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10 Employee Bonus Ideas To Engage the Workforce

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Employee bonuses are a tricky balancing act for managers and organizations. Rewarding top performers seems straightforward, but financial constraints and tax burdens add complexity. This risks emptying the budget while not upholding the promises. Hence, it becomes essential to invest in bonuses that fit in with the culture and the budget.
This blog will discuss the 10 most effective employee bonuses the workforce will love.

Let’s delve in!

Key Takeaways

  • Insights on 10 Employee Bonuses.
  • Understanding the tax implications of bonuses
  • How can an organization balance it out.

10 Employee Bonus That Really Works

Understanding what works and what not is something you need to brainstorm with the management. But before you do that check out our list of employee bonuses that will benefit you. Let's begin.

1. Gain or Profit-Sharing Bonuses

Tying compensation to company profitability makes employees feel invested in organizational success. When part of their earnings comes from a percentage of revenue gains, people apply their talents toward boosting the bottom line. It transforms them from regular employees to stakeholders sharing wins and losses.

This breed of bonus tightens the alignment between individual growth and corporate advancement. Employees push themselves to overdeliver, knowing it multiplies company earnings. It creates a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats mentality, infusing greater meaning into one's daily workflow.

Companies like Salesforce provide profit-sharing bonuses based on company performance. Meanwhile, Hubspot provides stock options as part of its profit-sharing scheme. [“]

2. Spot Bonuses

Unexpected financial gestures energize workplace motivation and loyalty. Leadership acknowledges when an employee exceeds expectations by tackling a last-minute challenge. Surprising them with an on-the-spot bonus makes them feel valued. It's like winning the lottery without buying a ticket!

The random reward and recognition for exceptional efforts from managers encourage employees to go the extra mile. It prompts people to become more proactive problem solvers, which helps earn appreciation.

For “spot bonuses,” Netflix provides them to employees who do exceptionally well or exceed their regular responsibilities. [“]

3. Non-Cash Bonuses

While cash offers immediate utility, non-cash bonuses deliver lasting positive associations long-term. Seeing an engraved trophy commemorating a peak performance evokes recollections of the hard work. It also creates a sense of accomplishment for attaining a milestone.

These symbolic accolades displayed on office shelves allow former colleagues a nostalgic conversation piece. This helps them reminisce over the accomplishments forged together at past jobs. Even as everyone's career paths diverge to new organizations, those non-cash icons remain forever. The triumphs achieved at a certain place and time help the employees to do better again.

Take the example of Airbnb. It offers its employees non-cash benefits such as travel credits, wellness initiatives, and tuition reimbursements. [“]

4. Task Bonuses

Not every responsibility at a job captures one's passions. Adding financial incentives to complete mundane duties boosts morale and increases efficiency together. Bonus rewards, such as extra PTO for meeting targets, make monotonous chores worthwhile. For example, an extra vacation day granted for filling 100 expense forms makes people value the monotonous process.

The small wins sweeten roles that before felt like a chore to rush through. Adding lottery-esque opportunities to earn gift cards for exceeding targets gives everyone something to look forward to. It interests an employee in tasks outside one's primary job description.

Regarding task bonuses, Uber drivers can earn "boost bonuses" by completing a set number of trips during peak hours. [“]

5. Sign-On Bonuses

Starting a new career stage can be overwhelming and daunting, especially for recent graduates or those switching industries requiring unfamiliar skill sets. Lucrative sign-on bonuses empower new hires by easing transitions into foreign corporate cultures.

Unexpected bonus compensation demonstrates to a new hire their value to the business. It facilitates the transfer to a new employment by helping move expenses and repay student loans. This action increases trust in the abilities that justified the expenditure.

6. Referral Bonuses

Coworkers who recommend candidates who get hired should always receive referral windfalls. Such professional networks verify promising talent and minimize recruiting expenses for organizations. Rewarding employees for endorsements with bonuses further benefits the whole ecosystem.

A lot of businesses reward employees who recommend qualified prospects. When these recommendations are successful, they get paid 5–10% of the new hire's first-year salary. Bonus payments for modest work, like building an introductory connection, enhance positive word-of-mouth and camaraderie. Effective referral systems increase staff investment, performance, and retention—a win-win scenario.

7. Retention Bonuses

Long-tenured employees represent invaluable institutional knowledge. When outside competitors attempt to recruit these veterans, current leadership can offer retention bonuses. Loyalty is demonstrating respect for experienced employees who impart knowledge for seamless transitions.

Five-figure annual bonuses for a three- to five-year commitment help deter staff from quitting. They balance long-term wealth versus short-term gains. Employees also consider 401(k) hikes, salary increases, and sizable loyalty bonuses. These incentives promote perseverance in the face of difficulties without compelling external offers.

8. Holiday Bonuses

Few initiatives energize organizational morale and fuel seasonal excitement like holiday bonus buildup. Generous bonuses at year-end help employees enjoy family gatherings. It enables them to be carefree and end the year on a high note.

With holiday magic swirling in the air, bonus buzz kicks celebrations into overdrive. It discharges relief and rings a bell of cheers and toast among colleagues. At annual meetings, the leadership recognizes the accomplishment that their direction has resulted in. This inspires everyone for the endeavors of the upcoming year.

9. Commission Bonuses

For sales teams, commission-based compensation aligns bigger wins with bigger paydays. This accelerates exceptional effort levels from ambitious professionals. If professionals earn preset percentages of every deal, they can push past the finish line, the potential, uncapped personal payouts intensify their hunger.

Commissions connect a person's income to their sales performance. The more deals closed, the bigger the payoff. This drives an employee to hone their sales skill and engage high-value targets. In the long run, this enables an employee to perform at their peak and improve the brand value.

10. Gift Card Bonuses

Raising group morale during slower periods between major bonus cycles still matters. Surprising reliable employees working odd hours with gift cards breeds positivity. Beyond fueling productivity off good perks, it makes diligent colleagues feel respected by leadership.

The modest investments into recognizing standout dedication smooths rapport between both sides. If nominating a peer as 'Employee of the Week' comes with generous coffee shop coupons, people strive to match thoughtful efforts. It gives leadership insight into who steps up when things are down - and makes them feel supported.


One great thing about gift cards is that they are virtually available in the market. There are certain platforms as well that make it easy for you and the employees. Such platforms have a plethora of gift card options where employees can redeem them according to their convenience. If you want to know more about it, check out our platform. It is easy to use, plus it enables employees with a wide variety of options as well.

Learn More: Gift Cards: The Perfect Employee Reward For Your Workforce

Tax Considerations for Bonuses: Understanding Employer and Employee Responsibilities

Bonuses are often taxed differently than regular wages for employers and employees. It also varies across various jurisdictions. Both parties need to understand local tax laws and obligations.

Most employers are responsible for withholding and remitting taxes on employee bonus payments. The applicable taxes may include-

  • National income taxes,

  • Payroll taxes,

  • Social insurance contributions, etc.

Tax rates can vary widely depending on the payment type and local regulations. Without tax planning, bonus payouts could result in unanticipated costs for employers.

Employees may also need to pay additional bonus taxes, especially when no income tax is withheld upfront. Even with withholding, supplemental wages like bonuses could push an employee's earnings into a higher tax bracket. This could nullify the extra earnings. As per the US norms, the federal bonus tax rate is typically at 22% under $1 million. And this is something that every employer and employee should be aware of.

Bonuses may also impact eligibility for income-based government benefits in some regions. Proper planning needs to happen to avoid such occurrences. The aim is to help employees earn all possible benefits during their tenure.

Some smart tips for both parties when dealing with possible taxation of bonus payments:

‱ Employers should familiarize themselves with all regulatory responsibilities. It should include things like knowing the rules and tax duties on bonuses.

‱ Employees should understand their local income tax obligations for bonus earnings. This will help them make appropriate estimated payments if needed. Consulting a tax professional may be tactful.

Striking the Balance: How Much Bonus is Enough?

Determining the appropriate amount for employee bonuses is a tricky balancing act for companies. Factors like individual performance, profits, industry benchmarks, and budget constraints help guide bonus decisions.
Some of the best practices include:

Performance-based Bonuses:

Match bonuses to measurable goals for individual positions to reward top performers. Establish clear objectives and data-driven formulas to calculate amounts.


Divide a pre-determined percentage of company profits for employee distribution. This should be based on hours worked, years of service, or contribution levels. Provides shared incentives.

Discretionary Bonuses:

Allow for extra year-end bonuses to recognize exceptional accomplishments. This cannot be measured by metrics or tied to profits. Provides flexibility to reward efforts that boost company success.

Ideal bonus amounts will reflect an individual's impact on company performance and targets. Open communication of goals and formulas creates transparency. This gives them the idea of how bonuses are determined from corporate budgets. Balancing fixed performance incentives with discretionary elements helps strike an optimal balance to motivate staff.

Regardless of approach, the amount should resonate as meaningful to employees without overstretching finances. Good compensation structures with clear metrics help keep the bonus program fair and attractive. In the long run, the program should be fruitful and within the budget.


At the end of the day, it is about the extra benefits you provide your employees. They should be helpful to them without breaking the bank. In addition, it should also elevate the work culture and help in retaining the employees. In the long run, it all comes down to the branding and how you create value for the employees.

This article is written by Jyoti Prakash Barman. He is an in-house Content Marketer at Vantage Circle with interests in music and automobiles. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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The Ultimate Guide to Employee Rewards and Recognition

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Rewards and Recognition