Gone are the days of cash bonuses and gift cards. What was once the only, and therefore acceptable, option for rewarding employees has become outdated as companies move toward more personalized, non monetary incentives.

Looking for non cash alternatives to use as employee rewards? We put together a list of non monetary employee incentives that fit budgets of any size and are guaranteed to boost employee motivation:

#1 Experiential rewards.

If you have a substantial budget dedicated to recognizing your employees, experiential rewards for employees are a great choice for you.

Unlike the standard gift card or cash bonus, experiential rewards are a non monetary form of employee recognition that are memorable, personal, and shareable. They’re also proven to drive employee engagement and retention rates - not to mention they’re effective at helping companies build meaningful relationships with their employees.

What do experiential rewards look like? They can be anything from local pottery classes to global travels - it all depends on what your employees want! The key is to get employees out and about to challenge their comfort zones, indulge their passions, or discover a new hobby - something that brings them happiness and increased connection.

Blueboard’s employee recognition platform has thousands of relevant and on-trend employee experiences. Some of our favorites include:

Trekking through ice caves in Reykjavik.

A two-date tour of ice caves, waterfalls, a lagoon, and the Northern Lights through the most breathtaking parts of Iceland.

Unwinding with a luxurious spa day.

A day at a relaxing local spa for several hours of pampering and “you” time.

Meeting llamas in Machu Picchu.

An adventure in Cusco and the opportunity to take a tour of one of the most iconic spots in the world.

Wining & dining before a Broadway show.

A luxurious stay in NYC and tickets to a renowned Broadway show for you and a friend.  

#2 Time off.

We spend 40 hours at work every week (at minimum). That adds up to 160 hours a month, or around 2,000 hours a year. No matter how much your employees love their jobs, they’ll always appreciate a day away from the office to invest in themselves. Which is why granting time off is an easy non monetary incentive to motivate employees.

If one of your engineers spent several long nights working to meet the deadline for a feature launch, encourage that individual to take the day off and unwind after the project is complete. This is an impactful way to demonstrate that you not only recognize your employee’s hard work, but also care about your employees' wellbeing. Whether your employee uses this time to reconnect with the family, pamper themselves at the spa, or catch up on errands. They’ll be grateful for the extra time and space to breathe.

#3 Personal development.

Optimize for non monetary incentives that will both motivate your employees and help them to  achieve their personal development goals, benefiting the employee and your business over the long term.

Whether it’s by providing a stipend for learning & development opportunities, sponsoring a career coach for your employees, bringing in a professional speaker, or sending them to a conference they request, there are countless ways you can help your employees achieve their personal development goals.

At our company, we offer bi-monthly lunch and learns to spotlight internal Blueboarders with expert knowledge to share, or friends of Blueboard who are professionals in their field. We’ve covered topics like coaching skills, networking, financial wellness, and even discovering your love language in the workplace. These events are mostly free to run and have the power to scale across the entire company.

invest in your employee's development
Sponsor a career coach, bring in a professional speaker, or send employees to a conference they request.

The purpose is twofold: helping employees develop personally will lead to their success professionally and demonstrates that you care about them outside of the workplace context. It also doesn’t hurt that LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report found that 93% of employees would stay at their company longer if it invested in their careers.

#4 One-on-one time.

For employees who appreciate in-person time and more personal expressions of gratitude, one-on-one time is a great non monetary incentive. There’s research to support this as well: NYU Steinhardt found that favorable treatment from a supervisor is synonymous with support from the organization. When employees feel that they are appreciated by their company, both their motivation to continue receiving employee rewards and their level of job performance increase accordingly.

So instead of a meaningless $100 cash bonus, take your high-performing employee out for a $5 coffee or walk around your office neighborhood. Employees will be thrilled for the opportunity to spend quality time with their manager or company executive.

one on one time with your employee
Take your employee out for a $5 coffee or walk around your office neighborhood.

#5 Company awards.

If you have employees who appreciate more public gestures, company awards are a great way to reward employees to motivate their performance. They can be given on an annual, quarterly or monthly basis, based on which employees demonstrate high-quality work and a commitment to your company’s values.

Part of the company award can be a fun prize that’s representative of your organization - perhaps passes to take two co-workers to a baseball game, if you live in a big sports town. The award doesn’t have to be super fancy or expensive, but it should be meaningful and a genuine reflection of what’s important to your company. Some companies might pass around a funny trophy to promote fame, notoriety, and pride over cash incentives.

Take your team to a baseball game
Part of the company award can be a fun prize that’s representative of your organization - perhaps passes to take two co-workers to a baseball game.

#6 Words of appreciation.

Sometimes, a few thoughtful words of appreciation are the best incentives to motivate employees. Be sure to mix it up though - you don’t need to be limited to the standard, boring forms of written communication like email. Consider more creative approaches, like taking the time to write a handwritten card, or collecting kind words from the employee’s colleagues into a digital board or eCard (check out Kudoboard.com for examples). It’s a much more meaningful alternative to a Starbucks gift card, and something that the employee can physically keep with them for a long time.

Boost employee motivation with non-monetary rewards.

When it comes to non-monetary rewards for employees, there’s so much more room for flexibility, creativity, and impact compared to cash bonuses. How are you rewarding top talent with non monetary incentives? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below. And if you’re curious to learn how Blueboard provides non-monetary incentives, spot rewards, sales recognition, and more for your company, request a demo now.

Looking for the best way to reward, recognize and incentivize your top people?

Connect with our team for a personalized demo of our recognition and rewards platform and see our hand-curated experience menus.

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