It can be challenging trying to find an effective employee incentive program that continually motivates your sales team. They need to a) be exciting and compelling enough to keep your employees motivated to perform and, b) be able to fit within your organization’s budget.

There’s a common misconception that employee incentive programs have to be complex or costly. Companies come to us all the time with a similar problem: they are over-spending on their rewards budget with expensive sales incentives and spiffs.

For example, there is a company in Austin whose sales floor is like a scene straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street. It is high-energy, full of yelling, gong-hitting and competition. To keep this momentum up, their VP of sales goes above and beyond when it comes to rewarding employees who hit their goal, win a sales competition or end up as the #1 sales rep. of the month. In the past year, one employee received the following: two round-trip tickets to a city of his choice, $1,000 cash, $400 in Visa gift cards, a 65’ flat screen tv, a team trip to South Padre, a 3-day pass to a local festival, assorted concert tickets, portable speakers by Beats by Dre and a Kindle. Now multiply that by a team of 100 employees and you have yourself a pricey incentive program!

“You don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot in return.” William Craig, Forbes Contributor

The ultimate goal is to keep your employees happy, productive, invested and engaged. Incentives are necessary to encourage your sales team to stay motivated and perform at a high level, and push them to be the very best employee they can be. But the reality is that you can maximize your return with incentive programs that don’t cost that much. Moreover, accomplishments don’t have to be major, they can be as simple as continuously hitting goals or providing help to others in need.

Here are some examples of low-cost incentive programs you could implement into your program that will help your team grow.

-Learning Incentive Programs: It is important to provide your employees with ways they can grow professionally and personally. Whether you are hiring someone new, or an existing employee got a promotion, you should be able to offer them resources to help them grow into their new responsibilities. Maintain a library of books, training materials, or online resources that are accessible to your employees and encourage them to take advantage of it. Take it a step further and offer custom experiences such as executive leadership sessions or professional development courses.

How Kazoo can help: Incentivize your employees with our Behavior Bonus feature by encouraging and rewarding your employees who take action of their own development participation. Whenever they complete a course or leadership session and report it to their manager, they earn reward points they can then spend how they choose.

-Tangible Incentives: Remember- these items do not have to break the bank. Make sure to offer things that your employees actually want and probably wouldn’t buy on their own. We have all heard stories about unsuccessful incentives that have failed to motivate their employees. Don’t waste your money on things they don’t necessarily care about (e.g. trophies, plaques, pens…).

How Kazoo can help: Use our Custom Rewards setup to create custom rewards your sales team actually wants. Some examples include: a GoPro, a pair of Bose noise cancellation headphones, a new George Foreman grill, or a housekeeping service to help free up their personal time. Also, use our Point Pooling feature to create team rewards that allow employees to pool their points together for redemption. Your sales team could go in on a team outing, happy hour or charitable cause.

-Recognition: This is perhaps the most powerful incentive. Oftentimes, what employees want the most is to be recognized for their accomplishments. Public acknowledgment helps to ensure that your employees will live up to their potential time after time. Sales people are competitive by nature, which is necessary, but it is also important that they work together and encourage and motivate members of their team.

How Kazoo can help: Our social recognition feed makes it possible for your team to send and receive recognition to one another. It also promotes specific behaviors that are aligned with your company’s core values. It is an easy way for everyone to see how well their team is doing. Plus, managers can view individual and team performance via an easy-to-navigate leaderboard. Ultimately, it helps sales leaders create a happy, motivated and engaged team!


Want more ways to motivate a sales team? Download our guide!

‘Tis the season to give thanks and be jolly.

Well ideally, you’re telling your employees how much you appreciate them and how valuable they are to you year-round. And because of that, your appreciated employees will stick around longer, as well as be more motivated and engaged on a daily basis. What company doesn’t want that? If your appreciation efforts have been slacking a bit, take this holiday season as the perfect time to make up for it. Show your employees how much you care with these eight great ideas.

-Say Thank You: Think of a notable instance your employee did something above and beyond and send some praise. A simple “thank you for what you do” is powerful and oftentimes enough to make an employee feel appreciated. Take it a step further and instead of emailing your thanks, handwrite a letter on stationery and deliver it personally. Call me old school, but receiving a personalized letter in this day in age is much more impactful and leaves a lasting impression.-Money, Money, Money: Give employees what they oftentimes want the most- money. Whether it is a well-deserved pay raise, an end of the year bonus or even a $100 gift card, it’s a surefire way of showing them you care. According to a survey by Glassdoor, when asked what employees want this holiday season the number 1 and 2 answers were a cash bonus and a pay raise, respectively.

-Create a Wall of Appreciation: Give credit when credit is due. Recognize employees hard work by displaying it publicly, for everyone to see. Sending a token of appreciation is gratifying and reassures your employees that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

-Throw a Swanky Holiday Party: Get creative with it! Throw a party that your employees will actually be excited about attending. Come up with a cool theme where your employees can dress up. Make it interactive- throw a dance competition or play White Elephant. Hire a DJ. And most importantly, make sure to have an open bar. Parties are a great way for a company to bond. Make a speech and highlight your favorite moments of the year. This is a perfect time to slip in some appreciation and thank your employees for all that they have done for you and your company.

-Paid Time Off/Flexible Holiday Hours: Everyone deserves a break. Make it easy for your employees to travel this holiday, be with family, get rested up and recharged. Your employees consistently work hard throughout the year and deserve to enjoy this holiday season. If paid vacation time isn’t an option, use extra vacation days as an incentive for achieving goals or winning a work competition.

-Create a Positive, Engaging Culture: There’s nothing more important than a solid culture, with a strong set of values and a clear mission. It is the foundation that attracts your employees from the get go. Make it a point to get to know your employees on a personal level and make sure their working style aligns with your work culture.

-Start a Team Tradition: Take this holiday season to start a tradition of giving back with your team. Dedicate the entire month of December to pay it forward to those in need. You could set up a donation drive in the office and have your employees bring in toys, book and clothing for children less fortunate. Set a date to go feed the homeless together. Get involved in a local charity that has a giving campaign for underprivileged families. The opportunities are wide and totally up to you.

-Recognition: Employee recognition is an important one and something that bosses should be doing year-round. According to a survey we conducted here at Kazoo, 26% of participants say they only receive a piece of recognition once a year from their boss or supervisor. Don’t be that type of boss! Make sure you are recognizing your team for all they do, while they are doing it, real-time.

As an employee, getting direct recognition from your higher-up shows that your work is valued and appreciated. The power of recognition is real, so employees, as well as bosses, should send it whenever it is deserved. Build a “culture of recognition” in your organization, starting this holiday season.

Want to see how Kazoo is the perfect platform to recognize and reward your employees YEAR-ROUND? Check us out!


As you scramble for new ways to make your employees light up like a Christmas tree this Holiday, let us gift you some helpful tips.

  • Employees love meaningful gifts. Even if you get all 800 of your employees the same exact gift, add a personal touch to it. Throw in a line about why they are so valuable to you as an employee. What are their specific gifts that you cherish so much? How have they made your company stronger? This is the perfect time to dote on an employee! Especially if the gift itself isn’t super personal. Larger companies can delegate this task to the leaders who work directly with employees in their department, to make it feel even more intimate and special. If you can, cater gifts to the interests or needs of your employees. Employees love gifts that encourage work-life balance, like a free pass to come in late to the office, or take half the day off to go hiking. Professional development opportunities, or mentor sessions with the CEO or boss, like those showcased in our 33 Reward Ideas for Millennials guide, are also generous and meaningful gifts.


  • Instead of cash, give an experience to remember. Take your team ice skating, to a hockey game, the ballet, or a comedy club. Encouraging employees to bond outside of the office creates even more connection amongst co-workers. Having friends at work, or at least having peers that employees feel friendly towards, makes for easier communication and feedback at work. It deepens trust amongst employees and with the company as a whole, and even inspires greater motivation! Fifty percent of Millennials say that friends at work keep them motivated. Thirty-nine percent say that having friends at work makes them more productive. (Business News Daily)


  • Throw a party your employees actually want to attend. If you’ve ever been to a boring company Holiday party, you know how much of a drag they can be! Opt for entertainment that your employees would actually enjoy, like a karaoke machine with a variety of oldies and greatest hits (to accommodate Gen Y, Gen X and your baby boomers, of course!). Play games. Give away prizes, or host a competitive game of White Elephant. For food and drinks, have employees make a list of their favorite snacks, or bring their favorite dish, ala potluck style.


  • Give back to those in need. Together. Winters—and the Holiday season in general—can be especially cruel for some, which is why so many companies choose to volunteer their time, money, and resources to a cause that will make a difference. There’s nothing more heart-warming than giving to those in need during a time when they need it most. Sing Holiday jingles with your team at nursing homes. Feed the homeless together at a nearby shelter. Drop off books and toys to children’s homes. Donate food and supplies to local animal shelters. Volunteering together is a powerful way to make a difference outside the office. Charles Dickens said it right: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” Your employees will feel so grateful and gifted for the opportunity to give back. Check out how one of our customers came together as a company to help someone in need.


  • Make gifts, rewards and appreciation a company tradition. The best way to make your employees feel appreciated at work, of course, is to recognize and reward them between the holidays, too. Isn’t it motivating when someone calls you out for your specific talents, unique approach or attitude? It’s uplifting, right? That’s exactly what happens to your employees when you make the effort to recognize how their individuality positively affects the team as a unit. By shining the light on their skills, through the medium of real-time recognition, you inspire that warm, holiday cheer all year round. Here are 50 employee reward ideas to get your creative juices flowing.


To make every day in the office feel like a special occasion, read our related content on rewards employees love to receive: