10 Low-Cost Ways to Motivate Employees

By Katherine Muniz
March 22, 2018

If you’ve read our article on 10 free ways to motivate employees, you’ll know that motivating employees doesn’t have to come with a price tag. However, if you are willing to splash a little cash, you’ll find that these “almost” money-free ways to motivate employees can open up a realm of possibilities.

Here are suggestions provided by HR experts and leaders on how to pay it forward:

1. When they go the extra mile, comp their expenses

“If someone goes above and beyond – working on a weekend, over a holiday, etc., make sure you cover their food and transportation costs that day and, if you can, reward them with an extra vacation day (or half-day) as a thank you for giving the company extra time,” says Meg Hughes, HR Consultant, Gray Scalable. “It’ll show them that you value their ability to refresh as much as their willingness to work hard.”

2. Reward them with double time

This is a bit of a cheeky suggestion (and not necessarily what you might think). “For an entire week, double the time of their breaks, double their lunch break, dinner break, coffee break, any and all breaks they take throughout the day,” suggests Daniel Freschi, President of EDGE, a leadership development partner. To stave off worries of a reduced paycheck, pay for the extended breaks as a reward.

3. Provide flex scheduling options

“The best thing an employer can offer to genuinely motivate and reward employees is to design and implement schedule options,” says Rachel T. Kenyon, a Bookkeeper at Kenyon Services. “With seniority, consider offering 4-day work weeks, abbreviated Fridays, or staggered start times. Reward a reliable employee by proving you appreciate the uniqueness of their life outside of the office.”

4. Increase PTO hours

“Handing out extra time-off that can be bundled and used for a half-day or full-day is a reward that we can promise will be in high demand,” says Content Marketer Amity Kapadia. “Also, increasing holiday allowance per year of service rewards staff for their loyalty and means you get a real commitment.”

5. Express gratitude with a low-cost gift

“Whether its specialty beans from the Kona coast or a simple Starbucks gift card; the gift of caffeine is usually a welcome one,” suggests Kapadia. Not a coffee drinker? “Offer unique teas or a trip to a juice bar instead.” Movie tickets, office swag, custom gifts, VIP parking, and even Uber or Lyft credits are some of her other suggestions.

6. Create a fun planning team

“Consider creating a committee of staff members to discuss potential team-building activities,” says Robin Schwartz, Managing Partner of MFG Jobs. “Provide the committee a small budget per fiscal year in order for them to carry out potential activities or rewards. Team building activities should reward the employees as much as they engage them to interact with their co-workers.”

7. Take them out for lunch

“Take your employees out for lunch and let them pick the location,” says Freschi. “Do your best to keep discussion professional, but not focused on work. Take this time to get to know more about what your employees are interested in, their hobbies, and career goals.”

8. Thank their Family

If you’re indebted to your employees for all their hard work and dedication, thanking their family is a thoughtful gesture that will touch them. “Write and send a thank you card to the employee’s entire family sharing details about how much you appreciate them,” suggests Freschi. “Take it to the next level and send flowers or candy.”

9. Plan an outing

“Just by organizing a happy hour or bowling night outside the office is half of the reward,” says Schwartz. However, to really make it fun, allow them to leave work a little early to participate. “The cost of allowing employees to take a few hours off of work is minimal compared to the return a company could see with engaged employees.”

10. Focus on wellness

“The market is competitive at the minute, there are too many jobs and not enough candidates,” says Michael Tillyer, Director of ST Resourcing. “Companies have to offer competitive, non-monetary compensation packages if they want to retain or attract talent.” Focusing on fitness/wellness (such as by offering gym memberships), “shows you care about their health and healthy employees mean less sick days and better customer service,” says Tillyer.

Employees work harder knowing that they’re part of an enterprise that celebrates their successes, rewards their hard work, and appreciates the value they bring to the team.

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