Guidelines: Incentives for Health Professionals


International Council of Nurses

Publication details

Publication date: 2008


Intended users:

Professional associations.


These 41 pages of guidelines provide an overview of the use of incentives for the retention and recruitment of health care professionals.

While rather text-heavy, it contains many useful bulleted lists and an example of an approach to developing an incentive package. It describes some of the different approaches taken and presents characteristics shared by effective incentive schemes. The guidelines suggest some approaches to their development and implementation. Financial incentives alone are not sufficient to retain and motivate health workers. Research has confirmed that non-financial incentives play an equally crucial role.

Effective incentive schemes typically share the following characteristics:

  • have clear objectives;
  • are realistic and deliverable;
  • reflect health professionals’ needs and preferences;
  • are well designed, strategic and fit-for-purpose;
  • are contextually appropriate;
  • are fair, equitable and transparent;
  • are measurable; and
  • incorporate financial and non-financial elements.