People are motivated by different things in life. One of those things happens to be cold hard cash. Providing bonuses to your employees is a way to incentivize them to work harder. This leads to greater productivity and a better bottom line for the products that your company buys or sells.
In many industries, employees continuously need to take courses or seminars to update their skills. Instead of giving someone a check, offer to pay for his tuition to take those classes. Set a goal he must reach. It might be a total number of sales or a certain period of time he is with the company. Then when he reaches that goal, allow him to sign up for the courses you are going to pay for from the business. This might include finishing college, obtaining a master's degree or taking new courses to maintain accreditation in your field.
Many businesses rely on computers. If your employee has a computer at work and at home, you can buy her a laptop. This way, she can use the computer while she is on the road. Additionally, she does not have to share a computer at home with the rest of her family. Computers make a nice bonus gift for someone's birthday or at holiday time. If you are buying a multitude of computers, look for a bulk discount from the manufacturer.
Set up a contest among the employees in your office. For example, if you are in a sales-based business, offer a $500 bonus at the end of each week for the person who sells the most product or closes the most deals. As the week wears on, people will become more competitive, trying to be the top earner. If you want to spread the bonuses around, you can also offer a reduced first prize and additional prizes for second and third places. You can make a rule that someone can win only three times. This will level the playing field with new employees who do not have the client rosters of more seasoned professionals.
Select a local city or desirable vacation destination that is an hour or two from where your office is located. Offer a weekend away where the winning party gets two nights stay in a hotel, brunch both mornings and a bottle of champagne to enjoy in the room. You can get a better rate by contacting the hotel to say that you are going to be giving this bonus to multiple parties in your company. You also can make this a contest-type bonus or simply give it to everyone during a special occasion such as the company picnic or the holidays.
Another way to determine bonuses for employees is to set a sales-to-bonus ratio. For example, if you are in a commission-based business, such as selling cars, houses or even sunglasses, offer an employee a bonus based on his total sales. The advantage is that the employee will work hard to get the bonus and you as the employer know the amount you will have to pay because it is a fixed cost. You can then make a line item in your budget based on projected sales. For example, if you agree to a 1 percent bonus for your car salesman, and he sells $1 million worth of cars, you know that you will need to pay him $10,000 at the end of the year.