4 Retail Staff Incentives That Actually Work

bookstore catNow that the holidays are over, 'tis the season to keep up your sales numbers and move inventory in creative ways. Motivate your people with these four retail staff incentives they'll actually care about.

1. Discounts. Giving your staff a merchandise discount is a classic way to show appreciation and it's typically easy for business owners to implement. If you already have a staff discount program in place, try setting an extra special discount day for them if they reach a particular goal together or extend a one-day friends and family discount.

2. Friendly competition. And then there's the opposite of teamwork, which can work just as well too. Whether it's a day-long blitz or a monthly contest, make the competition fun and give it personality. A major grand prize never hurts, but don't let the reward be the focus. Bob Marsh, the CEO of LevelEleven, notes, "While it can help incentivize employees to participate by offering a high-end product (e.g., a nice watch) or experience (e.g., a trip to Hawaii), we’ve seen employees become just as invested in sales competitions with prizes as basic as a Starbucks gift card. That’s because competition itself is a strong motivator."

3. Free food. In the spirit of National Pie Day (which really is today), cut your staff a piece of the pie... literally. Doesn't matter if it's blueberry or pizza pie, but sponsoring a bite together at the end of a long sales push can be a simple, sweet (or cheesy) reward. As any sixth grade teacher knows, pizza parties get things done.

4. Personal time. Don't underestimate the power of a day off. Not only will your employees love you for rewarding them with something they can actually use (rather than another water bottle with your shop's logo on it), but studies show that they'll come back more productive and refreshed. The Atlantic reports: "The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles told ABC News. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out."