Reward Your Workers! Employee Incentives For Small Businesses

By: Emily Klaus | Marketing Associate

As a small business owner, you have a few key factors without which your business could not run. If you have a restaurant, it’s probably a walk-in fridge or a big gas-powered range. If you’re in the trucking business, it’s your rig or fleet of rigs. However, there’s one important piece of the small business puzzle that never changes, no matter the industry: your employees!

Your employees are one of the most crucial aspects of your day-to-day operations. From putting in long hours to dealing with difficult customers, they deserve a reward every now and then. We’ve put together a short list of small business employee incentive programs and optional benefits to help you keep your employees feeling appreciated and loved.

Flex Time and Work-From-Home Days

Not everyone is a morning person, which can make it hard for your salaried employees to roll out of bed to be at work at 8 a.m. on the dot.Consider giving your salaried employees a flex-time option, where they can show up anytime between certain hours, i.e. 7 a.m. - 10 a.m., as long as they still get in a full eight hours per day.

In addition to flex time, another valuable incentive is to give your employees the option to work from home. This option could be based on meeting certain benchmarks, sales goals or time at the company. Some people find they are more productive in a familiar and comfortable environment such as their home or favorite coffee shop, so you may find that their work becomes more relevant and efficient with this type of reward.

Small Cash Bonuses or Gift Cards

Some people are really incentivized by the thought of a Starbucks gift card or $15 cash. Try using these small but still meaningful rewards if your employees meet certain goals. If you’re a restaurant, make it a friendly competition to see who can sell the most specials in one shift. If you’re in the construction business, give a small cash reward to the managers that come in under budget on a project. Be sure you clearly communicate the rules of the little competition and that the goals are attainable.

If your employees are more incentivized by experiences rather than cash, try finding discounted movie tickets, museum passes or festival tickets in your local area and use these as rewards instead. Some areas, like NYC and the state of Arizona, even have “culture cards” where you can buy a pass and get free admission for one or two people into local museums, attractions and more!

Shout Outs

Rewards don’t need to be large to be meaningful! Something as simple as an email shout out or a genuine note written on the whiteboard in the break room can make the recipient’s day. As a small business owner or manager, you should be noticing your employees who are making great improvements, consistently driving sales, or exhibiting stellar customer service, so try recognizing at least one or two of these accomplishments each week! Your employees will look forward to celebrating their success and that of their coworkers. Plus, it can motivate any underperforming employees to step up their game in the hopes of being publicly recognized, which can only benefit the success of the team and the business as a whole!

All in all, when choosing the best way to reward and incentivize your employees, make sure you keep in mind their job requirements and personal lifestyle. It wouldn’t make sense to give your door greeter work-from-home privileges, be sure you have multiple types of rewards to give to your different types of employees.

In addition, make sure you really plan out your rewards and incentive systems. Clearly, communicate the objectives and criteria needed to receive the rewards and be sure that the team of people who designate the rewarded employees are from many different areas of your small business. This will help ensure there are no questions as to how someone was recognized and should help decrease any favoritism.


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