How to incentivise your employees without breaking the bank

By Michelle Hughes

March 18, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

It is now well researched and documented that your employees value some rewards higher than others. Gone are the days when you can offer a financial reward or bonus to all your employees and expect them to remain motivated and loyal to your business. The modern workforce is young and dynamic, giving you lots of opportunity to offer a positive and fulfilling job. In recent research it stated that millennial workers actually prefer to feel fulfilled and interested in their job rather than receive a financial reward above their salary. However, an interesting role with perks equals a very happy workforce, which in turn means increased production levels for you business. While you may not be able to offer luxury incentives. such as foreign travel and exclusive sporting events, there are several ways you can still offer perks to your team without breaking the bank. When you’re looking at how to motivate your employees, it is important to know what is important to them.

Flexible working

Spending 37 hours a week glued to the same spot in an office staring at the same screen is difficult for even the most motivated of employees. In a report last year, it showed over one-third of employees would prefer flexible working to a pay raise. This is particularly true for the Generation Y workers who would value a change of scenery from time to time to keep them alert. There are two approaches to this that have been shown to motivate employees. The obvious one is to let people work from home for half a day or one day a week. However, you could have a change of scenery for your whole team and move your location to somewhere more interesting for a day or two if the type of work you do allows for this. You could hold meetings outside so people can breathe in some fresh air for an hour rather than air conditioning germs.

Exercise programs

It’s well known that exercise focuses the mind and therefore increases productivity. Over 65% of employees feel confident that finding time to exercise more will help them complete their job more efficiently. By helping your whole team achieve their exercise goals through organised lunch-time jogs or exercise classes you can not only increase productivity but also create a better sense of “team”. You could sign your workforce up for a team run like Gung Ho or Tough Mudder and try to encourage them to take part in a charity race. It will pull everyone together as a team, which creates a positive work environment and you can raise money for a good cause, too.


There’s a lot to be said for the feel good factor of doing something worthwhile for a good cause. In a recent report from City Philanthropy, it stated that 53% of millennial workers wanted to find time to volunteer for charities.
There will be many local charities that would welcome the support of your employees in their lunch break either on a weekly, monthly or even annual basis. Local charity shops welcome lunchtime cover for their outlets. Many larger businesses offer an extra day’s holiday if that day is used to do something for charity. This offers a great opportunity for your employees and potentially to you as a business owner in the local community. If you have an already productive workforce, it doesn’t take a huge intervention to motivate them further, push their interest in their job and further increase output levels even more. It increases employee retention, reduces your recruitment costs and ultimately increases the profitability of your business.


Michelle Hughes

Michelle Hughes is a consultant working with businesses to increase their digital awareness.

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