High-5Whether it’s a small coffee shop or a multi-million dollar business, motivated employees are the key element of success for any company. They are more efficient, produce better results and they are much more likely to stay in your company. However, motivation not only plays a big role in helping to retain great employees, but also in attracting new talent.

Using monetary rewards to improve motivation is a simple idea, but what truly motivates your employees? Is it really the financial incentives? Or is it the perks like free food and social activities? Before you give your most loyal employees a pay-rise, let’s take a look at 5 more creative ways to motivate your staff!

1.     Say Thank You

GiraffeA study called The Carrot Principle, which followed nearly 200,000 people for 10 years, found that the single most common thing that most successful managers did was regularly offer some kind of recognition to their staff. In fact, the study found that managers realised significantly better business results when they offered employees recognition in the form of constructive praise rather than financial rewards.

With a little creativity, this simple “thank you” can indeed be an incredible motivator. In the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for example, one department started the symbolic “Giraffe Award” to recognise employees who stick their necks out, as risk taking was the kind of contribution the employer wanted to see.

Or how about encouraging peer-to-peer recognition? The Carlton Hotel Group for instance set up “Carlton Rewards”; a programme through which any Carlton employee can applaud the good work of their colleagues. They can recognise other employees for actions in the following categories: Build Our Team; Satisfy the Customer; Deliver Our Family of Business; or Work Smarter, Not Harder. The company delivers certificates to employees who receive peer recognition.

2.     Stop Giving Things, Give Experiences

Apart from recognition, offering money or a gift for a job well done can also be a much appreciated reward. However, handing out bigger pay checks or gifts may not have a long-lasting effect on an employee’s performance. Although it may require a little more thought and effort, offering your employees a unique memorable experience may have a much bigger impact on how connected they feel to their employer.

One of the 2012 “Best Places to Work” winners decided to cancel their annual ‘fun but predictable company holiday party’ and give its employees a much more unique and memorable experience instead. The company gave each employee a gift card to the local grocery store to buy holiday food and $50 in cash with the message to “go out into the community and do something nice for someone.” The employees could do anything they wanted with the $50 as long as it helped someone else. The company then organised a small get together, as opposed to the usual holiday party, where the staff could share their stories of kindness.

The stories and experiences that the employees came back with were amazing and touching. Many of the employees felt a real sense of pride and belonging and some colleagues were even brought to tears. This initiative was not only a unique experience for each individual employee, but also a great experience for the company as a whole.

3.     Make Employees Connect

While the tasks at work may often be the same-old, same-old; relationships with colleagues can make or break the job experience. Therefore, your workplace should be a fun and social place to be. Social networks within the company can strengthen employee relations and create a real sense of community. Encourage colleagues to follow each other on any social networks and get creative with the endless possibilities that social media offers, from giving workers public kudos to asking for their input.

The New York Public Library  created a board on Pinterest featuring great reading recommendations from its librarians. The possibilities to connect your staff through social media are only limited by your imagination.

4.     Knowledge as a Reward

Many employers believe that once their employees have passed through the company’s customary training course, their training is complete. However, can an employee ever be trained enough? In fact, opportunities to continue to grow and develop through training and development is one of the most important factors in employee motivation. People who get the chance to grow their skills and expertise not only take more pride in their jobs, but they become much more motivated because they feel that their employers care about their personal career development.

Make sure that you fully research courses to send your staff to get the full potential. Professional training consultants such as GPS can provide you with consistent global courses that can be both progressive and specific to job function, or even gender.

 5.     Mix Work and Play


Companies are increasingly deploying reward and competitive tactics commonly found in the gaming world to make everyday tasks seem less like work. Employees can receive points or badges for completing jobs or meeting time limits for assignments. Furthermore, companies can use leaderboards, which let colleagues view one another’s scores to encourage friendly competition and motivate performance. Tech research and advisory company Gartner estimates that by 2014 over 70 per cent of large companies will use ‘enterprise gamification’ for at least one business process.

For example, business software company SAP uses a variety of games to keep motivating its staff. One such game is ‘SAP Vampire Hunt’, which allows employees to hunt for ‘energy suckers’. The players earn points through the kilowatt-hours that they save the company. SAP has even turned its gamification efforts itself into a game; the company regularly holds a series of “Gamification Cups” aimed at generating ideas for turning various business processes into games. One recent winner turned the traditionally boring process of invoicing into an engaging competition; now that’s inspiration for us all!

Image source: http://www.500eco.com/exhibits/sap-vampire-hunter

Author: Leanne Rose, GP Strategies Limited