5 Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Staff — Without Giving Them A Raise

by Katie Sawyer, 4 minutes read
HOME blog 5 ways managers can motivate their staff without giving them a raise

Money is a powerful motivator for performance. Employees often expect a raise for hitting milestones, achieving their goals, and consistent delivery. But what happens when raises aren’t an option?

With budget cuts, employers aren’t always able to motivate their teams with the promotions. In this case, the job itself needs to be fulfilling enough for the employee to stick around.

Thankfully, there are other simple ways to help motivate your staff. If you manage shift workers, discover the best strategies for helping them love their job without putting a price on it.

1. Show gratitude

Say “thank you” as often as you can. Recognize your employees so they know their work is seen and valued. You should tie your thank you to specific accomplishments so your employee knows they impacted the company’s success.

Gratitude keeps employees motivated and connected with their managers. You don’t have to wait for a hallmark achievement to make it known, as the little wins warrant praise too. Say thank you in front of the team, in private, and involve your customers.

  • Recognize an employee during a team meeting. Your weekly stand-up is the perfect time to highlight employee wins. Start an applause for the new server who worked a busy night while the team was understaffed.

  • Write a thank you note. Surprise your employee with a fun thank you card at their station. Emails get overlooked and don’t feel as personal.

  • Bring in customers to say thank you. Your front desk receptionist has been processing patient appointments with care and kindness. Organize an opportunity for them to thank your staff personally.

2. Provide learning opportunities

Doing the same thing everyday can get old. Introduce variety and allow your individual contributors to try their hand at leading your team, trying new skills, and influencing your processes.

Get to know your employee’s interests. In your check-in conversations, ask them what they want to explore or work on. Their increased satisfaction and new skills will improve your business and reduce turnover.

  • Let your staff run meetings. Meetings develop project management and presentation skills. Ask your staff to create the agenda, keep track of time, and deliver team updates.

  • Encourage your staff to get creative. Your window displays could use a refresh. Instead of contracting a decorator, give your staff freedom to make it their own.

  • Create a shadow program. If your staff wants to be a manager, let them shadow other managers. Give them a checklist of goals that can include owning new processes, like creating the team schedule.

3. Empower your staff with flexibility

Your staff need a healthy work-life balance. They should be able to freely manage their work alongside obligations with family, friends, and personal care. Flexibility would allow your employees to work when they’re the most healthy and focused.

To make your job easier, look at your current scheduling processes. Are you still relying on paper or email chains? Smooth things out with modern scheduling tools.

  • Encourage time off. If your staff is afraid to take vacations, they’ll burn out. Encourage your team to call out when they need a reset, or reward top performers with additional PTO.

4. Promote a culture of diversity and belonging

Work should be a place for connection and belonging. Build a culture where your employees are free to express their identities and come to work as themselves. They’ll be more motivated if they can bring their unique experiences to the table.

Community can happen at work. Create the space for employees to share cultural stories and learn from one another. You can start small without a ton of external resources.

  • Create employee resource groups. As your team gets bigger, consider creating identity groups for your employees to join. A group for parents, Black, or LGBT employees can facilitate discussion and belonging.

  • Celebrate cultural holidays. Decorate your restaurant, store, or office for cultural festivities like Lunar New Year and Hispanic Heritage Month. Cultural celebrations break up the week and bring joy to work.

  • Zero tolerance for offensive comments. Jokes based on a group or person’s identity have no place at work. Make sure that your employees feel safe to be themselves and set an example for appropriate behavior.

5. Connect them to your purpose

Money alone doesn’t make work satisfying. People appreciate when their work contributes to a greater purpose. For hourly workers, this purpose could be bringing people together to share a meal, helping people feel beautiful in new clothes, or taking care of the sick.

Leadership can create a mission that goes beyond any job description. Patagonia, for example, puts sustainability and climate protection at the front of every business decision. As managers and business owners, you can inspire your staff with opportunities to help the community through your specific industry.

  • Volunteer. Create opportunities for your restaurant staff to package meals and deliver them to the needy. Volunteering brings people together like nothing else can.

  • Donate. Collect gently used clothing in your store and partner with a local organization. Donations will also engage customers to your brand.

  • Make a statement. Use your storefronts, social media, or website to make your mission public. When a public crisis happens, issue a statement of solidarity with impacted communities.

The job is a reward

The most satisfying jobs are challenging, dynamic, and flexible. When you aren’t able to motivate your staff with money, remember that they value places that provide quality of life factors you can’t measure, like social safety and fulfillment. Learn more about how you can motivate your staff with this free ebook, The New Ways of Working.

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