Organizational Wellness

Non-Monetary Incentives to Improve Wellbeing and Engagement in the Workplace

Feb 22, 2023
Last Updated Jun 11, 2024

Your best employees are the ones who go above and beyond regularly and show dedication to their work. To encourage them to stay engaged, motivated, and productive in the workplace, it’s important to recognize their efforts and reward them.

One way to reward your employees is through monetary compensation. However, research shows that certain types of monetary compensation, like performance related pay, can put pressure on people, resulting in unnecessary stress. A less stress-inducing alternative to this type of reward could be non-monetary incentives.   

According to Gallup, money is not the most memorable form of recognition. Instead, companies are rewarding employees with non-cash incentives such as flexibility, development opportunities, or recognition. The goal of these rewards is to increase job satisfaction, which in turn will increase engagement and attract job seekers. In this article, we’ll explore non-monetary incentives, their benefits, and examples of incentives you can implement today.


What are Non-Monetary Incentives?

Non-monetary incentives are rewards or recognition given to employees other than money. They include benefits like extra time off, flexible working arrangements, gifts, and training opportunities.

These incentives provide a non-financial way to motivate staff and increase engagement in the workplace. Providing non-monetary rewards in addition to a regular paycheck helps make the case that you truly value your employees. As a result, you’ll likely see an increase in employee morale and, therefore, productivity. In fact, employeerecognition is one of the top drivers for producing better work and innovative ideas.

From the employer’s perspective, these incentives can also serve as a way to retain current staff, an especially challenging featduring an economic downturn. Non-monetary incentives allow you to reward staff in a way that doesn’t eat into your profits. Plus, if your company cannot afford to give promotions or raises, then providing non-monetary incentives can be a more affordable way to make employees feel appreciated despite postponing salary bumps.

Offering non-monetary rewards also helps employers attract top talent. These incentives can differentiate your company from the competition and show that you are invested in creating a positive workplace culture with additional perks to look forward to.

Examples of Non-Monetary Incentives

There are many kinds of non-monetary incentives, some of which are obvious and some of which may require that you think outside the box. As you start offering employees experiential rewards or flex benefits that have nothing to do with salary or cash bonuses, make note of the benefits that are more popular than others.

Let’s take a look at examples of common popular, non-cash incentives for employees.

  1. Recognition and Public Praise for Job Performance

Recognition and public praise are powerful non-cash incentives that can go a long way in improving employee wellbeing and engagement in the workplace. Public praise is a great way to boost morale and let employees know their hard work is paying off. It also serves as an effective motivator for employees to continue striving for success.

Consider starting a recognition program using Slack, email, or a tool like Lattice to share public praise. This can be done intermittently or scheduled weekly to feature top performers, celebrate work anniversaries, or highlight great teamwork. You can also acknowledge employee ideas and input, even if you don’t end up acting on those ideas.

You might even choose to celebrate your employees with an employee appreciation day or host a party to honor a team’s hard work. The important thing is to show that your staff’s efforts are noticed and that their work and opinions matter.

  1. Physical Gifts and Free Food

Physical gifts and free food are fantastic ways to show appreciation for your employees’ good work while boosting morale.

Physical gifts give employees something tangible they can use or keep, making it a special reminder of their achievements. Consider giving physical tokens like gift cards, company swag, or other items that will bring them joy.

Free food is also an excellent incentive for employees to stay productive and energized throughout their workday. If you work in an office, consider providing your employees healthy snacks or a catered lunch. If you work remotely, you could offer your staff vouchers or stipends that they can apply to meals they order at home.

  1. Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling allows employees to work outside of traditional office hours and days. This could include working from home,hybrid work, or having more flexible start and end times. In a recent Gallup survey, nine out of ten people reported wanting to maintain some form of remote work.

A flexible schedule allows employees to prioritize their wellbeing while also giving them the flexibility they need to balance work and personal life. If you want to accommodate this flexible scheduling but are worried that it will slow down productivity and communication, you can set certain parameters for everyone to follow. For example, let employees decide what hours they work as long as a few hours in the day overlap with everyone else.

  1. Professional Development Opportunities

More than half of employees say that a lack of professional development opportunities increases their stress levels. Consider offering employees these types of incentives for a chance to learn and grow their skills, while motivating them in the workplace. From team workshops or online courses to on-the-job training initiatives and mentorships, these growth opportunities can help employees feel supported in their careers.

By investing in your team member’s development, you can demonstrate that you are dedicated to helping them reach their full potential and increase their value within the workplace. Additionally, this investment can lead to a more robust workforce overall and better business outcomes for the company.

  1. Team Bonding Activities

Team bonding activities are one of the great perks of working at a company. People often say that the thing they’ll miss the most about a job is their coworkers. Team bonding provides an essential outlet for employees to socialize outside work, build relationships and trust with their colleagues, and enjoy a break from the normal routine.

These activities can be as simple as having lunch together or taking a group walk around the block. Or they can be structured team-building exercises, planned charity or volunteer events, and other company outings like bowling nights or happy hours.

No matter the type of team bonding activity you choose, it is a great way to create a supportive and fun atmosphere that employees can look forward to.

  1. Additional Time Off

Offering your staff additional days off, or even just a few hours per week can be a great way to show them that you value their wellbeing and understand when they need to take a break. It is especially effective for employees that are feeling burnt out or overwhelmed with their workloads.

Another option is to offer “Summer Fridays,” also known as half-day Fridays or alternative Fridays off. Summer Fridays have grown in popularity in recent years. This incentive provides employees with an extra day off each week to rest, which increases productivity during the week.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, long working hours are a critical factor in work-related stress, indicating an overall need for more work-life wellness. Additional time off allows employees to take the extra time they need to recharge and return to work feeling refreshed and more productive.

  1. Access to Fitness Activities or Wellness Programs

Fitness and wellness programs are powerful non-monetary incentives that help employees prioritize their physical and mental health. Rewards like gym memberships, massage therapy, or meditation classes can help reduce stress and improve wellbeing in your workforce.

Employees also build better relationships with their colleagues when they participate in activities together—even virtual activities like online yoga classes or fitness challenges. These programs also serve as a reminder that your company is dedicated to promoting mental and physical wellness, which both current and potential hires find attractive.

Keeping Track of a Non-Monetary Incentive Program

It’s beneficial to you and your employees to keep track of the non-cash rewards you give them. Tracking your incentive program with a spreadsheet or a software platform can help you stay organized and determine which fringe benefits are the most popular. 

It’s good practice to decide on specific key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics to assign your incentives. This way you can make clear what results you’re hoping to achieve, such as increasing employee retention or improved sales, and whether the program is successful in achieving those goals. It can also show your employer the positive impact of non-cash incentives on your workforce’s productivity.

For your employees, tracking their rewards in one place can act like a journal to reflect on their performance and feel proud of their accomplishments. In the same way that a writer might fight imposter syndrome by keeping a brag folder of positive feedback and noteworthy moments, a reward tracking system can boost the morale of an employee that might be feeling low.

Tailoring a Program to Your Employee Needs

It’s important to remember that every employee has different needs and wants–so it’s essential to be creative in your approach and tailor your offerings to fit their needs.

If you would like assistance creating a program that meets the needs of your employees while improving their health and wellness, feel free to reach out to a Wellbeing Specialist. No matter what you choose, the best incentives will always be ones that show employees they are cared for and appreciated by their employer. That’s an investment worth making!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


Our weekly newsletter is your source of education and inspiration to help you create a corporate wellness program that actually matters.

By subscribing you agree Wellhub may use the information to contact you regarding relevant products and services. Questions? See our Privacy Policy.