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4 Ways to Motivate Employees Without Budgeting Bigger Salaries

As a business owner, your employees are your team, and you are their team captain. Your job is to help them be as productive as possible both individually and as a unit, and that means motivating them to strive for greatness through enhanced personal performance and collaboration.

One way to motivate is with monetary incentives like salary increases and bonuses – but that’s not the only, or even necessarily the best way. That’s good news, because you may not always be able to fit financial rewards into your budget.

The right non-monetary incentives motivate employees just as effectively because they allow your team to work for benefits that improve their work life and morale. 

You know your employees and what they do best – but do you know what really inspires them to give their all? To help you find out, here are five non-monetary motivational techniques to consider.

1. Engage your employees in the incentive process.

If you already have ideas about what motivates your employees, great. Write them down and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. If you don’t, ask your employees what kinds of rewards they would like through brainstorm meetings, surveys, a suggestion box or questions in periodic employee reviews. Encourage them to get creative and think outside the box. Then use the employee feedback to create clear goals they can shoot for that will ultimately raise your business’ bottom line. When you make employees partners in this process, you communicate value for their contributions, which will itself motivate them to participate in the incentive program.


2. Recognize good work.

Communication is the key to an effective incentive program because employees need to know what they can do to succeed. This involves a two-step communication process. First, be clear and transparent about how employees can win rewards with a written plan. Objectives and goals may vary by individual position, department or work team. Second, when someone does something well, reward them with public recognition, whether it’s a company-wide email, a shout-out in a meeting, a party, or something more substantial like an enhanced job title (for instance, “Senior” or “Lead” in front of their current role).


3. Provide perks and privileges.

People’s daily work-life quality is important to them, and they will work harder and smarter when their workdays more pleasurable and rewarding. Leverage the power of “workstyle” benefits like the chance to earn work-from-home days, preferred parking spots, extra-long lunches, or the opportunity to spend more time on tasks they like. As an added bonus to your business, when employees enjoy their work more, they are more productive: a win-win for everyone.


4. Offer a chance to learn desired skills.

When people perform the same work tasks day-in and day-out, they get stuck in a rut. They can dig themselves so deep into routine and boredom that they become less motivated and less creative and dissatisfied with their jobs. This leads to lowered productivity and even higher turnover. Turn this downward trajectory around by rewarding exceptional employees with time during the workday to learn new skills that appeal to them. This will enhance their job satisfaction, improve their output and increase the abilities that you can call on to boost your business.


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Employee motivation is a two-way street. When your team is more engaged and effective, you become a better team leader. And it doesn’t always take money to help people fulfill their potential; just some time, effort and organization on your part.

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