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7 Ways to Motivate Employees Without Money


What Motivates Workers?

When it comes to motivating employees, some companies have it down and others just leave a lot to be desired. The social networking platform, Socialcast, has provided a sweeping infographic that lays it all out. Socialcast used a variety of sources to create the infographic, so it’s full of good information that should give employers a clue to how the world of incentives and rewards is shifting from simply material rewards to more enriching, intangible incentives.

The 4 Basic Human Emotional Needs

1. Acquire
2. Bond
3. Comprehend
4. Defend

The need to acquire covers our drive to acquire material goods (think food and shelter) to intangible (thing awards and honors). The bond need is our need to create connections with other individuals and groups. The need to comprehend is our need to understand the world around us and make sense of it. And the need to defend is our need to protect ourselves and the people and things we care about from external threats.

The 4 Basic Needs

1. Autonomy
2. Mastery
3. Purpose

Autonomy would be the desire to work without direction from others, to create and maintain your own way of doing things and not to be micro-managed. The urge for mastery is the desire to gain more skill and mastery over the tasks you perform. Purpose is the urge to make a difference, to contribute something meaningful to the work being done.

Tradition and Culture

Traditionally, company rewards focused on the need to acquire. Traditional motivators would include pay raises or bonuses, gift cards, awards and honors or physical gifts. Employers may be surprised to learn that these physical motivators actually have a negative impact on performance, because they form a disconnect between profit and the organizational goals.

Culture plays a role in how we reward employees. For example, Japan uses the Nenko system to give tangible rewards in wages and bonuses. In Germany the majority of engaged employees report that their employers seem to value their opinions and give recognition and praise. In the U.S. though, it appears there is still a disconnect. While most managers think money is the biggest motivator, employees value morale and recognition.

What’s The Takeaway?

To increase morale, satisfaction and engagement of employees, modern employers should strive to balance physical rewards with intangible rewards to satisfy all of the basic human needs. Things like recognition, job security and opportunities for growth, flexible hours, praise and appreciation and a sense of influence will help employees feel truly valued and not just “bought”. Young employees in particular want work to fit into everyday life, so they actually value flexible hours over good pay. In fact, in a study of job satisfaction levels, there were high levels of satisfaction regarding the nature of the work or job quality than that based on salary, salary increases or bonuses.

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