6 Ways to Motivate Without Money

Posted on November 7, 2012.

Whether you call it motivation or employee engagement, everybody wants the same thing- a workforce that wants to show up and wants to give 100%.  But with incentive pools being cut and raises almost passé, what can you do?

Try one or all of these:

1.     Implement an unlimited vacation policy.  It’s a trend we’ve already seen in tech firms, and it’s catching on.  In 2011, GoHealthInsurance.com implemented an unlimited vacation policy and saw a 200% increase in growth that same year.  Believe it or not, these companies still have to encourage some folks to take time off.  Besides being a great benefit, it bestows an immediate sense of trust.

2.     Implement a wellness program.  Develop a partnership with a local gym or a chain that your virtual employees can access.  Employees can get a discounted membership. Have a contest to see who can lose the most body weight percentage or exercise the most. The award can be a weekend away. Invite nutritionists in to conduct a webinar or onsite meeting.  Plus there are companies out there that will design a program specifically for you.

3.     Provide tuition reimbursement.  Yes, this could be costly so you may need to limit the amount, but it encourages your staff to challenge themselves, and being challenged is motivating. Make sure you provide the flextime they may need to complete their school demands. 

4.     Have a contest. Maybe you can’t pay a big bonus but you can still create some competition and have some fun along the way. If you manage multiple offices, have each one come up with a video that best describes them. Encourage creativity but have some ground rules. The winning team may have lunch catered in for a week.  If your team is virtual or smaller, have a photo, art, recipe or writing contest. 

5.     Encourage volunteerism.  Let your staff have time off to volunteer at either their children’s school or a charity they feel passionate about.  Build it into their workweek. Maybe it’s 2 hours a week or one day a month.  People like to feel they can give back.

6.    Embrace Social Media.  Instead of blocking sites and pretending your employees aren’t on Twitter or Facebook, develop a social media policy and encourage people to connect with not only others on your own team, but people in other divisions. Believe me, they're connecting already, so why not encourage it within the  company.

Yes, some of these ideas will cost you money.  But the amount is significantly less than large bonuses and raises. Some ideas like  a wellness program will save you money in insurance costs. Plus you will more than make up for any cost increase with improved productivity and reduced turnover.