No Money? No Worries! 10 Top Tips for Low-Cost Employee Motivation

Even during time of financial challenge, employee motivation need not take the back seat. In the recent economic recession, hundreds of employers faced hardships in budget cuts, employee layoffs, outsourcing, and much more. While employee recruiting and retention strategies have become difficult for human resources professionals, many are starting to find the benefits of low-cost employee motivation tools and resources that are available.

Monetary rewards are not the only successful method for improving employee motivation. According to research by Bob Nelson. Ph.D., author of 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees, one of the top ways to enrich employee loyalty is through effective team building and public acknowledgment. The following article offers 10 top ideas for employee motivation in the workplace.

Ideas for Employee Motivation

Organized from free to low-cost activities, the following list offers 10 creative ideas for motivating employees at your office.

1. Just say thank you. Praise may come in many forms, but the simplest method of all is expressing it verbally. Be sincere and genuine when you say thank you during a time of exemplary employee performance. Individuals, at times, get overlooked when the company or department is praised for an achievement. Find the opportunity to single out individuals for great work.

2. Put in more personal face time. From the day to day, managers and HR professionals in the organization can spread employee motivation by becoming more mobile in the office. Take the time to say hello to employees in the morning and get a better sense of office conversation that is going on. When you can’t be greeting employees in person, you should also make use of other communications (company emails, newsletters, group meetings, surveys, and bulletin boards).

3. Write personal notes by hand. Adding your personal touch communicates that you take the time to connect with one individual, and that you put thought and sincerity into the gesture. When an employee receives a raise, is praised for an achievement, or has a one-year anniversary with the company, take the time to write a personal note.

4. Encourage team spirit and competition. A great way for motivating employees would be to generate a sense of team pride and belonging to a group. You could start a friendly competition with a small prize awarded at the end of the day, or encourage teams to create their own banner, slogan, and name.

5. Schedule brainstorming sessions. A popular teambuilding exercise, the effective use of brainstorming sessions allows employees to feel more powerful and valuable in their roles. Host a small or large group brainstorming session to get new marketing ideas, or encourage a collaborative spirit among teams.

6. Schedule routine feedback opportunities. It is typical that performance reviews are the only time of year that employees have the chance to say what they enjoy (or don’t enjoy) about the job. Make a point to schedule more frequent sessions, either one-on-one or in small groups, to get employee feedback. This would also be a beneficial time to ask employees about the type of low-cost rewards and work incentives that they would like to see in the future.

7. Offer telecommuting as a work option. Not only does this serve as a great employee perk, but enabling telecommuting also equates to savings in electricity and other overhead costs at the office. Offering a little bit of flexibility and independence for the employee will go a long way. Telecommuting is an effective workplace perk while it is a non-verbal way of expressing trust between employer and employee.

8. Bring the fun to the workplace. There are thousands of fun and inexpensive (or free) ideas that make being at work more enjoyable. Does your company currently host an annual picnic, luncheon, or holiday party? Perhaps this is the time to consider those activities. You could spend very little by hosting a company potluck meal, where everyone signs up to bring their favorite dish. Also, you could start up a Bring Your Pet to Work Day to bring a sense of playfulness to the office.

9. Host a free breakfast/lunch. Food is a common reason for people to come together, both in their personal lives and at work. Encourage the spirit of conversation by hosting a free breakfast or lunch every month, or even just around commonly-celebrated holidays like New Year’s and Independence Day. You can stretch your dollar by bringing in donuts or pastries rather than catering.

10. Host an annual company retreat. The opportunity to host a company retreat can be a cost-effective one if done locally, for instance at a hotel conference space or other meetings venue. At times, just hosting a staff event that is off site can be effective in motivating employees and positive team building. An employee retreat is often the one time of year to collect new ideas and get a sense of new potential opportunities for growth.

As you’ll see, there are endless ways for managers to motivate employees and build employee loyalty all year long, and without spending a significant amount of money. Most of top ideas are free, and the important value they all share is the concentration on personal interaction and public recognition.

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