Motivating without the money?

How can I keep my employees happy and motivated at work? This is an age old question on the cusp of every employer’s lips. Whilst a healthy compensation package is an important factor for any person entering employment, retaining key talent isn’t just of matter of supplying financial gains, but rather motivating and appealing to your employees need for a rewarding career that offers an opportunity for personal growth.

According to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report, job satisfaction in the UK is at its lowest level for more than two years. As one of the most challenging pieces of the HR puzzle, employee engagement seems to be somewhat of a buzz word that is rarely understood. Many business owners find themselves in a balancing act, juggling the needs of the business with those of their employees. However, what employers may fail to realise is that these two factors are not separate components within the workplace, but rather they run in parallel, positively or negatively influencing each other.

The ability to motivate your employees is one of the most useful skills any employer can have. And believe it or not, we all have the capacity to achieve this, even if you haven’t realised it yet. What’s more the tactics used accomplish this don’t need to cost the earth. Below are just four examples of how to keep the employee engaged without the use of money.

Celebrate achievements

It is often much easier to focus on the negative rather than the positive in business. As employers, we can become consumed with looking for flaws and noticing when things go wrong. As a result, it means we sometimes take the achievements our employees for granted. This is an oversight that can often leave employees feeling undervalued and underappreciated.

Have your employees demonstrated an imperishable work ethic? Worked well together on a team project? Or showed the ability to be resourceful under pressure? If so, take the time to celebrate this. By focussing on the positive achievements of your employees you will be playing your part in building a more confident, strong and efficient team, thus improving the cycle of productivity.

Develop their strengths

Creating a happy workforce requires some focus on building and developing your staff members. When your hire each employee, you do so based on their individual strengths and the positive attributes they can bring to the company. With this in mind, employers should look to include employees on projects that play to their key strengths, whilst being challenging enough to satisfy their need for self-improvement.

It is also important to provide a working environment that promotes progression through guidance and mentorship. Learning can be achieved through one to one type support for technical aspects of the job, through to group tasks and exercises, which will help improve an employee’s soft skills such as communication and decision making.


Much like consumers, employees buy into a company based on their ability to invest in the company’s core values and beliefs through honestly shared dialogue. Employees want to feel as if they are an important part of the business and as such want to help contribute to its success. They want to feel like their voices are being heard and that their ideas, no matter how bold, are being taken on board even if they don’t reach fruition.

It’s often said, but not always realised. Employees are your most important asset. They work at the forefront of your company with direct communication with your stakeholders including your customers. Because of this, they will have unique insights into how your target market thinks and what internal/external processes work most effectively and which have room for improvement.

It is important for employers to use their staff’s knowledge constructively. Not all staff will be comfortable in coming forth with their ideas. In light of this, it is important to provide avenues whereby staff can share their opinions privately without fear that their ideas will be laughed at. This may include suggestion boxes and email communication of ideas. Whilst providing employees with the opportunity to share their ideas is a vital first step, employers must also show that these ideas are being actively considered. If you have received several good ideas, why not bring these to a vote, once again including your employees. This will enhance the collaborative cycle and demonstrate that you value your employees’ insight and what they bring to the business.

Challenge them

There is nothing worse in a job than when you become bored of doing the same tasks day in, day out. Whilst familiarity can bring forth comfort, more often than not the repetitive nature of a role can actually decrease an employee’s productivity as they become disengaged from their work.

When employees enter the workforce or start a new position, they bring with them a new found energy and enthusiasm to make an impact and bring forth positive change. As an employer, it is imperative that this fire remains lit. Sometimes it’s easy to keep employees doing the same task because they show an aptitude for it. However in doing so, you may be missing out on other potential strengths they could bring to your company.

To keep employees inspired and bringing their ‘A’ game, allow them to step outside of their comfort zone. If you have a new project that an employee would like to get involved with, give them the opportunity to shine. Enabling your employees to develop new skills not only boosts their confidence and ability but will also help broaden the skill set of your workforce and potentially fill any skills gaps. As an additional benefit, in the absence of specific departmental staff, having employees with experience across multiple departments can be beneficial in facilitating the normal running of the business, avoiding an unnecessary pile up of work.



Liverpool born Alan Price FCIPD, CMgr, FCMI is a successful entrepreneur and senior business figure. Alan is Employment Law and HR Director of Peninsula.

He is also managing director of Peninsula Ireland and Elected Director & Trustee for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – CIPD.

Peninsula Business Services is the UK’s leading employment law, HR and Health & Safety service provider, with its headquarters based in Manchester.

Alan Price also sat for four years as a board director at The Chambers of Commerce Ireland and on their audit committee. Alan is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD with over 15 years’ experience in employee relations. He is also a non-Legal Lay Member of Employment Tribunals for the UK Ministry of Justice as well as a Chartered Manager and Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute.