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Loyalty · 

8 minutes

Motivate Employees with Non-Monetary Rewards

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

For too long, the focus on employee rewards and benefits has been largely geared towards monetary incentives such as performance bonuses, holiday allowances, Christmas bonuses - the list goes on. The amount of companies focusing on motivating employees with non-monetary incentives is, however, increasing with great promise.

Why? Well, without spoiling the rest of the article, employers are starting to wake up to the importance of employee engagement and welfare, while employees themselves are starting to value things beyond extra money and bonuses. Companies typically offered the aforementioned bonuses, company cars, and lunch vouchers to keep employees sweet, but the landscape of employee recognition and rewards is quickly morphing.

Larger companies such as Apple, Google & Nike have been galvanizing forces in the progression of employee rewards, particularly non-monetary rewards. Is it because they're cheap? No. This is because employees have begun to value their welfare over their bank accounts, and the willingness of the average employee to work in low-quality environments has substantially decreased over the last 15 years.

Why Opt for Non-Monetary Rewards?

As we said, things are changing. Employees and employers alike are turning their eyes towards experiential rewards, increasing employee rewards and recognition, and balancing work and private life.

This movement towards non-monetary rewards shouldn't come as a surprise. For companies, offering non-monetary rewards is often considerably cheaper than offering financial rewards or fringe benefits like a company car or pension contributions. Employees value non-monetary rewards much more now, along with factors such as work-life balance & flexible working, mental health initiatives, peer-to-peer recognition, and working from home. However, these things are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to non-monetary rewards and incentives for employees. Take a look below for more in-depth recommendations and explanations of the benefits!


We've already touched on this one a bit, but flexibility is a non-monetary reward that employees place an inordinate amount of value on nowadays. Not only is it important for employee satisfaction and wellbeing, but it's almost a requirement - a 2019 survey showed that 30% of respondents had left a job because the company didn’t offer flexible work options. Employees are also willing to accept up to 8% less in salary in return for more flexibility in their working schedule - win-win.


Employee recognition is something that has gained huge popularity in the last 5 years, with multiple companies setting up formal recognition programs, peer-to-peer recognition systems, or both. However, despite its popularity and importance, as much as 68% of employees haven’t received any form of recognition for good work within the last year.

Why is it that monetary rewards are given almost without question on a yearly, quarterly, or even monthly basis, yet non-financial rewards that cost almost nothing are overlooked?

In addition to this, surveys have shown that 50% of employees say that receiving recognition and thanks for their work improves their relationship with management and builds trust. Voluntary turnover is also 31% lower for companies that have a recognition platform in place - no surprise there.


While rewards can come in the form of monetary rewards, there's a virtually endless amount of rewards that you can offer aside from pay rises or bonuses. What's more, non-monetary rewards have the potential to be much more successful for your business. Why? 85% of HR managers believe that rewards and recognition programs positively impact company culture and values. Did we mention that 68% of HR managers attribute success in retention to recognition or rewards programs, with 56% saying it helps with recruitment?

Time Off

This might seem like a simple one, but it's effective. Something as small as an extra day off can make employees feel valued and cared for in a way that an extra paycheque just doesn't. A great example of this is when Nike close their corporate HQ for a week to give their employees some space for their mental health. Giving employees a well-needed breather can be the recharge they needed to pick productivity back up again.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition & Feedback

Peer-to-peer feedback is not only a great tool for strengthening the synergy and culture within your company, but it's proven to be 35.7% more likely to lead to positive financial results than manager-only recognition. Looking for some inspiration? A great example of making peer-to-peer recognition work is Zappos - employees can nominate each other for rewards and awards as well as provide feedback.


Help your employees to help yourself - that's the name of the game. While training may not exactly seem like a treat for employees, investing in them is something they'll value more than monetary compensation. However, it's important to note here that the training should be formal and structured, not just on-the-job instructions. Training in a more formal sense is something that is often overlooked, particularly in smaller companies. However, LinkedIn found that a huge 93% of employees would have longer tenure at companies if it invested in them - might be worth looking into.

Autonomy & Responsibility

An important part of anyone's work is self-actualization - ask Maslow. While it might not be possible to constantly give employees more responsibility - and a corresponding pay rise - it is important to let them know it's possible. Having a clear progression plan for your employees will alleviate future frustrations and increase employee motivation.

Aside from progression plans, actually giving more autonomy can be of huge benefit to your organization. Employees are more motivated and productive, while giving them extra responsibility builds a culture of trust within your organization.

Health Investments

Your employees' health is their wealth - so invest in it! This doesn't necessarily mean taking the one-dimensional route and paying for their health insurance. More enjoyable ways to incorporate this into a non-monetary employee rewards strategy is to include perks like gym membership, provision of healthy lunches, team futsal or padel events, for example. Of course, providing other perks like health insurance is always welcome, but it may not result in the same feel-good feeling.

Experiential Rewards

'Experiential rewards' is quite a broad term, but that means more room for creativity! In fact, creativity plays a powerful role in the reception and success of your rewards, so put some thought into them! Giving experiential rewards to your employees, such as a spa day or a weekend away, can lead to a far greater affective response than a financial reward or incentive.

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