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Best Employee Incentive Programs

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Businesses use employee incentive program companies to motivate employees. Read our guide to research the best employee incentive program for you. We explain what to look for in services and products that increase productivity and create a happier work environment. Examples of incentives include cash bonuses, gift cards and event tickets.

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Employee incentive program features

Accreditation and memberships

Employee Incentive Program companies can have different accreditation or memberships in organizations in their field, which deem them reputable companies.

  • Incentive Gift Card Council: The Incentive Gift Card Council recognizes companies that utilize gift cards as an effective incentive solution.
  • Recognition Professionals International Membership: A company that is a member of Recognition Professionals International has been recognized as a leading company in the industry of workforce recognition.
  • Incentive Marketing Association: Members of the International Marketing Association are recognized as companies devoted to using incentives and recognition to improve performance.

Programs offered

There are a wide range of services and products offered by employee incentive companies to help employers provide incentives to their employees.

  • Scalable, customizable incentive programs: Some companies offer customers fully customizable incentive programs, tailored to meet an employer's needs.
  • Social recognition programs: Social recognition programs help employers provide technology to their employees so they can track public acknowledgments of merit as motivation.
  • Incentive product programs: Some companies simply offer products like gift cards, which employers can purchase to motivate their employees to succeed.

Customer interaction

The level of interaction with customers by professionals at employee incentive programs companies varies between companies.

  • No direct customer interaction: Many companies that simply sell incentive products online allow customers to access and purchase those products online.
  • Initial customer interaction: Some companies only interact with employers initially to help them select and purchase the right program, without continued contact.
  • Complete program consulting: Companies that offer program-consulting work directly with clients regularly to build an incentive program that changes with the company.

Industry specification

Employee incentive programs companies can either be general or industry-specific.

  • General employee incentive program companies: These companies work with employers in any industry.
  • Multiple industry employee incentive program companies: These companies work with employers within a limited number of industries.
  • Industry specific employee incentive program companies: These companies only work with companies within a specific industry.


There are several different platforms through which employee incentive program companies offer their incentive programs.

  • Online: Some employee incentive programs are solely offered online, accessible through a computer.
  • Mobile: Other companies offer their programs through an app, which employees can access on smartphones and tablets from any location.
  • Combination programs: Some companies offer incentive programs available both online and on an app.

Product minimums

Companies in the employee incentive programs industry often set minimums for how much an employer can spend or purchase.

  • No minimum: Some companies have no minimum purchase requirement and will allow employers to purchase something as small as one gift card as a reward.
  • Low minimums: Some companies require employers to purchase a minimum amount of product or services, such as a group of tickets to a show, in order to make any purchase.
  • Ongoing payments: Companies that provide employers and HR representatives consulting and ongoing incentive programs require that companies commit to paying for the program for a certain period.

Types of employee incentive program companies

Gift card companies

Many employee incentive program companies simply offer employers gift cards to incentivize employees. Some offer gift cards that can be used at brand name stores, while others offer manufacturer's coupons.

Employee incentive program consulting companies

These full-service companies work with employers to build and tailor programs specifically for a company. They provide ongoing communication to ensure the programs are successful.

Health incentive program companies

These companies are focused on health and wellness. They use incentives in order to boost employee health.

Safety incentive program companies

For businesses where safety is of utmost importance in the workplace, some programs reward employees for being safe and effective at work. Many of these companies work with businesses like manufacturing and construction.

Who uses employee incentive programs?

Human resource representatives at large companies

Human resources representatives are often charged with keeping morale high at large companies, where employees can get lost in the shuffle.

Executives at struggling companies

Heads of companies that are struggling financially can benefit from using an employee incentive program to help boost employee motivation and morale.

Heads of companies in manufacturing or manual labor industries

Manual labor and manufacturing comes with many safety risks. Heads of companies in these industries can use employee incentive program companies to help ensure their employees stay safe.

Heads of sales teams

Sales teams are often payed on a commission basis. Employee incentive program companies can help the heads of sales teams motivate members of their teams.

Incentive programs FAQ

What is an example of an incentive?
An incentive encourages someone to do better. There are a few different kinds of incentives an employer might offer. Common types of employee incentives are:
  • Compensation like raises, cash bonuses or profit-sharing
  • Recognition like praise or achievement certifications
  • Other employment perks like free lunch, sporting tickets or extra vacation time
Do incentives work for employees?
Yes, research has shown that incentive programs increase employee productivity by up to 15%. Team incentives can raise performance by up to 44%. Typically, long-term incentives are the most successful.
Why do companies give incentives?
Typically, companies create employee incentive programs to promote a productive work environment and make employees feel valued.
What are employee incentive programs?
Employee incentive programs are initiatives meant to promote or encourage specific outcomes from workers. For most companies, the main goals are to show appreciation and increase overall productivity.
How do I start an employee recognition program?
To start an employee recognition program at a company:
  1. Have a vision. Before you start, know why you desire an employee recognition program and what you hope the outcome is. A successful program is centered on rewarding and motivating employees.
  2. Talk to employees. They know what they want, so get their input. Consider sending out a survey.
  3. Involve managers. Put employee recognition in the hands of people who directly supervise them. You may want to develop a committee for the program as well, and managers are a good start.
  4. Develop criteria. Spell out exactly how employees will qualify for recognition.
  5. Try it out. Remember, you can tweak your program as it develops.
Can you give gift cards to employees?
Yes, you can give gift cards to your employees, but you want to keep track of them, as the IRS considers gift cards taxable income.
Why are incentives important for employees?
Incentives are important for employees to feel valued in their positions and push themselves to achieve more productivity in their roles. Incentive programs also help attract quality employees during the hiring process.

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    Employee incentive program author reviews


    TicketsatWork is an employee incentive program company that offers exclusive discounted tickets to entertainment events like theme parks, shows and sports events. The company was founded in 2001, and is headquartered in Hollywood, Florida.

    • Tickets to leading companies and events: TicketsatWork has exclusive deals with some of the most popular companies in the world, including Disney and Universal.
    • Free of charge to register: Employers do not have to pay anything to register, so it is a cost-free way to see what incentives are available.
    • No cost minimums: There is no minimum cost for employers, so it's a good choice for companies with budgetary restrictions.
    • Staff-handled fulfillment: The company handles the fulfillment of tickets and passes, so businesses do not have to worry about the logistics of getting incentives to their employees.
    • Easy online access: Representatives from companies can register online and browse available options.
    Read 1724 Reviews

    Purchasing Power started in 2001 as an employee purchasing program — an interest-free payment plan derived from an affordable, monthly payroll deduction. Purchasing Power provides a variety of products to choose — including GE, Samsung and Michael Kors — that would be otherwise difficult to purchase without going through complicated rent-to-own or layaway programs.

    • Zero interest: Unlike buying with a high-interest credit card, Purchasing Power charges no interest on purchases.
    • Get your item immediately: With Purchasing Power, you receive your item upfront, so no more waiting periods like layaway programs.
    • Free sign up and no credit check: The only check Purchasing Power completes is making sure your job is involved with the program. There is no credit check necessary and sign up is free.
    • Large selection: Among a long list of companies, Purchasing Power’s collection includes GE, Samsung, XBox, Dell, Whirlpool, Nintendo, KitchenAid and Serta.
    • Simple, fixed payments with no surprises: You decide a fixed payment plan between 6 or 12 months, and payments are taken directly from your paycheck.
    Read 651 Reviews

    Globoforce is an employee incentives company that provides businesses with employee incentive resources on a global scale. The company was founded in 1999.

    • Global: Globoforce works with companies across the world, so it's a good option for a business no matter where that business is located.
    • Flexible program offerings: The company offers businesses a wide range of employee incentive programs, from years of service awards to health and wellness programs, all flexible to fit specific needs.
    • Customer support availability: Globoforce directly handles any questions or concerns employees have.
    • Well-known clients: The company has a reputation for being used successfully by some of the world's leading companies, like Symantec and Intuit.
    • Technological innovation: The company uses many technologically-forward programs and apps to let employees track incentives and see the progress of others in the company, adding additional motivation to perform.
    PromoGroup Rewards

    PromoGroup Rewards is an incentives company that is focused on offering gift certificate rewards. The parent company is PromoGroup Central, Inc., which was founded in Chicago in 1970.

    • Huge selection of gift certificates: The company offers gift certificates for a huge variety of goods, services, and products.
    • Redeemable anywhere: PromoGroup Rewards gift certificates are redeemable at nearly any grocery store, so the company is a convenient choice for companies located across the U.S.
    • Convenient customer support: The company offers both employers and employees customer support options through email and telephone.
    • Simple online shopping: PromoGroup Rewards offers employers or HR representatives easy online shopping options to simplify the process.
    • Great holiday gift idea: Because the company focuses on grocery gift certificates, it is an excellent for holiday-time incentives.

    Perks.com is a company that has been offering companies incentive programs since 2001. Today, they work with more than 5 million users.

    Read 4 Reviews

    MotivAction is an employee incentives programs company that has been in business since 1976. The company is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, but they also have offices in Chicago, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, and San Diego.

    • Wide range of industries: MotivAction has experience working with companies in a wide range of industries, including insurance, pharmaceutical, healthcare, high-tech, food service, beverages, transportation, automotive, manufacturing and more.
    • Multiple programs: The company offers employers choices of multiple programs, including milestone recognition, outstanding achiever nomination apps, social recognition, learn to earn, and more.
    • Mobile technology: The company's websites and apps work on PCs, tablets and smartphones, so employees can access their incentive program software no matter where they are located or what device they are using.
    • Excellent reputation: MotivAction has the reputation of being an industry leader, and they've won many awards, including Incentive Magazine's Top 10 Most Influential Companies, Motivation Masters Channel Partner Winner, Creativity International Awards, and more.
    • Excellent customer service: The company offers employers easy, convenient customer service options, including via email and phone, as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
    GC Incentives

    GC Incentives is a company that offers gift cards as employee incentives. The company was founded in 1997, and they are run from their headquarters in Omaha, NE.

    • Large selection of gift cards: The company offers a selection of more than 200 brand-name gift cards, meaning they offer incentives that employees actually want.
    • Convenient delivery: GC Incentives' gift cards can be delivered either by mail or email, so it offers employers options of how they want to get gift cards to employees.
    • Customizable gift cards: The company can customize any gift card to have a business's logo on it to create branded and personalized incentives.
    • Gift cards never expire: The gift cards from GC Incentives never expire, which means that employers can keep and save them for when they want to use them, and recipients can use them at their convenience.
    • SuperCertificate Award options: The SuperCertificate Award option from GC Incentives allows employees to choose which gift card they want and how they want to spend their reward.
    Awards Network

    Awards Network is an employee incentives program company located in La Porte, Indiana. Founded more than 60 years ago, the company is focused on helping employers provide their employees with awards as incentives.

    Read 7 Reviews
    Hallmark Business Connections

    Hallmark Business Connections is a division of the larger Hallmark Cards company. They are headquartered in Minneapolis, MN and also have locations in Kansas City and Duluth.

    • Award winning: Hallmark Business Connections has won a slew of awards for their work, including the 2012 and 2013 Bronze Quill Award of Merit from the International Association of Business Communicators.
    • Accredited: The company is accredited, as well as a member of organizations like the Incentive Marketing Association, the Incentive Gift Card Council and Recognition Professionals International.
    • Multiple programs: The company offers a selection of employee incentive programs, including employee recognition, wellness engagement and customer engagement, which means company execs and HR representatives can choose the right program for their business.
    • High-level companies: Hallmark Business Connections is known for working with high-level clients, including many Fortune 500 companies.
    • Online ordering: Ordering incentives for employees is simple via an online ordering process.

    WorkStride is an employee incentives program offered by its parent company, CorporateRewards. The company is headquartered in New York, NY and it has been in business since 1999.

    Read 3 Reviews

    LoyaltyWorks is a company that provides online, points-based business reward programs for businesses. The company is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.

    • High-level clients: LoyaltyWorks has built their reputation by working with high level clients like Siemens, Air BP, Bazooka Candy and more.
    • Large selection of incentives: The company offers the largest selection of incentives in the country, meaning that employers will find something to motivate a wide range of employees.
    • International rewards: Loyaltyworks has rewards that are available throughout the globe, making it a convenient option for businesses with multiple office locations or employees that are scattered globally.
    • Fast launch time: The company can work with execs and HR representatives to create a custom rewards program, and they can launch the program in as little as 4 weeks.
    • Thought leader: LoyaltyWorks has a blog offering advice on the industry, and they are considered to be knowledgeable experts about employee incentive programs.

    Compare Reviews for Top Employee Incentive Programs