When coming to the end of the year, few things are nicer than finding you still have money leftover in your incentive budget. But before moving on to your next task, ensure that this money is working its hardest for you. This extra money can still be a valuable means of making your team feel appreciated while keeping your business’s objectives in mind. Below you’ll find five innovative ways to utilize the leftover funds.

Put a Deposit Down for Next Year’s Incentive Program

It may seem tempting to use this money toward incentives that you can give out immediately. However, keep in mind the higher success rates associated with non-spendable incentives, such as travel. The Incentive Research Foundation reports that non-spendable incentives are 50% to 150% more likely to result in employees’ retention, satisfaction, and performance than incentive programs that are cash only.1 Likewise, findings by the Incentive Travel Council and the Site International Foundation have revealed that over 95% of employees feel more motivated by travel incentives than by increased pay!2 For more on the benefits of travel incentives refer see here. If you haven’t already put down a deposit for next year’s trip, this would be a great use of your budget’s excess. Putting down a deposit is a vital step in planning one of the best things you can do for the morale of your team.

Create Small End of Year Morale Boosters

If planning next year’s trip is already well underway, consider these smaller ways to make your staff feel valued:

  • Treat your staff by bringing in lunch – without working through it! This is a classic way of showing care for your team. Who doesn’t like a free lunch?
  • Recognize each employee’s strengths with a personalized note and a small gift.
  • Run a team building exercise where staff can relax and have fun together. It could be as simple as a bowling or trivia night.
  • Organize a family night. After the many late nights, long days many employees spend away from their families, why not show some thanks not just to them but to their families as well.  Plan an afternoon at the local cinema complete with popcorn or plan an indoor activity at the local zoo – on you!

Generate Small Scale Incentives to Meet Year End Goals

Running short-term incentives is a fun way for employees to get excited about putting in the extra push at the end of the year when they might be tempted to go on autopilot. Be sure to keep the atmosphere light and fun. Publicly recognize employees as they meet goals, awarding them with gift cards or small cash prizes.

Use Incentives to Clear Out Old Inventory

Are there some items you are looking to get off the shelves? Consider running a promotion on these items coupled with small cash or merchandise incentives for employees as they make the sales. This will be an excellent way of motivating your staff and making room for new inventory.

Offer Support to Another Department

As you look to strengthen your team don’t forget the role that other departments play in making for a healthy and efficient work dynamic.

If another department has assisted you–whether the IT department or administrative support team–consider recognizing them with a thank-you gift.

Take time to meet with another department. You may be able to aid them in their end of year objectives. For example, if your HR department has a specific goal such as a wellness program, you may be able to help them motivate workers.


When used wisely, the excess in your budget can aid in creating an environment where employees are motivated to bring the best of themselves to work. When your staff is feeling both valued and challenged you will see an increase in loyalty and in revenue.

Looking for ways to motivate your employees? Contact Gavel International to learn how travel incentives can strengthen your team’s morale.