InStride celebrates five years of growth, innovation and social impactRead More


December 13th, 2023 · 4 min read

These are the employee incentives your workers actually want

The power of employee incentives

Types of employee incentives

  • Financial incentives such as bonuses, pay increases and profit-sharing
  • Flexible working hours and location (e.g. hybrid or remote work)
  • Education and skills development incentives, such as access to training courses, degree programs or professional certifications with partial or full-tuition coverage 
  • Employee recognition, such as awards or rewards for performance
  • Health and well-being incentives can include gym memberships or access to free or discounted childcare
  • Professional development opportunities such as a stipend to attend industry conferences  

How to uncover employee motivations

  1. Survey the competition
    Take a look at competitors with a strong employer brand. What incentives are they offering? What benefits do they have on their roster that your company may be missing? Are these benefits trending in your industry? This type of competitive insight can help you identify gaps.
  2. Go directly to the source
    It’s likely that you already send out some type of employee feedback survey. Consider including a few questions related to incentives such as, “What resources, programs or tools would help you achieve a better work/life balance?” 

Are employee incentives taxable?

3 employee incentive programs to make your company stand out

  • Tangible career advancement opportunities
    In a recent survey, 94% of employees said they would stay longer in their current role given better opportunities for advancement.

    This starts with making employees aware that opportunities for internal career mobility exist and providing them with the tools they need to build clear paths for advancement. Many companies lean on career pathing for this because it helps employees align learning and development opportunities to their career aspirations.

    This incentive can also motivate employees to engage more with your L&D programs because they’re given a better view of how learning can lead to tangible career outcomes within the organization.
  • Access to education
    Access to education is a powerful incentive for employees eager to develop their skill sets and advance their careers. When coupled with career mobility, these two incentives complement one another as employees are rewarded for engaging in learning initiatives with better career opportunities.

    People crave career progress. In fact, “progress towards their career goals” is the No. 1 motivation for employees to learn according to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report. 

  • Employee wellness initiatives 
    Commit to providing incentives that focus on reducing stress and burnout. This can include things such as free yoga classes, access to mental health and mindfulness resources (e.g. apps including Headspace, Calm), as well as ways to improve fitness and quit smoking.

    Employee well-being has become a top priority, thus a leading employee incentive program, and for good reason. In a Gallup research report, employee wellness proved to help reduce levels of burnout, better social well-being, and increase levels of belonging and feeling of thriving. Organizations gain value too. For instance, the cost of voluntary turnover due to burnout is 15% - 20% of payroll budgets each year. That means employee well-being amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars saved annually.

Employee incentives are here to stay

You can address talent development challenges