How to motivate your employees without spending a dime

Fred Morris is a business owner who shares tips related to managing employees, saving money, and running business operations more efficiently.

In a still-struggling economy, company budgets are at a premium. It’s important, then, to keep cost management in mind when rewarding your high performing or otherwise deserving staff members. It’d be all too easy to dole out gift cards and bonuses for solid work performances, but those payouts can add up in a hurry. Instead, why not look at ways to motivate your staff without costing your company a dime? Read on to learn exactly how you can do that.

Dress-down days

Think no one really cares about a dress-down day? Just ask your staff, and you may be surprised. Corporate dress code compliance can irk employees like nothing else. A day or so a week when jeans and polos are acceptable is sure to keep your team fresh and performing at a high level. Of course, if your employees have direct contact with customers, make sure their casual wear is clean and professional-looking.

Telecommuting options

Offering telecommuting won’t cost you anything, as long as you stay on top of the program. If you do decide to go this route, be sure to schedule progress updates from your work-from-homers to ensure they’re keeping up with their deadlines and assigned tasks. Not only is this a free benefit, but your business can actually save money on energy costs as less electronic equipment is going to be in use on a daily basis.

Social media mentions

Even a quick mention on social media is a great (and obviously free) way to recognize your staff members for a job well done. With your employees’ permission, include their photos to personalize notes highlighting their accomplishments. Advertising success can only lead your staff to strive for more of it.

Paid days off

Everyone likes a paid day off, and by giving them out as rewards you’re technically not spending any money. Plus, your staff members are not likely to have a problem picking up the slack when one of their coworkers is out in hopes of eventually getting the same benefit themselves. Just make sure if you allow employees to choose their days off that your scheduling needs are taken care of in advance.

Free team-building events

It doesn’t take a weekend in Vegas to show your staff you appreciate them. If you put your mind to it, there are several free options at your disposal. A picnic lunch at a local park is great if you can all step away for an hour. You might end up footing the bill for a little food, but that pales in comparison to the cost of expensive motivational events. Public swimming pools are a good cheap option, and I doubt your team members would mind paying a nominal admission fee for a weekday in the water.

Also try scheduling an evening of board games at your house or the office. Bring along Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Cranium and make a night of it. To top it all off, hold an impromptu trivia contest in which you come up with some questions based on company information. You can not only have a great time, you can find out how much your team really knows about your organization.


Once you’ve raked in the savings, it’s time to direct them effectively. If you have any small business debts, get those straightened out first. Next, a business emergency fund is never a bad idea, and it can go a long way toward ensuring you don’t have to carry any debt going forward. Saving money and keeping your staff happy are both great goals to aspire to, but using your surplus to benefit your business is even better.

What ways can you think of to motivate your employees for free?

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