How to Create a Nordstrom Employee Incentive Program On a Walmart Budget

Michelle Benjamin – CEO of Benjamin Enterprises


Employees, including their salaries and benefits, are one of the largest if not the largest expense a business incurs. Investing in these employees is essential to increasing employee loyalty and morale as well as reducing employee turnover. A company’s salary, benefits and incentive program is essential in attracting and retaining quality employees.

During this economic downturn, these incentive programs are some of the biggest targets in reducing expenses and increasing profits. The decision to reduce incentives, freeze pay and eliminate bonuses will impact the bottom line in the short term, yet could have long term detrimental effects on a business. These decisions can not only decrease productivity and morale, but can increase employee turnover.

So what is a business to do? The creative ideas below should assist you in developing a high end incentive program on a discount budget.

  1. Scale Down Current Programs – If your current bonus program is budget prohibitive, consider scaling it down, but not discontinuing it all together. Instead of a quarterly or annual bonus, think monthly or weekly incentives. This could be an “Employee of the Month” program using input from other employees or creating a “Treasure Chest” of small gift cards, certificates for additional vacation days or other rewards that employees are allowed to use based on achievements. These ideas would allow you to still offer incentives at an overall lower cost.
  2. Increase Vacation – Most employees wish that they had more time off from work. Whether it is more time in the summer or additional time off during the holidays, this is an easy way for your employees to feel appreciated. You are already covering annual salary and benefits for the employee. Adding additional time off has a low cost and a high benefit for increasing employee morale.
  3. Flexible Work Hours – Offering employees the opportunity for alternative work schedules, whether it is a 4 day – 10 hour workweek or the ability to work from home is an attractive benefit to the majority of employees. Depending on how you handle this benefit, it could be a major reduction in the facility’s costs including utilities and office space usage. Add to these savings the employee’s reduced commuting costs and it’s a win-win.
  4. Get employee input – Even though this is the last item in the list, it is the most critical. Find out what is really important to your employees. This could vary greatly depending on your demographics, industry and location. Discounted child care may sound like a good idea to the HR department, but isn’t really a viable incentive if the majority of your employees are over 55. When employees feel that their input is needed to benefit the company, they feel valued, appreciated and important. These feelings in turn foster loyalty to the company.

By maintaining an employee incentive program, businesses can attract new employees and retain their current employees. Incentive programs increase your employee’s feelings of appreciation, usefulness and importance to the company. In the long run, the incentive program will actually reduce costs by reducing or eliminating costs related to employee turnover, reducing facility related costs as well as reaping the benefits from increased employee morale, loyalty and good will.

Michelle Benjamin is the Founder and CEO of Benjamin Enterprises, a Workforce Solutions and Training & Development Provider. She can be reached at 800.677.2532 or