best atmosphere for employee retention.  You need more than just financial rewards. “Pay raises are generally effective for three months,” says Richard Bead, vice-president of human resources for Telus Corp; without further incentives, the motivation fizzles. While rewarding an employee with money is effective; money, once spent, can be forgotten.  And not everyone is motivated by money, so non-financial rewards can be important alternatives.

If you’re having a difficult time with employee retention, take a look at what these companies are doing to reward their executives for their hard work.  We particularly like #4!

1. Taking Care Of The Family:

Google – Surely you’ve heard all about Google’s outdoor sports facilities, free food and more, but there’s another perk that should be noted. If a U.S. employee passes away while working for the tech giant, the employee’s spouse or domestic partner receives 50% of the deceased’s salary, no matter how long or short his tenure, every year for the next decade.

2. Giving Free Vacations:

This is one thing that we noticed to be a trend throughout the top 100 companies list.  For example, Ultimate Software, the developer of people-management software such as Quicken Loans treats workers to a free vacation every two years.

3. Big Money Incentives:

Hilcorp Energy Company promised staff in 2010 that if the company doubles its production rate and reserves by 2015, every employee will get a check for $100,000.  An earlier met goal rewarded 400 employees with $50,000 toward a new car.

4. Saying Thank You!:

Often times, employees just want to be recognized for their good work.  A simple “Good Job” from the CEO can go a long way.  Employees at NetApp  often get a chance to receive special recognition. Vice Chairman Tom Mendoza asks managers to notify him when they “catch someone doing something right,” and then calls 10 to 20 employees every day to thank them.

5. Rewarding Safety:

Chesapeake Energy paid out more than $8 million in “safety bonuses” in 2011 to more than 6,000 employees across the company for following safe work practices.

6. Keeping Employees Healthy:

At JM Family Enterprises, health and wellness centers staffed by doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals now function at eight locations of this Toyota distributor, providing primary care, wellness exams, complete physicals, vaccines, and lab tests at little to no cost to employees.

7. On-Site Personal Massages & Mental Health Resources:

Employees at Mayo Clinic can get massages while its Arizona facility’s “stress-free zone” offers resources to cope with work anxieties.

8. Having Fun At The Office:

Stryker, a medical-device manufacturer, keeps things light by offering Ping-Pong tables on-site and having “pie-your-manager” competitions.

9. Reloadable Gift Cards:

Producers Assistance Corporation, in an attempt to refresh their safety program, chose reloadable gift cards as an incentive. Here’s how it works: when an employee takes an action, like attending a safety meeting, points are loaded onto their card. The lure of point collecting (and spending) has focused employees back on doing the right thing to be safe. After a 6-month trial, participation had more than doubled and there was a significant decline in the incident rate.

10. Tuition Reimbursement:

Intel offers $50,000 for tuition reimbursementand an eight-week paid sabbatical every seven years, which 4067 employees took advantage of just last year.

11. Employee Appreciation Week:

The insurance giant Aflac hosts an annual six-day appreciation week; last year it included theme park visits, film showings, skating, and daily giveaways.

12. Immediate Vacation Time:

Hasbro, the world’s second-largest toy company, enhanced its vacation policy by giving new employees three weeks off in their first year instead of having to wait five years.

13. Profit-Sharing Plan:

Seventy-eight percent of Robert W. Baird & Co. is owned by non-senior management. All hourly and salaried associates enjoy annual profit-sharing contributions from a pool that represents 10% of Baird’s pretax net operating income.

14.  Offsite Employee Activities:

GoDaddy sets money aside every month that is used to take employees off-site for activities during paid work hours. This isn’t a once a year thing, either. They do this once a month, EVERY month. Recent GoDaddy expeditions included: whitewater rafting, gold panning, cooking classes, and trapeze classes. The employees obviously love it, and who wouldn’t?

15. The Monthly Hero:

Zappo’s has a rather unconventional “recognition” program in place. Their program is called the “Monthly Hero” program and here’s how it works. Every month, every Zappo employee is given $50 they can “give” to a coworker as a bonus and as a way of to recognize that coworker for doing a great job and being awesome. Once a month Zappo executives pick a name from the workers that were given the $50 bonus and dub him/her the “Monthly Hero.” The company then proceeds to throw a mini-parade to announce the monthly hero through a rolling sound system that’s accompanied by noise makers and playing of the song “I Need A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. If all that wasn’t amazing enough, the monthly hero then wins a covered parking spot, a $150 Zappo’s gift card, and a cape to proudly wear!

When looking at these incentives, you can’t help but realize that it takes more than just a paycheck to make a company truly great to work for. It takes a diverse blend of benefits, incentives and business practices to retain a company’s greatest asset: their employees!

(We fully understand that most companies cannot afford some of these incentives, however the creativity and drive to reward hard work needs to be appreciated.)