Low-Cost Employee Motivation Ideas
Today's job market is extremely competitive, with the ball in the job seeker's court. The low unemployment rate of 4.9% indicates the fact that both candidates and your current employees will have the flexibility to consider several employment opportunities. From a recruitment perspective, this means that you will need to bulk up your employer branding efforts and ensure that strategies are in place to attract top talent. On the other hand, you also will need to identify and implement ways to retain your current, high performing employees. Large organizations with robust HR teams and six or seven-figure budgets typically develop ways to keep employees on-board with trips, premium benefits, and high-valued perks. However, there are several ways to keep your employees motivated and engaged, even when there are stringent budget constraints in place.
Enhance Communication And Acknowledgement
1. Get Leadership Involved
Employees typically value 'face-time' with senior leadership, especially those actively seeking the opportunity to move forward in their careers. Partner with executives and the CEO to schedule interactive meetings in which employees can speak with and get to know the leadership team. Encourage leaders to speak about the strategic goals and initiatives of the company in a manner that excites and motivates employees. Bridging the gap between the employee population and the decision makers reinforces organizational transparency.
2. Ask For Feedback
Show employees that you value their perspectives by requesting feedback regarding the organization. Employees are on the 'ground floor' and are the most familiar with the impact of organizational procedures and opportunities for improvement. Elicit feedback from employees to gain critical insight on ways to improve the workplace. When speaking with employees, be sure to clearly state that all opinions and feedback are valuable and will be considered, however not everything discussed will be implemented. When suggestions are in fact leveraged to improve policies or processes, be sure to share the fact that updates were made based on employee recommendations.
3. Express Gratitude
A simple 'thank you' goes a long way; leverage holidays such as Thanksgiving to acknowledge the contributions and hard work of your employees. When expressing gratitude, be specific and correlate organizational success with the value added by the workforce. Many organizations do employee spotlights throughout the year. This is another way to highlight the accomplishments, dedication and hard work of employees that have gone above and beyond the scope of their roles to impact the company. Consider utilizing your company's intranet or newsletter to publicize the spotlight and encourage the CEO or another member of the leadership team to reach out and thank the employee directly.
Make The Workplace Fun
1. Start Friendly Competitions
Enhance collaboration and team cohesion by introducing competitions and contests. Depending upon your organization's business model, this can be tied to reaching a goal or milestone. If you plan on engaging cross functional teams with very different responsibilities, level the playing field by introducing a neutral competition, such as a fundraiser or community-service related challenge. If you are looking for a low risk option with minimal logistics, consider a fitness or trivia challenge; there are several free websites available that will alleviate all of the planning typically associated with weight loss and trivia competitions. The friendly nature of these team challenges will certainly enhance morale and provide additional opportunities for team building.
2. Reward Hard Work With Gift Cards
In addition to recognizing the contributions of high performing employees, consider giving gift cards as a demonstration of gratitude. Your workforce is typically aware of budget constraints and limited financial resources, therefore this small gesture will likely be well received. If you are purchasing a gift card for a specific employee, add a personal touch by speaking with his or her manager or colleagues to gain insight into favorite stores. Gift cards are as good as cash, and providing them to employees from time to time will certainly result in increased motivation.
3. Offer Paid Time Off
A great alternative to bonuses is offering employees additional paid time off. Recognize significant employee contributions by providing him or her with time out of the office. While there are residual effects of PTO, such as reduced productivity in the employee's absence, the financial impact is relatively minimal. Additionally, the increase in the employee's morale, as well as the motivation of other employees working towards this reward, will substantially offset the related expense.
4. Provide free food
Although fairly simple, providing employees will free meals is a great motivator and can be relatively inexpensive. Aside from catering company gatherings and parties, consider offering lunch or even afternoon snacks to employees as a sign of gratitude when the company reaches major milestones. If a specific team or department goes above and beyond, pick up the tab for a team-building luncheon at a restaurant. Be sure to publicize the fact that a reward was offered in order to motivate others.
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