The late, great Paul Harvey once said, “In times like these, it is good to know. . . that there have always been times like these.” Yes, money is tight right now and yes, maybe giving raises and bonuses is out of the question. But if that is true, it begs the question: How do you motivate employees without money, or at least inexpensively?
The good news is that it may be easier than you thought; others have done it, and if they did, so can you. Consider these strategies.
1. Show appreciation. Saying thank you for a job well done is not only good manners, it also happens to be a very effective motivational strategy. A survey by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found that 68 % of employees said that being appreciated was important to their job satisfaction. So the important thing is to stop, do it, and remember that thanks can take many forms:
· It could be a hand-written notecard
· Maybe it’s getting thanked in front of the group
Really, if you think about it, the various ways to show appreciation for doing a good job is only limited by your imagination (and no, it need not cost much): A phone call from the president to a spouse, a night out with the team, an afternoon off, a gift card.
My brother works at a place where various employees who excel are entered into a drawing every day at the end of the day. The winner gets a $20 bill. $100 a week is not a lot when compared to the benefits.
2. Give recognition. The cousin to being thanked is being recognized. No one likes to toil away, competently doing their job, without others knowing and appreciating that fact. And again, there are many ways to accomplish this. Creating an “employee of the month” award may seem trite, but the fact is, it’s probably not; people want to be recognized when they do a great job. Or what about mentioning them in the company newsletter, or on the website? How about a special parking space for a week?
3. Mix it up. If boredom and repetition are two of the reasons employees lose motivation, then figure out ways to engage them. Try giving a new project that fits an employee’s areas of interest and skill, even if those skills are different than their normal work-related ones. Bette Naismith was once a lowly bank secretary, but a heck of an artist. She used those art skills to create a paint that she could use to paint over her typos. Yep, she invented Liquid Paper.
4. Ask for input. Ask for employee suggestions, and then implement the best ones. Doing so makes people feel valuable, and part of a team. The Fel-Pro Company has a yearly drawing for $1,000 for all employees who took part in the employee suggestion program.
5. Create a great culture. Making your place of employment a special place to work can be the rising tide that lifts all boats. Give everyone a paid day off on their birthday. Bring in a massage therapist once a month and give your staff complimentary 15-minute back massages. Be family-friendly.
None of these ideas cost a lot, but all would be appreciated, and appreciation equals motivation.
Bonus fact: According to Michael LeBoeuf, author of The Greatest Management Principle in the World, the Top Ten rewards for good work are: 1) Money, 2) Recognition, 3) Time Off, 4) Ownership Shares, 5) Favorite Work, 6) Promotion, 7) Freedom, 8) Personal Growth, 9) Fun, 10) Prizes.