Motivation deeper than money

Budgets are tight and fears of new payment systems have you spinning. Not to worry, you don’t need cash. Turns out GRATITUDE goes a long way in employment retention…and face it, every employee you keep is a vacancy you don’t have to fill.

There is a myriad of studies showing money alone is not the best motivator. The classic Candle Study by Sam Glucksberg at Princeton University showed money and bonuses actually dull thinking and block creativity. If you want to really motivate (and KEEP) your team, you need to think beyond bonuses and 2% raises. A little creative thinking can motivate and retain quality staff while reinforcing the ideal work environment you are building.

Cheap and Easy Ways to Motivate and Recognize

1) A personal, hand written note

Never underestimate the power of a few kind words. Maybe they moved to a new place, welcomed a new pet or you heard junior hit a home run… it doesn’t matter, everyone has something going on that you can congratulate or empathize with. If you aren’t making time for this, you need to; it literally costs nothing to be kind.

2) A thoughtful gift showing you understand them

If you want to really retain and motivate your best team members, small efforts pay massive dividends, tell them AND show them. A gift card to a favorite craft store for the knitter, starter plants and seeds for a gardener, tickets to a local event or movie… anything that says you value them as person. You cannot put a price on what a heavily motivated employee will do for your company, alternatively unsatisfied team members and vacancies are a huge cost to your agency.


(Caution: if you can’t do this thoughtfully, don’t do it at all. It will backfire)

My husband’s job was relocated in 2012 and we had to move 200 miles, change states, doctors, day care providers, schools, not to mention change my own career. We did this with four really little kids in a matter of months… his company gave our family of six one blue bath towel with the company logo for our sacrifice… I did not appreciate that towel.

3) Team Swag

Look around your local ice cream stand this week and you are bound to see Red Sox and Bruins gear on full grown men who definitely are not on those teams. Creating unity through gear is truly the cheapest way to show buy in and reward loyalty. The site has some neat ideas of places to put your logo. Remember the captain and the bench sitter wear the same jersey. Be sure you are modeling the gear as well. (Cautionary tale of swag gone wrong above).

4) Build rapport

This summer most of us will get together with neighbors, friends and relatives. We will all hear “how’s work?” ten thousand times. You need to know how your staff are answering that question too. Unless you know their mom, then I guess you can ask her. Make time to talk about their career- not just the job.