10 ways to motivate staff without a pay rise


How do you keep your employees motivated and create advocates for your business if you can’t afford to give a pay rise? Well, it turns out that money isn’t everything when it comes to motivation, and data consistently shows that employees want their employers to support their health and personal development, as well as help them make their salaries go further. 

10 ways to motivate staff without a pay rise

1. Simply say thank you

Everyone likes to feel like they’re doing a good job. Giving people a pat on the back for going above and beyond their normal day-to-day goes a very long way towards keeping employees engaged, loyal and motivated. Recognition doesn’t always have to be financial. A thank you can go a long way.  Saying it publicly via a recognition platform gives employees even more kudos. If you do want to give a reward of some kind then consider something different like an extra day off, or a team lunch.

2. Help employees understand their contribution

First, ensure that their objectives relate to the overall goals of the business and then let them see how they are contributing to success through regular feedback. In many organisations, employees don’t understand what the goals are and certainly don’t see how they fit in with meeting them. 

Give your team some clarity on the goals and get everyone motivated and working together to achieve them.

3. Look at their working environment

From the tools you give them to do the job to the way the office looks and feels, the working environment can be a huge demotivating factor. Most employees will be at work for at least seven hours a day, so make it a place they want to come to every day and be proud of.

Is the paint on the walls peeling off, does the kitchen need a bit of an update, are the chairs they sit on giving them back problems, does the office need a good tidy up? Carry out an audit and see where you could get the quickest wins. It’s often the simple things that make the difference.

4. Give them autonomy

Everyone likes to be treated as an adult and with respect. If you know an employee has the skills to do the job, (after all, that’s why you hired them right?) then set clear objectives and let them get on with it. Don’t micro-manage and expect them to be happy about it. For those that show a propensity to move on and up within your organisation, consider giving them the time and the opportunities to master their skills with self-directed online training or subsidised courses.

5. Live and breathe your values

Make sure that your company’s values are at the heart of the organisation and everything you do. This builds trust and integrity and motivates employees to want to do well for the business. Plus, make sure you recognise publicly any employee for supporting the values that you represent. 

Recognition platforms linked to company values help reinforce the behaviours you want to see and encourages these to be repeated by the individual and their colleagues, so that in turn, you’re developing an organisation that is motivated by its values and behaviours.

6. Create a collaborative culture and a sense of community

Get to know your employees and encourage communities off the back of that. What do they like doing in their spare time? Do they have a family? Do they play any sports? Also, peer-to-peer recognition programmes, empowering individuals to recognise each other for going the extra mile, makes for happy, bonded teams and encourages a strong, positive, supportive culture and a motivated workforce with a collaborative way of working.

7. Flexible working

Mobile and remote working is becoming the new norm as we seek a better work/life balance. Flexible working, holiday trading and work-from-home days are increasingly straightforward policies to adopt, while studies add weight to the value employees place on flexibility in their day and the impact on company performance. 

Alicia Aldis, operations director at You at Work says: “We recently introduced flexible working for our customer service team. With technology it’s now possible to do almost any job from home, and gives our employees the opportunity to spend less time travelling and more time with their families.”

8. Support their health and wellbeing

Supporting employee wellbeing fosters increased loyalty as workers feel valued, while healthy staff are happier in the workplace and more motivated to do a good job. Also, there is less demand (and stress) on colleagues having to cover the work of absent staff.

Consider offering a selection of health and wellbeing benefits including an employee assistance programme. Also, look at how you can address the financial wellbeing of your employees with consolidated loans or financial education. Health and wellbeing initiatives can reinforce your values and provide the competitive edge over your rivals in the war for talent.

9. Offer salary sacrifice benefits and discounts

Help employees’ pay go further by providing them with a range of specially negotiated benefits through salary sacrifice, such as a green car scheme, dental insurance, healthcare cash plan, health screening and cycle-to-work schemes to name a few.

Give staff access to an array of discounts that help them with their everyday spending, from eating out to supermarket shopping to DIY. Do make sure you communicate the benefits on a regular basis though and show employees exactly how to make the most of the benefits and discounts on offer.

10. Give them an experience they will remember

What’s going to make day-to-day life easier for your staff? And, what new experiences can you give them, something they haven’t done before that can still be done at work? The former could centre around ‘chores’, for example, having the local dry cleaners provide a collection service, or onsite haircuts. The latter could be the more interesting ideas. Indian head massages or street food days that give new experiences and re-enforce your brand. Also consider offering opportunities to volunteer, such as a day off to work in a homeless shelter.

Forbes’ Employee Engagement vs Employee Experience (2018) research reveals that employees committed to their organisations put in 57 per cent more effort than disengaged staff and are 87 per cent less likely to leave. More and more employees expect continuous feedback and development, as well as reward, and will be motivated to work hard and stay with employers who can deliver this for them, despite the lack of a pay rise.

The author is Neil Bowen, commercial director from You at Work.

This article was provided by You at Work.


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