How to Motivate Employees On a Budget


How to Motivate Employees On a Budget

It has been proven that happy workers are productive workers. But how do you push your employees to work hard and make your business succeed? As a small business owner, you need to make sure you are constantly increasing productivity without breaking the bank, so here are a few ways to motivate your employees without spending a fortune!

Incentives & Rewards

I know I just said that I’d give you ways to motivate on a budget, and my first tip is incentives and rewards, and you’re thinking, “That sounds like I have to spend money…” It doesn’t!

Offering incentives and rewards can mean giving a free cruise to your top salesperson of the year, but it can also mean that your secretary who put together a successful Relay for Life team for the company gets three extra, free vacation days for the year for her effort. Or, when one of your salespeople lands a big client, you give movie tickets for them and their spouse with a little extra cash to cover a sitter for the night as a “thank you.”

While monetary bonuses are always appreciated by your employees, you can get creative and offer other things, too! Consider giving away some company swag, time off, or gift certificates. It doesn’t have to cost you a million dollars to give away rewards or gifts to your team members for when they do a great job!


Gamification has become a major disruptor to the classic office culture. According to Merriam-Webster, gamification is “the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.”

With gamification, you can make tedious tasks into a department-wide competition. For example, let’s say that next week is your annual file clean-out. You are closing out old files and archiving them, making sure all current ones are full and up-to-date, and assigning everything to the right person so that no customer gets overlooked. This is something that could take your staff weeks because it is boring and menial, even though it is so incredibly necessary to the organization and function of your business.

Via gamifying the task by creating a points system for each person on the project to track how many files they’ve successfully handled, you and they can track their progress, and encourage them to work faster by giving a prize to the person who tackles the most files by the end of the work week.

By making tasks like this and sales contests into games, you can breathe life into your team and influence them to do more.


As silly as it sounds, a lot of times people just want recognition for all of the hard work they do for your company. Many employees will lose motivation and drive if they feel that their work isn’t appreciated, or that they are being used.

Inspire your employees to work hard knowing that whoever performs the best or wins your contests will be recognized at the next staff meeting, or in the company newsletter. Make sure they know that if they provide excellent work, it will not be taken from them and have some other higher-up’s name slapped on it.

If they know that you actually appreciate all they do for you and that you will point out those who do the best work, they will strive to be the one who gets a glowing review in front of the whole company!

Opportunities for Advancement

Some employees want to work hard and be productive but end up hitting a wall because they don’t feel that they’ll get a promotion or leadership position even if they perform well. Make sure that your team knows that anyone who wants to work toward an advanced position will be encouraged, and rewarded for their dedication.

As an employee, there are few things worse that trying to work your way up the ladder, but feeling as though no matter how good you are or how amazing your work is, you just don’t have a chance. So make sure that you are offering special training to those who want it and are actively encouraging your top performers to apply for advanced positions. You should want to have the best of your team leading the rest, especially when they’ve proven they can handle new, additional responsibilities.

Offering opportunities for advancement will invigorate your workers to stay motivated because they will be able to see actual proof of what their hard work can earn them at your company!

There are many ways to encourage and motivate employees without spending an outrageous amount of your budget. Just remember that everyone wants to work hard and be great at their job, but they need to be reminded of how crucial they are to the company and that their great efforts matter to you and the business.

Abby Yetter

Abby Yetter is the CEO and Chief Consultant of Bright Ideas Small Business Solutions, LLC. She is a driven, enthusiastic businesswoman, with a talent for organizing the chaotic, and branding the unfamed. Abby strives to use her creativity, and experience, to solve the many problems of small businesses. With a background based in customer service management, social media, technological organization, sales, marketing, and customer experience specialties, she enjoys taking everyday complications, and finding the newest, most productive ways to execute the tasks.

All stories by: Abby Yetter