Money may make the world go round. But it’s not as great a motivator as you may think. At least, when it comes to your team.

Everyone likes rewards for a job well done. There are different reasons why rewards work as a good motivator. And it’s crucial that you deliver the right rewards to inspire motivation.

Research shows that motivated employees are much more likely to have fewer absences and work harder. They’re also more likely to be loyal to their company. And that can lead to lower staff turnover.

In addition, employees that are highly motivated deliver higher levels of customer service. This is a benefit for everyone because it can result in greater customer retention.

You may think that receiving a paycheck is its own reward. And you’re not necessarily wrong. However, it’s not the best motivator for your team.

It’s Not as Simple as Cutting a Check

Money is the reason why your employees are with you. But rewards are the reason they stay.

You can reward your employees in different ways. But a paycheck simply isn’t one of them.

Consequently, you can’t pay for motivation. At least not for the long term.

Why Money Isn’t a Motivator

Employees need money. That’s why they work, right? They have responsibilities and goals to achieve and they need money to get there.

However, money can’t keep employees motivated on an ongoing and sustainable basis.

Even though lack of money is a demotivator, receiving it is not a motivator. In his classic study in 1968, Frederick Herzberg found something intriguing. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not direct opposites.

What does that mean?

It means that there are different factors that contribute to job dissatisfaction. Yet job satisfaction isn’t judged on the same criteria.

Job satisfaction depends on intrinsic factors or motivators. Some of the examples include:

  • achievement
  • recognition
  • responsibility
  • growth
  • the work itself
  • advancement

On the other hand, job dissatisfaction depends on extrinsic factors or demotivators. Things that could lead to dissatisfaction include:

  • incompatible immediate supervisor
  • company bureaucracy
  • unpleasant working relationships
  • status
  • poor working conditions
  • job security
  • money

Here’s what it means. If your employees receive a decent wage, that pushes them into neutral. They are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their jobs. Remember, money itself is not an intrinsic factor.

But if you want to inspire your employees to go further on a long-term basis, you need something more. You need to shift your focus to those motivators.

Furthermore, a review revealed that salary and job satisfaction are not interdependent. In addition, the correlation between pay and pay satisfaction is only a little better.

At only 4.8%, you can conclude that a person’s pay satisfaction only goes up a little in comparison to their actual pay.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore extrinsic factors. Just know that you need to do a little more if you want to motivate your team.

You can incorporate a variety of different rewards into their everyday work life like:

#1 The Gift of Learning

You may wonder if that’s really a reward. Just know that you have to look at the gift of learning in several ways.

First, you hire a team that’s very smart and ambitious. That’s part of the reason they got the job, right?

But you need to keep them mentally stimulated. If they know everything there is to know about the job and company, boredom sets in quickly. They may even search out another company that gives them the stimulation they need.

Keep them engaged and constantly learning. You can offer rewards like:

  • access to training materials
  • trying new techniques
  • practice advanced skills
  • access to most experienced mentors and leaders
  • give them a chance to mentor others

#2 The Gift of Reward Recognition for Contribution

Are your high-performance employees content with contributing from the sidelines? Sure. But it’s also good to offer recognition for their contribution.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their contributions. Just as you give them an opportunity to add to the company, you also need to recognize it.

Think of the last time you solved a problem or exceeded a target. You were probably proud of your accomplishment. Your employees are proud of theirs too, so give them their due.

The next time you want to say thank you to one of your employees, try one of the following:

  • a brief thank you email
  • mention the accomplishment at a weekly meeting
  • public recognition through awards and acknowledgement

Of course, you want the accolades to fit the accomplishment. Otherwise, it will lose its value if everyone gets an award for every little thing.

But the important thing is to include a personal comment on the accomplishment and why it matters. It may also help motivate others to likewise contribute.

#3 The Gift of Fun in the Workplace

Fun in the workplace? But how will anyone get anything done?

Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. It can motivate a person in ways that other things can’t.

Imagine showing up to work knowing that you’re going to be in a positive and fun-filled environment. Even if your home life isn’t that great, you know that you can leave it all behind at work.

Building emotional connections can also help build cohesiveness in your team environments. So, consider hosting occasions where you can dress up and go to team dinners. Offer days or a week off for reaching a special target.

You can even host book clubs to encourage extra learning. The sky’s the limit when it comes to setting the tone in your office.

The last thing you want your employees to do is to bolt for the door at 5 pm. So encourage ways to build connections and positivity.

#4 The Gift of Input

If you don’t know how to motivate your team, there’s a simple answer -ask them. Let them be part of the process. Creating an incentive program in this way has a few benefits besides the obvious.

First, it lets your team know that you value their contribution. You genuinely want to know what makes people happy. And you’re willing to listen.

Next, it increases your business’ productivity. As you already know, your team gets motivated by rewards. But it’s a little different when they get to decide the incentives and receive what they truly want.

Involving the team in the decision-making process is easy. Try ideas like:

  • surveys
  • brainstorming sessions
  • suggestion box
  • ask questions during employee reviews

Gather team feedback and come up with a clear plan. Then your employees know exactly what to do to achieve those incentives.

#5 The Gift of Relationship

Who are your team members individually? Can you go beyond their job title and list their interests or hobbies? If you can’t, you probably should.

Build personal relationships and get to know who they are. In addition, if you’re relatable and show genuine interest, they’re more likely to do their best.

Also, don’t forget to add these personal touches into your office rewards. You can do things like:

  • pay for a fun class that’s related to an interest or hobby
  • keep the break room stocked with favorite snacks or drinks
  • give gift cards to favorite stores
  • invite the spouses to lunch on the company
  • pay for their child to go to camp
  • pick up a book by their favorite author

There is a multitude of ways to show that you are genuinely interested in your staff. Remember that work relationships are just as important as personal ones. And it’s important that you put in the time and effort to cultivate them.

#6 The Gift of Flexibility

Flexibility may not be optimal in all businesses. But it’s a great idea if you can find a way to work it into your office culture.

Flexible schedules help your staff maintain a healthy work-life balance. This means that they can take care of life’s responsibilities and obligations without worrying about their job.

Furthermore, letting them work from home can help reduce stress. And it gives them the opportunity to work when they’re most productive. Not when the office clock says they should.

#7 The Gift of Altruism

Can volunteering together be a reward? It is if you do it to strengthen your sense of office community.

Volunteering can bring people together like no other activity. But make sure it’s an opportunity that your staff is passionate about.

Volunteerism can help boost cooperation and increase productivity. Not only is it good PR, but it also can attract and retain employees. That may be why more businesses are doing it.

The Takeaway

You may have suspected it before. Money can’t buy everything. Your team needs a personal touch to feel motivated.

Consider tailoring your rewards system to fit your office culture and personality. Not only does it motivate your employees to give their best, but they’re also less likely to leave.

Job satisfaction and productivity are in your hands. Start building relationships and everything else will fall into place. And don’t forget to acknowledge that employee who came up with the fantastic incentive program.

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