11 Free or Low Cost Suggestions for Employee Motivation

For over two years, all of us have been directly impacted by the down economy.  News outlets speak of unemployment and higher prices on almost every post or broadcast.  Confidence is low; however, signs of improvement appear to be increasing with hopes of a stronger, newer environment.  Regardless of the State of our Union, employee motivation and retention is an important area of focus for employers in order to maintain a successful business culture.

There are many ways to motivate your employees and with a little creativity, easy and free or low cost options are available.  Here are 11 suggestions to get you started:

1. Negotiate a reduced rate with your local gym for memberships and consider paying a portion of the fee for employees.  Exercise is good for the body and mind and may help reduce health care costs and absenteeism. 
2. Consider creating a rewards program.  Either host in-house or contract with a rewards company.  Provide cash incentives or points towards the purchase of goods or services in the program for various successes such as top sales, attendance, positive service comments from customers etc.  Often, being able to “purchase” a item without spending any money helps create excitement without any of the “buyer’s remorse”. 
3. Pay for a night away for top performers.  No matter where you live, most of us have easy access to either a larger city or peaceful B&B in a little town that offers an opportunity for relaxation and/or entertainment.  Just getting away from the norm, your typical environment and daily obligations is enough to rejuvenate and get the creative juices flowing again. 
4. Saying thank you and offering special recognition to employees is something you can do for free and often goes a long way.  Something as simple as having the President of the company stopping by an employee’s desk to say he/she recognizes their efforts and the impact it is having on the company can pick up the spirits of even the most jaded employee.  
5. If you have a special project, consider appointing someone who deserves recognition as the “Special Projects Manager” and have them coordinate team meetings and provide reports back to the department manager or President.  Providing autonomy to direct an important event can encourage pride and a renewed interest in the company. 
6. Sponsor a social event.  Bring together all team members for a pizza party, build your own ice cream bar or Taco fest.  Encourage employees to dine with team members they don’t normally get to interact with. 
7. Many local University’s offer a Ropes Course or other team building program.  Consider booking a morning and watch as your team develops. 
8. Reward an employee who deserves special recognition with a free tank of Gas.  With the cost of a gallon at the pump, this gesture will last well past the +/- 300 miles they will get from the gift and your investment is +/- $40.
9. Give out gift certificates for coffee, lunch, spa services etc.  A break away will certainly help your employees improve their motivation and ability to focus and do a great job for you!
10. Consider sending your staff to a seminar.  They learn new strategies and gain from increased knowledge.  You benefit when they implement some of the ideas they learned to your business. 
11. Go to the movies.  Take half your staff to the first showing and the second half to the afternoon matinee.  No need to shut down for the day and your staff gets to legally “play hooky” for a portion of the day.