Motivating Employees Without Spending Money

5 Simple Steps

Motivating employees is key to having a successful business; however, there are times when it is seemingly impossible to find better-motivated employees.

The reasonably obvious solution to motivating employees would be to pay them higher wages; however, research has found that not only do higher wages have no correlation to improved motivation, but also that overpaying employees often leads to a decrease in productivity.

So, if more money is not the answer to motivating employees, what is? Well, we’ve come up with five simple ways to motivate employees that will in turn improve your business.



Challenging your employees to complete tasks on their own motivates them to work harder and generates a creative environment in which they feel comfortable exploring innovative new ideas.

In a recent article by Forbes, the founder and chairman of Boston Beer Company Jim Koch discussed a theory of his own for challenging employees. As a graduate student, Koch decided to take some time off school and work as an Outward Bound wilderness instructor.

At the beginning of each four-week course, I gave everyone a supply of Alpine cord (a kind of string for lashing gear, pitching tarps, etc.) Consistently, if I gave my group plenty of string, they would run out and need more. But, if I gave them less and told them they had only two-thirds of what they really needed, they would get incredibly creative and make that cord last. They’d splice, they’d share, they’d save; they’d forage for bits of rope left behind by others. Through this exercise, I learned that culture and values can substitute for money and resources. Since we were on a tight budget in the early days, we used every piece of “string” we had, and that created a corporate culture of innovation and creativity. I’ve found that this motivates people to do the best and achieve terrific results with what they are given.”


Having healthy relationships with your employees is key to creating a productive work environment. A recent study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training® found that if an employee has a strained relationship with their immediate supervisor, there is a whopping eighty percent chance that they will disengage in the workplace. Thus, relationship building should start as soon as the employee begins training.

To a new employee, having a boss that is responsive, caring, and understanding is a huge deal. Being the “new guy” at work can often make someone feel forgotten or unimportant. Employers that take the time to engage with their employees, who have genuine interest in their lives, and who actually have some fun at the office will find themselves with not only more motivated workers, but loyal and trustworthy ones.


Tug of War Team

If an employee can rely on a teammate, their confidence will almost always boost. Just like in high school, being a member of a team can give you a feeling of pride and comfort that you can’t find anywhere else.

Teamwork in the workplace motivates employees to brainstorm ideas together. Ever heard the saying “two heads are better than one?” Well, it’s true! Having multiple people working on a project together will motivate each individual to work harder so as not to let any other team member down.



Obviously, taking the credit for another person’s work will destroy that person’s motivation to work harder, and managers who do so are often left with a body of disgruntled employees. Recognizing your employees when they deserve it is vital to keeping them motivated and innovative.

CEO of Paetec, Arunas Chesonis was often seen writing notes and sticking his head in office doors to tell his employees, “Job well done.” Recognition is motivating all on its own, and it is key to the success of your business.


Open communication with employees is vital to a successful business. However, allowing employees to offer suggestions can be the source of motivation for them. Allowing your employees the right to voice their own opinions creates a platform for honest communication, which in turn makes employees feel important and heard.

If an employee feels like their thoughts will actually make a difference in the business, they will likely give more opinions and work harder to improve the business.

These single suggestions will improve the quality of work received from employees without adding a single penny. To quote an article recently featured in Forbes:

“People who understand that money, power, status and possessions mean little without true passion for their job are the ones who will possess longevity and who will ensure a competitive advantage in the future.”

Money can only offer an employee so much. Having a passionate, hard working employee who is dedicated in their efforts to grow a company hold far more value than a non-motivated employee, regardless of the salary they command.

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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