How to Incentivize Your Employees without Money

People like to think that if the boss gave them a huge raise they’d work harder and be more productive. Probably not. In reality, money is a poor motivator. Financial rewards need to be substantial to actually influence an employee’s motivation. The raises and bonuses most employers give simply don’t meet the 5% to 7% threshold for employees to consider substantial.

As a business owner or manager, your budget is probably tight. You need ways to reward employees without money. It’s actually easier than you think. The most helpful tips fall under the broad idea of fostering a workplace where people are excited to be there. Follow these tips on how to motivate employees without financial incentives.

how to incentivize employees without money

1. Give employees autonomy.

No one likes a micromanager. Such a boss spends as much time and effort giving specific instructions as he or she would carrying out an assignment. This behavior is both unproductive and demotivating.

Display your trust and confidence in employees by giving them autonomy in their work. Describe the results you want to achieve, and let them determine the best way to achieve those ends. Be careful not to be too vague with your vision. Your employees need a certain amount of information to perform a task or project, so don’t leave them hanging. Once you both are on the same page about the goal, let the employee do the work.

2. Praise behavior you want repeated.

It’s startling how much people act like Pavlov’s dog. We receive a positive result from a behavior, and we want to repeat that behavior to experience the positive result again.

In a workplace context, the positive result doesn’t have to cost money. Simple acknowledgment for a job well done can be enough for some employees. When recognizing staff, draw attention to specific behaviors you want repeated. Recognize the employee in ways that are meaningful to that individual. Some people like public praise, and some crawl under a desk at the mere thought of it. Understand and remember the ways your employees prefer to be recognized.

3. Highlight the deeper purposes of the work.

No one wants to toil for hours on end just so the company owner can remodel his kitchen. Though some people don’t verbalize it, most want their jobs to have a bigger purpose. Yes, keeping the company afloat is important, but there must be a more meaningful reason to devote 40 hours per week to a job.

For instance, an apartment leasing specialist doesn’t fill apartments to meet an occupancy goal or a quarterly revenue target. This person helps people potential residents find a home that meets their wants and needs. Business goals and revenue targets are great to have but to keep people coming back to work month after month and year after year, they need to understand the deeper purposes of their work.

Create a culture.

By following these three tips, you create a culture where employees are motivated by the work they do. Paying a good wage is important, and if you aren’t, that’s a problem. Once people’s salary needs are met, pay doesn’t motivate their daily work. Focus your efforts on autonomy, recognition, and meaning to motivate employees.