Staff Incentives in the Age of Work-from-Home

Brad McEvoy
Co-founder and CTO of Kademi

28/5/2024 Incentives How-to

For employers, the dramatic shift to widespread remote working ushered in by the COVID-19 Pandemic, has created both challenges and opportunities.

After all, with more employees working from home more often, it can be difficult to maintain company-wide objectives, such as productivity, teamwork and customer focus. Similarly, employers want staff to be comfortable and productive at home, but the cost of a full office setup for each and every remote employee can be prohibitively high.

So how best to balance these challenges?

Kademi to the rescue!


Creating a staff incentives strategy

Incentives are simple: do something, get something.

But what precisely is on the ‘do’ side, and what is on the ‘get’ side? This is what’s called the incentive mechanic.

The best way to run incentives is with a point system where certain desirable activities earn points, with those points then redeemable for various rewards.

The ‘do’ side: what staff activities to incentivise

So how best to motivate employees while aligning their efforts with your business objectives?

  • Customer satisfaction ratings. If your business is client-facing, use a sentiment feedback system which can directly drive incentives. This is great because it’s simple, transparent, and directly connected to your business success.

  • Transactional activity, such as sales or billable hours. Again, this is good because it's both simple and transparent. Be careful not to over-emphasise this area, however, because an excessive focus on short-term outcomes can cause problems in other areas. 

  • For less tangible outcomes, such as teamwork, use discretionary manager awards to incentivise behaviours. A great approach here is to use a ‘badge system’, so employees clearly understand what you want them to achieve. For example, consider creating a ‘Smokejumper’ badge reward, specifically for team members who ‘dive in to help’ in a difficult situation.

The ‘get’ side: what to payout

Once employees earn points through incentivised activities, you’ll need to provide appealing, meaningful rewards.

So what are your options?

First, let's talk about cash multipliers. Your incentives should always be expressed in terms of their cash value. Eg if an employee has 500 points, then can get $500 cash. But often there are alternatives to cash which are beneficial to your business. In those cases it makes sense to offer them with a multiplier, so they are preferable to your staff. Eg if business is slow, give a 2x multiplier on time off, since it costs you nothing.

  • Cash: There should always be an option to convert points to cash. In most countries, this will be taxable income, so staff will not get the face value, but still, cash is king!

  • Time off: Some staff value time off very highly, and will love an option to convert their points into paid days off. There is no tax on this (since no additional money is earned). You might expect productivity improvements from time off, so consider offering a generous multiplier for time off relative to cash.

  • Work-from-home equipment: Let your staff use their points to select additional work-from-home equipment from a provided list. This equipment should be company-owned so it’s not taxable. And since these items will be company-owned and will improve productivity, these can be given as a generous multiplier above cash. Note that this means if an employee leaves they dont get to keep the WFH equipment. Make sure this is clearly explained to avoid any disputes later!

These incentives—flexibility in time off, a more comfortable working environment at home, and cash payments—can hugely benefit staff retention. And since these rewards can be closely aligned with business success, a well-run incentive programme like this can actually be self-funding.

Example incentive program

Let's say we have a company called ABC Software. They have a sales/customer service team and want to implement a new incentive program to motivate their staff and align their efforts with business goals.

Incentivised activities (the ‘do’ side):

Customer satisfaction ratings:

  • Each positive customer feedback earns 10 points.

  • A customer service representative who receives 20 instances of positive feedback in a month earns 200 points.

Transactional activities:

  • Each completed sale earns 5 points.

  • An employee who completes 40 sales in a month earns 200 points.

Teamwork and discretionary efforts:

  • Managers award badges for instances of exceptional teamwork. Each badge earns 50 points.

  • A team member resolves a major client issue and is rewarded with the ‘Smokejumper’ badge, earning them 50 points.

The ‘get’ side: reward options


  • Employees can convert their points to cash at a rate of 1 point = $1.

  • At the end of the month, an employee with 200 points can convert them to $200 (before taxes).

Time off:

  • Alternatively, points can be converted to paid time off at a rate of 1 point = 1.5 minutes of paid time off.

  • An employee with 200 points can convert them to 5 hours of paid time off.

Work-from-home equipment:

  • Employees can also use points to choose from a list of high-quality equipment to fit out their home office.

  • A high-quality ergonomic chair, worth $300, can be redeemed for 150 points.

The combination of the above rewards—based on customer satisfaction, transactional activities, and teamwork—ensures that employees are encouraged, recognised and rewarded for their contributions toward your business goals. This approach not only boosts employee morale and retention but also aligns their efforts with yours, helping you create a thriving and cohesive remote workforce.

Final word

By closely aligning employee rewards with key business objectives, employers support a culture of high performance and collaboration, even when employees are physically separated, as many are in remote work situations.

By offering a variety of tangible, achievable reward options, such as cash, paid time off, and/or work-from-home items, employers drive business success while promoting employee satisfaction and engagement—and that’s a win-win for both the company and its remote staff.


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