9 Ways to Incentivize Employees without Using Money

by: Nichole Gunn April 1, 2014

All entrepreneurs, business owners and managers think about how incentivize employees without throwing a pile of cash at them. Employees, in turn, can be motivated by things other than money. In fact, there are quite a lot of motivational techniques to employ at the workplace which will keep your employees happy, motivated and productive.

1. Give recognition

Giving your employees recognition for a job well done is a great way to motivate. When an employee sends a good work deliverable to you, respond with a thank you email, and potentially copy others in the office to show your appreciation to others on the team and to visibly show your thanks. Doing this will also motivate the others on the team to deliver similar results. You can also offer recognition while in company meetings, or run contests with trackable results visible to the entire office. Things like dinner, trophies, spa services and plaques can also be superb motivational tools.

2. Create a good work environment

Your workplace should be an enjoyable place to be. If your employees feel comfortable in their environment they’re more likely to work with dedication to the company. People typically spend 8 hours each day at their workplace, which is a significant portion of their day/year. Work must be enjoyable and if the workplace breeds a hostile environment, or even if it’s just a place where no one feels comfortable, then your employees might start looking for other jobs… a sure signal that motivation is dropping. Give enough space for private interaction of your team members. Also, put together a few social events with the team. Nothing long and drawn out, but just quick activities like dinner, going to sporting events, or bowling.

3. Make your vision clear

It’s important that your employees have a very clear understanding of your vision and the vision of the company. If you can adequately share the company vision with your employees they will feel they are a part of something bigger, which drives feelings of importance and belonging to a team. Be sure to answer questions such as ”what is the roadmap for the company?” What challenges does the management team face? How does each employee and team fit into the vision of the company?

4. Help build and develop the skillset of your team

This one seems to be a key factor in driving motivation. If you are able to help further the growth of the skillset of your employees they will feel good about themselves and their growth in relation to their career and to you. If you help employees get certifications and awards that will help them in their careers and more than likely this will drive dedication to your own organization since you are showing your involvement and proving your dedication to the success of your employees. Be sure to give your employees the chance and opportunity to grow inside your organization and utilize their new skills.

5. Get everyone involved in making decisions

Work out a plan to get all employees involved in the planning and decision making process, so that the project becomes their own personal pet as well as yours. This way they will own the project as much as you do. This also means that everyone should take part in the rewards and the pain. If you’ve seen success recently then you should celebrate as a team and if you’ve seen disappointments, share those as well.

6. Put your people first

If your employees do well, then tell them so and thank them for their hard work and dedication. Feedback is important and is also a great motivator. If your employees know when they are doing the right things vs the wrong thing, then they have a better understanding of what results are valued and can better understand their own position in the organization.Give positive feedback straight away, to further encourage great performance. Likewise, offer negative feedback right away, allowing employees to modify their habits and correct their mistakes. In a 2009 survey from McKinsey Quarterly, praise from immediate supervisors was found to be either just as important, or more important, than monetary rewards. No organization is better than the people who work for it.

7. Be fair and respectful

Use the qualities and experience that got to you where you are as a manger to create a supportive environment. Trust your team and respect their work and respect them as people and they will return the same to you. Keep in mind that no one likes to hear that they are wrong, and this can be a de-motivating factor. Your employees are not robots. Talk to them and care for them as people and not just a resource, and they will feel comfortable at work and will be more dedicated to your organization.

8. Try to make work fun

Making work fun can pay you back in spades, since people often get a lot more done when they enjoy what they are doing.

9. Implement incentive programs

It doesn’t matter the type of business you are in or the size of your business to take advantage of incentive programs. These programs have proven to be greatly beneficial in motivating employees, and one of the best parts is that the cost of the programs can be tied to employee performance and paid out upon the employee meeting pre-specified goals.
In a study by the International Society of Performance Improvement on performance improvement, it was found that incentive programs could increase employee performance by 22% in individuals, and 44% in teams. The study also found that incentive programs can attract high potential employees who are more likely to stay with the organization when incentive programs are in place.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.