Skip to main content
Start of menu
Search Singapore website
Close Menu
Customer Service
Marketing Budget
Cost Efficiencies
Human Resources

Apply for the Card now!
10 Non-Cash Ways To Motivate

Hard cash is not the only way to reward staff. A good recognition reward system makes for happy workers. Happy employees make productive employees. Productive employees make for good business.

Keeping your staff happy and motivated can be an integral component to the success of your business, at any stage. When you reward employees for a job well done, you set a precedent for continued performance and performance is directly linked to profit. This is why many successful businesses put time and effort into mounting a good recognition and reward system. In one sentence: it ensures your business' future success.

Easier said than done? Perhaps. For small and medium sized businesses that are just starting out, it is easy to lose sight of this fact, particularly when there are so many other things to consider. What's more, many entrepreneurs are still stuck in the old economy notion that money is the only viable reward, and thus feel, that they should focus first on profit before people.

While it's certainly true that cold hard cash is a strong motivator, this does not mean that business managers have no other means at their disposal. Any business should try to ensure that the salaries it pays are fair and adequate. Profit sharing systems or stock option plans are both effective approaches to ensuring performance. Nonetheless, remuneration isn't the only factor that will motivate people to do the best work they can do. There are other ways to reward good work.

If you really want to keep your employees happy and motivated, rewarding them should take place more frequently than just once or twice a year. Below are 10 ways to strengthen your human resource:

Extra Vacation Time

When a prospective employee for a company negotiates his package, leave time is often the second most important thing on his wish-list. This makes it a very attractive reward to employees. A manager who extends this kind of reward communicates the message that they want their staff to have rest and recuperation. From the point of view of the business, one or two extra vacation days can't matter that much in the long run, particularly in the case of a staff member who has delivered an exceptional performance.

More Autonomy

The truth is, some people work best when they're left alone with minimal supervision. A simple expression of confidence in an employee such as, "You've done such a good job! From now on, go ahead and work independently!" accomplishes two things in a single stroke. As a manager, you are showing your confidence in the employee - something that all employees work to gain. You are also freeing him to do more for the company. Autonomy and independence are great ennablers of innovation and performance. Furthermore, people tend to appreciate freedom and independence as valuable attractive attributes, especially in a traditionally procedure-oriented workplace.

First Pick Of Assignments Or Projects

A high performer deserves to have a choice in the range of products open to him. This cannot be considered as anything else but a reward. As manager, you are demonstrating your satisfaction regarding his work by giving him freedom of choice. Reluctance to reward staff in this manner for fear that they may always choose "the easy" assignment is narrow-minded and simplistic. If the employee does consistently good work, this will not necessarily be his criterion for choice. On the other hand, choosing the "fun" job should be his prerogative - for so long as this reward is deserved. Bear in mind that people who enjoy their work do their work well.


As rewards go, this option takes the flexible time schedule one step further. In this day and age of total accessibility via phone, fax and email, the work-from-home system is a viable reward system. Depending, of course, on the nature of the job and business, giving staff the option of working from home effectively motivates them, boosts overall morale, makes them feel positive about their company and ultimately, increases productivity.


Job titles are not so much a function of pay-scales in smaller companies as they are in large companies. In other words, rewarding an exceptional employee with the official title of "director", "manager" or "supervisor" can be a meaningful, relevant way of saying, "Well-done!" It also makes the employee feel like an integral, indispensable part of your team. The title need not have a corresponding pay adjustment, though perhaps a small bonus or a token gift would be a welcome enhancement.

Team Rewards

When the team does well, it is appropriate to reward the whole team. This can be done in any number of ways from a party, a lunch or dinner out, or closing down for one day. This kind of reward fosters a keen sense of teamwork. It also communicates to your staff that yours is a company that not only values performance but also rewards it accordingly.

Monthly Rewards

Set up a monthly award system that depends on both behavior and outcome. Larger companies make use of such things as "The Employee of The Month" Award. Make sure that criteria is defined so that that everyone knows what is required to win. Prizes may simply be certificates of recognition for a job well done. Involving your staff in the design and planning of a monthly awards system also ensures that it is meaningful to them.

Public and Personal Recognition

All that anyone wants is to be recognized for the good work that they do. This can be as simple as writing an employee a letter to tell him how pleased you are about the job he's done, and posting it on a bulletin board or office newsletter or email for all to see. Frequently, what is important to workers are intangibles such as being appreciated.

Rewards provide a healthy positive environment for employees. What's more, the warmth of the personal touch further enhances this. A thank you phone call can be more meaningful than a thank you memo: so why not do both?

A Venue For Their Voice

Reward employees by allowing them to have their say, to contribute their ideas and to share their opinions. Many workers, especially at starting levels, don't feel they have a right to say their piece or to voice their opinion. When you give them a venue for that, they feel important and valued by you. What's more, they may surprise you with ideas that can actually benefit the business as a whole. Listen and give credit accordingly.


Staff members feel motivated to work harder when they are given information and when they understand what's going on. Often, in smaller work environments, it is easy for employees to get stuck in just his own patch of green. As employer, you can reward your staff by giving them periodic updates about the big picture: the triumphs and the losses. This is a meaningful way of motivating them to continue to do their best.

In business, as in any other field, it's he people who count. People and profit go hand in hand. This is what makes for success.

(This article was contributed by Christopher Lai, Director-Head of Business Development, CSG, American Express International Inc.)

  • Facebook - Link will open in a new window

Copyright © 2020 American Express Company. Users of this site agree to be bound by American Express Web Site Rules and Regulations. American Express International, Inc.(UEN S68FC1878J), Incorporated with limited liability in the state of Delaware, USA with a place of business at 10 Marina Boulevard #15-00, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2, Singapore 018983.