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  • Writer's pictureVrunda Chauk

7 Ways To Motivate Your Employees With Little Or No Money

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

When it comes to employee motivation, employers need to think beyond the paycheck. Sure, wages are important, but they’re not the only thing that drives employees to do their best work.

It is no secret that employees are the backbone of any successful organization. They are the ones who carry out the day-to-day tasks and functions that keep the business running. Without them, the company would quickly grind to a halt. This makes it all the more important to ensure that employees are motivated at work. A motivated workforce is a productive and innovative workforce, which is essential for any business to succeed. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 79% of employees say that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

How to motivate employees at work

The types of motivation - Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Money is important for the short term incentive - its impact do not last long and has very little impact on highly cognitive work (where you need creativity and analytical power). Instead, intrinsic motivation refers to actions that are driven by internal rewards. Rewards that are determined by our brain and how we process the satisfaction of the task accomplished.

The triggers of intrinsic motivation are: how much I can decide how to do a task (autonomy), Would the task have a positive impact on others (purpose) and am I challenging myself to do better than before (mastery).

Studies show that other factors such as recognition, appreciation, and a sense of accomplishment are much more powerful motivators than money.

Actions to motivate employees tapping into their intrinsic motivation

Here are some easy to implement actions to help motivate employees:

1. Show appreciation for good work.

Make sure to let your employees know when they do a good job. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in making them feel appreciated. You can also give them symbolic forms of rewards to show that you value their contributions. Publicly recognize your employees’ successes, whether it’s at an all-company meeting or in a company-wide email. This will not only make them feel good, but it will also inspire others to strive for similar success.

2. Offer opportunities for growth and development.

Employees who feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job will quickly become unmotivated. On the other hand, employees who have opportunities to grow and develop within their company are much more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. So make sure you offer your employees opportunities for career advancement. Offer them training and development programs, as well as opportunities to take on new assignments and responsibilities. This will help them in career growth and they will feel motivated to give their best at work. Employees seek personal growth and therefore it's a good idea to provide them on-site training sessions, mentoring and coaching sessions from leaders in the organisation.

3. Encourage open two ways communication.

Communicate expectations and provide feedback. Be clear about what you expect from employees and give them regular feedback on their performance. This way, they’ll know exactly what they need to do to meet your expectations and they’ll feel appreciated when they receive positive feedback. Encourage your employees to communicate openly with you about their ideas, concerns, and suggestions. When they feel like their voices are being heard in a psychological safe environment, they will be more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their work.

4. Enable teamwork, make them count on each other.

Teamwork is a great way to motivate employees because it fosters a sense of cooperation and accomplishment. When employees work together towards a common goal, they feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves and they’re more likely to be motivated to do their best work. Working with a team also gives a sense of meaning and belonging. Being a part of a team encourages employees to develop trust and rely on each other.

5. Allow autonomy, let them have a choice.

There is a lot of research that suggests that employees are more motivated when they feel like they have some control over their work. This can manifest itself in different ways, but one common way is giving employees some autonomy over their work schedule. For example, rather than dictating when someone should be physically in the office, you could allow them to decide for themselves. Other ways to promote autonomy at work include allowing employees to choose which tasks they want to work on, and giving them the freedom to experiment with new ideas.

6. Set inspiring goals.

To achieve the organizational targets, it is a good idea to break it down into smaller goals that one can achieve. Being able to accomplish goals gives a sense of achievement and a boost of happiness. Help your employees set goals for themselves, and then provide the resources and support they need to reach those goals. Employees often get bored when their jobs are too easy or too repetitive. Employees perform at their best when they are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

7. Cultivate a healthy workplace environment.

Employees are more likely to be motivated if they enjoy coming to the office. Studies show that there are low rates of absenteeism in a positive workplace environment. Make your office an enjoyable place to work and one where your employees want to spend time. At the workplace, employees should be able to relax and take a break from work as and when needed. They should also be able to create a distraction free space for themselves to focus on their work. There should be plenty of natural light and resources to get the work done. It is important to encourage healthy attitudes among employees by offering healthy snacks.

When it comes to employee motivation, one size does not fit all. What works for one person may not work for another. The key is to find what motivates each employee and then create a work environment that supports that. Employees who feel like they have a say in how they do their work are more likely to be motivated than those who feel like they're just following orders.

What are your plans to boost employee motivation at your workplace?


Vrunda Chauk

Behavioral Psychologist

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