Motivation Secrets: Getting Beyond Pay Raises


When budgets are tight and employee morale is low, what can a cash-strapped business do to motivate its hard working workers without crying “raises for all!”?


Money is a major factor in employee motivation — people need to feel they’re being compensated for their skills, effort, and time. But it’s not the only motivator.

Human beings are motivated by many things. Important things such as:

  • Appreciation
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of belonging
  • Being a part of something important and/or “bigger” than themselves
  • Opportunity (to learn, for advancement, for new experiences
  • Explicit goals with the chance to reach tangible outcomes
  • Feeling that what they do matters
  • New challenges

And none of these need cost a company much, if anything.

As you work to motivate your employees, be sure you’re not doing the following:

  • taking away current benefits;
  • fostering a culture of unfairness and petty politics;
  • pitting employees against each other in a sad game of “if you lose than I win;” and
  • a culture of “you’re lucky to have a job in this economy, so put up and shut up.”

Instead, try these motivators:

  • Show appreciation. If you can’t raise salaries, what about taking your department’s team members out to a nice dinner when they get a major project done early?
  • Get employee input. Ask for their advice on how to do their jobs better, how to create better process or even create new services.
  • Make sure your employees are challenged. Give them opportunities to go to conferences and seminars to learn new skills.
  • Create a culture of service, hard work and trust. Reward those who exemplify these values with a small trophy, certificate or lunch on the department.
  • Praise often and keep praising. Don’t hold back. Find something praiseworthy each day and acknowledge it.

If your company is located in the Washington Metro and you’ve a need for highly skilled construction, engineering, architecture and technical personnel, contact RealStreet Staffing. We can find skilled workers for you quickly and easily. Contact us today.

It was my distinct pleasure working for RealStreet, aka KJMK, on separate FEMA disaster recovery assignments and long-term recovery planning assignments between October 2004 and May 2006 in the aftermath of Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, Francis and Wilma. I found working with these professionals enjoyable as well as self-fulfilling and rewarding. After a 9-year stint as Read More…

Steve Spry, CAPZO, Certified Alabama Planning and Zoning Official

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