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Can You Motivate Employees Without Money? (Hint: You Can!)

Posted by Xamax on 19/10/17 14:13

Nothing motivates employees more than an encouraging, supportive office culture. In fact, since we spend one-third of our lives working (and possibly another large fraction sleeping), employees often rate having an interesting job as more important than having a high-paying one. Whereas US statistics suggest people are happiest when they earn $75,000, the figure drops to £37,000 for those in the UK where they rate the fact that that’s the perfect salary to achieve the best work-life balance as well as less stress and responsibility. Of course, people need a baseline liveable salary, but after a certain point, more money does not equate to more happiness. Can you even motivate employees without money? The answer is, of course, you can absolutely motivate employees without money - and sometimes to better effect than if a monetary reward was used alone.

 

motivate employees without money


You may use anywhere from one to all of these suggestions at any given time, but each item in our list will motivate your employees to work well for you. Giving back to your employees in non-monetary ways encourages them by making them feel valued, noticed, and appreciated, so try implementing some of these ways to recognise employees as soon as possible.


Here’s our list of ways to motivate employees without money:

1) Praise Readily and Generously

2) Set Achievable Goals

3) Plan Company Events

4) Throw Office Games

5) Have Team Lunches

6) Remove Management from Projects

7) Allow Employees to Decorate Their Spaces

8) Offer Flexible Work Hours

9) Reward Employees with Bonus Days Off

10) Write Them A LinkedIn Recommendation

11) Parking Perks

12) Offer Room For Growth

13) Promote Internally

14) Encourage Time Off

15) Upgrade Their Job Title

16) Take Them Out to Lunch

17) Create a Rewards System

18) Autonomy

praise readily and generously

1) Praise Readily and Generously

There’s nothing more rewarding than being recognised for a job well done. Just as the psychological term for positive reinforcement suggests, praising your employees encourages them to replicate that particular behaviour in order to receive more praise. Praise readily and generously for actions big and small. If your sales team just won a big account, make a company shout out. Let people know. If your marketing team increased website traffic - even for a single day - then praise that too. If someone put forward a great idea, let everyone know. Praising is simple, yet incredibly effective and it makes everyone feel happier and more content at work.


Employees are more inclined to leave your company and work elsewhere if they feel that their work goes unnoticed and unappreciated, so make sure you let everyone know how much you value their hard work. On the other token, if an employee messes up, don’t point fingers and blame, but reframe the problem as “can you think of ways that this outcome could have been better?” Not even children like to be told off!  

 

2) Set Achievable Goals

Every employee wants to feel that his or her place in the office is valuable and valued, which means that achieving work goals is important. Set a goal - or allow employees to set goals - for each week, month, quarter, and year, and help employees reach those goals. If employees have something to work towards, they’ll be a lot more motivated than if they feel they work aimlessly day in day out with no endpoint in sight.


A goal can be as simple as making 10 sales calls a day, writing three blog posts or articles per day, sending a marketing email by the end of the week, taking five orders in the week; whichever industry you’re in, you and your employees together can set goals that will make everyone feel excited.  

company events

3) Plan Company Events

Since many people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their family, it’s important to create a family-vibe in the office, where everyone is professional and gets along. One way to encourage bonding can be to plan company events. You don’t have to rent out a huge ballroom and hold an expensive gala, but it can be as simple as having a potluck lunch, bringing in office treats on a routine basis, having a night out with your co-workers, or planning a holiday party (or a combination).


Having events - big and small - for your employees helps them feel cohesive and appreciated. It shows that you give back to those who give to you. After all, you wouldn’t have a successful company without the employees, the cogs who run the machine.


4) Throw Office Games

You don’t need full-on basketball or football tournaments to create a fun office environment. Studies show that employees perform better when they take frequent breaks. Weekly office games can create something fun for employees to look forward to each week. You can create a rotation of employees where each employee moderates a game for the week, so you can choose anything from office mini-golf to a Mario Kart challenge to darts to a quiz to a nerf gun competition (shooting plastic cans). Points can be assigned to the top three to five winners of each game, and at the end of a set period, you can assign a prize to the top three points earners. The prizes don’t have to be very expensive, but can range from a meal out to a spa weekend to an office perk - a new laptop upgrade, for example, a parking spot for a week, or a work from home pass for a fortnight.


Games create fun and healthy competition, but also provide ways for employees to bond. Plus, you’ll be known as a fun place to work because many offices simply require their workers to be cubicle robots, and that’s no fun, and it’s certainly not motivating.

team lunches

 

5) Have Team Lunches

People (most of them) love eating, and they particularly love free food. Have a team lunch once a month or even once a quarter and buy pizza in for the office or sandwiches, soup, takeaway, or any number of lunch ideas. Again, getting a perk from the office and those in management makes employees feel recognised. You can combine the team lunches with recognising employees or celebrating a company benchmark.


6) Remove Management from Projects

Putting everyone on equal footing is motivating and you can ensure the project will be done better than if you have a project manager overseeing it. When you remove the managers from projects, then you create a team of equal people who are all invested in and motivated to complete that project to the best of their ability. Sure, it’s awful to let the boss down, but it’s even worse to let the team down. Remove that upper-level component and you’ll find employees who stay late to finish bits, who work that much harder to ensure the project is successful because they are doing it for themselves and not for someone in management to take all the credit for their work.

 

allow employees to decorate their desks

7) Allow Employees to Decorate Their Spaces

Few people want to work in a grey, character-less cubicle, so allow employees to personalise their spaces. You can allow people to bring in photos of loved ones, coloured push pins for their note board, plants, decorative items, and so forth to add personality to the area in which they work daily. Having a completely clean-desk policy doesn’t work for every employee - a messy desk doesn’t always equal a messy mind - some people work better when their space looks the way they want it to look. The Association for Psychological Science notes that personal items allow workers to reduce stress levels, reduce distractions, and maintain emotional energy, especially in open office environments.


8) Offer Flexible Work Hours

When employees work the traditional 9-5, it feels impossible to get everyday life chores done. Do they need to run to the bank? It’s probably closed by the time they finish work, or they don’t have a long enough lunch break to go and come back in time, so offering flexible working hours - even if employees still work their contracted hours - can make employees feel that they have more time to do the important things they have to do. You may consider reducing work week hours, having an early Friday finish, for example, and/or giving a work time window. For example, you may say that people can come in anytime between 7am and 7pm, and, as long as they work their eight hour day, then they are free to come and go as they please. These small changes give people more autonomy over their day, and it also accounts for emergencies. If their train is late, for example, then they don’t have to worry; if they have to go to the doctor, pick up their car from the garage, get an MOT, do the shopping, or take their child to school, they have the freedom to do that, so you may have an employee who works 8am to 4pm sometimes and 7am to 3pm other days, or they may even choose to work 9am to 6pm if it means every other day they can leave an hour early.


What you’ll find if you’re flexible with hours is that your employees will be generally less stressed and happier because they can control their day. It teaches employees time management and workload management too. Just because someone puts in a twelve-hour day doesn’t mean those hours are productive. Studies show that people who work in countries with fewer working hours are actually more productive than more workaholic nations; in fact, those who worked six-hour days were most productive of all with more energy to create personal happiness by having time for their own projects.   

reward with bonus days off

9) Reward Employees with Bonus Days Off

Along the same lines of flexible work hours, rewarding employees with bonus days off can help recharge their batteries to be more productive overall. What better motivation to work hard than to know you can work a four day week once a month or once a fortnight? You can create a day-off rewards system to reward employees with this motivating perk. You can have people draw a random day of the week to ensure that everyone isn’t simply taking Fridays and Mondays off as well, or that people aren’t all taking their days off at the same time.


10) Write Them A LinkedIn Recommendation

Professional development is important to employees, so writing them a LinkedIn recommendation is the ultimate thank you for their hard work and time, and it’s another way of publicly recognising their hard work.


11) Parking Perks

Offering free parking is a huge perk that may help with employee retention as well as motivate employees overall. Parking, depending on your office location, can often be an expensive drawback of working for employees, so offering a free parking space as a reward for a month, or even paying for a yearly parking pass can bring great returns for employees. Consider the costs of paying for company-wide parking and weigh it against the multitude of benefits of keeping your employees happy.

Two  colleages discussing ideas using a tablet and computer.jpeg

12) Offer Room For Growth

Few employees want to see themselves in the same spot five years from now, so it’s important that your company understands each employee’s goals and offer room for growth. Encourage employees to grow with you in meaningful ways. Is an employee hoping to get a promotion? Help provide ways they can take on more work or provide professional development so they can achieve what they want to achieve. Growth doesn’t always have to come in terms of promotion (which is often money-motivated as well as ambition-driven). Growth can simply mean that you may pay for a training program - or provide some free training in-house - for employees to learn something that will benefit them in their careers. There are a multitude of seminars available to help the employees grow who want to grow. Get to know your employees and their goals.


13) Promote Internally

It is often motivating for employees to understand that you try to promote internally before looking for external candidates. Promoting internally can help employees have goals to reach for as well, and promoting those who already know your company and may understand this more senior role (or even a side-stepping role) more thoroughly than an outside candidate can help with motivation and productivity. Promoting internally also allows employees to know that you recognise their hard work, and see when they have grown and can be rewarded. Both The Wall Street Journal and Forbes report how promoting internally is more beneficial for your company.

encourage time off

14) Encourage Time Off

Even The Harvard Business Review notes that those who take more time off are more productive overall. It’s a misconception that the person who works until 9pm everyday is more productive than the girl in accounting who dashes out of the office at 5.01pm. Those who work overtime and never take time off get sick more often, they suffer from burnout, and they may suffer from poor time management (because they can’t get their work done in their designated hours - which may mean you need to hire more people). Time off also provides mental clarity because everyone’s brains work constantly and an overstretched brain is not the most efficient kind. Plus, conversely, those who never take time off are often passed over for promotions over their holiday-loving counterparts, and not taking your paid holiday means employees are essentially working for free on those extra days, which designates employees who do not value their own personal time.  

upgrade their job title

15) Upgrade Their Job Title

If your company has shifted around and an employee has taken on more responsibility, why not reward that employee with an upgraded job title? The new title doesn’t have to come with a pay rise, but it can boost employee morale as you make that person’s role more important.


16) Take Them Out to Lunch

One way to show employee appreciation and motivate them is to take a random employee out to lunch each week. You don’t have to share this idea with the office or even let employees know you’re doing it, but it’ll be a great way to understand those who work for you, and the individual attention will motivate top-performing employees and general employees because it shows they are recognised and not invisible. You may turn an oft-forgotten employee into a superstar with a little recognition and a free sandwich!  


17) Create a Rewards System

A rewards system doesn’t have to be monetary, but you can create a system that motivates your employees to reach goals. It may be something small like a bag of Maltesers they can win to a stay in a hotel to a city-getaway, or a meal at the local gastropub. Any little perks and rewards go a long way to recognising and motivating those who work for you.

autonomy


18) Autonomy

People do their best work when they aren’t shackled to innumerable policies. Policies don’t keep people in line, they simply make employees feel trapped. If you want to motivate your employees, give them autonomy. Netflix did so by allowing unlimited holidays with the understanding they could take off as much time as they like as long as it didn’t hurt their careers or company productivity. That, of course, is an extreme example, but if employees feel ownership of their careers, they’re more likely to excel. If you find that your employees aren’t performing, it’s best not to make the rules tighter, thus, punishing those who can work productively in a more freeing environment; it’s better to find people who thrive on flexibility.


Another way to create both autonomy and cohesion is to have a company uniform policy. Abolish the suits and the stiff collars in favour of a more freeing, casual atmosphere. Surprisingly, those who can wear their trainers to work perform better than those wearing uncomfortable business shoes; however, it’s important you allow employees to wear what makes them most comfortable. Some people like a power suit and others do not. It’s all about freedom and autonomy. It’s the most vital point on the list and will give you and your employees the mosts returns without spending a single penny.



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