Boost employee morale on a budget.

Boost Employee Morale and ROI Without Paying a Dime

Posted April 14, 2015 by Tracey Wallace in Managing Your Team
Boosting employee morale doesn't have to be expensive. Here are some quick tips on how to accomplish it on a small budget.

Update: We've written a white paper on perks and benefits that grow employee morale. If you'd like to download it for free, you can do so here.

Truly loving your career is about a lot more than just doing what you’re good at. After all, none of us work in a vacuum and other people’s habits, ideas and project execution consistently affect both our work performance and our work attitude.

And this isn’t something to be brushed under the rug. Studies have consistently proven that happy employees work harder. In fact, in a lab setting, happier people were 12% more productive. In Google’s own offices, however, happier employees were 37% more productive.

All right –– it obviously pays to keep your people upbeat, but doing so often has its own costs. Larger companies, particularly of the tech variety, boast about their employee benefits and morale-boosting activities, many of which include free food, lax time, massage rooms, ping-pong tables, in-office dry cleaning, and beer on tap, to name just a few.

For startups, though, the barrier to entry for similar employee perks is high — costwise, at least. Not to worry though. Remember that old saying about money not buying happiness? Here are four ways to prove its veracity to your team. 

Make Sure They Know Their Work Matters

I almost titled this section “Inspire via transparency,” but that didn’t really capture the proper feel here. See, successful businesses all have one thing in common: they are customer-centric. If your business is pulling in top talent with experience at tech companies that have extensive employee benefits, do the one thing those big brands can’t: share the love.

Be sure that every single employee in your office reads and/or hears feedback from customers. It doesn’t matter if a new design update got a kudos on Facebook, or if a new product feature is making the Twittersphere happy, be sure all the thank you's make their way to every single employee in the office.

After all, all of us want our work to help others, and simply seeing proof that it is boosts job satisfaction.

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Give Team Awards — And Have Them Mean Something

We’ve all been at that one company in which a CEO or team leader has to beg people to participate in an awards program. That’s not what we are talking about here. Awards don’t mean anything if they don’t come with perks or recognition. Having a small, generic statue sit on your desk for a week or a quarter is by no means sufficient to generate active interest, acceptance and participation in an award program.

For startups in particular, one really great way to seriously beef up an award program is to offer stock incentives to those who win. Perhaps you run a weekly award program, and then all of a month’s winners are put into a hat and one of them wins additional stock options (this can work on a quarterly-to-yearly basis as well). Or, better yet, offer some actual cash for all the extra hard work your employees have been putting into their projects.

Related article: 17 Proven Morale Boosters That Won't Break the Bank

Use Time Off as a Motivator

No matter what your vacation policy is at your particular office, time off can be a serious motivator for employees. Use KPIs to determine which employees or team members do the best each week/month/quarter, then announce the winners on a Thursday and give the entire team or even just that person a well-deserved three day weekend.

Employee Loyalty Programs

Give your employees some serious discounts with an employee loyalty program like those offered by YouEarnedIt. The service starts at $5 per employee, which makes it a super simple add-on that makes our employees much happier humans. Via the platform, employees give kudos to other employees. Once you rack up enough points, those kudos turn into actual dollars your employees can use to:

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  • Give to charities and non-profits
  • Get gift cards from top brands automatically delivered
  • Choose from thousands of physical products to including electronics, tablets, designer goods, and lots more

In all, boosting employee morale doesn’t have to cost a lot. Instead, it just needs to be heartfelt and authentic. Don’t set up an awards program just to do it. Set one up with a purpose, like helping your most dedicated employees become bigger stockholders in the company. That adds value. In the same vein, don’t just force employees to take time off. Give them days off with purpose, like a Friday or Monday out –– no questions asked. 

Have your employee rewards provide value to your employees –– and no, monetary value doesn’t have to be a part of it. Authenticity and inspiration lie at the heart of the truly productive. Bring out those characteristics in all your employee reward programs and you’ll be growing employees' job satisfaction by the hour.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.