7 Effective (And Affordable) Ideas to Motivate Employees as a Manager

Company leaders are always on the lookout for ideas to motivate employees. In this post, we’ll deliver 9 things that motivate them, 7 ideas that work to encourage employees and improve company culture, AND a source for inexpensive motivational gifts. 

Ready to help your employees feel better about working for you? Read on.

What Motivates Employees In The Workplace

inexpensive motivational gifts for employees

Forbes wrote an article several years ago on the “Top 9 Things That Ultimately Motivate Employees to Succeed.” Even though many things have changed in our culture since then, the principles behind these success motivators remain true. Take a look at their article (after you finish this one, of course) for more insights into each topic, but here are the highlights on motivating factors in the workplace (and our suggestions for maximizing them):

  1. Trustworthy Leadership – Make sure they know you are dependable, value them, and have their best interests in mind.
  2. Being Relevant – Look for ways to help them become better in their field and equip them to advance in their career.
  3. Proving Others Wrong – Most people face moments in their careers when somebody doesn’t think they have what it takes. Allow your people opportunities to rise to the challenge and demonstrate excellence.
  4. Career Advancement– To piggyback off of #2, once you’ve set them up to advance be sure you actually let them when appropriate opportunities arise. 
  5. No Regrets – Help employees defend themselves against negative attitudes when they fail. Encourage them to try new things, take on challenges, and seize new opportunities so they can look back on their life/careers with no regrets.
  6. Stable Future – Create a culture where employees aren’t constantly wondering if they’re going to be the “next to go.” When they feel secure in their job, they’ll naturally work harder and better.
  7. Self-Indulgence – Everyone is motivated on some level by selfish gain. Playing to that as a leader may create good short-term results, but can lead to bad patterns in the long run. Be careful about using lots of self-indulgent motivators like cash, attention, and fame.
  8. Impact – When we know that our work makes a real difference in other people’s lives, it makes us want to do more of it…and do it even better. Help your workers understand how even the simplest roles make a big impact on the people you serve.
  9. Happiness – There’s nothing better than simply accepting your lot in life and being happy in your work. While ambition is admirable, and we should use our abilities to their full potential, we (and our employees) would do well to remember that each day that we find joy in what we do adds up to a lifetime of overall happiness and contentment. 

How to Motivate Employees As A Manager

Managers in a company are usually the leadership’s front-line contact with the rest of their employees. Since they are responsible for a smaller number of people day-to-day than, say, the CEO they have a better idea of what makes those employees tick.

However, managers don’t typically have access to a vast amount of company resources to use as rewards or incentives. So how can you motivate employees as a manager?

The simple answer is: appreciate them.

According to a study cited in SHRM’s article, “How Managers Can Motivate Employees,” only 25% of employees feel that their bosses value their efforts. That’s a large portion of the workforce that feels unnoticed and underappreciated. 

Managers can help employees be motivated to bring their best selves to work when they keep the lines of communication open, regularly giving specific praise when they can. After so many people became used to working from home (disconnected), an employee who knows they can speak to (and hear from) their manager is much more likely to stay engaged at work.

If you’re a manager, make a point to be intentional about spending time with your direct reports. Block out time every day to simply be with them, talk to them, and understand their concerns…both at work and away from work. 

When someone does a good job or goes above and beyond, make sure you mention them and the specifics of what they did to bring value to the company within 24 hours. You’ll be amazed at how well your people respond.

Ideas to Motivate Employees

If you’re looking for more ideas to motivate employees, Science of People has “20 Awesome (& Fun) Ways to Motivate Employees.” Some of what they suggest has already been mentioned here. and the entire article is worth a read. Here are some of our favorites from the rest of their list (and most of them are free or very inexpensive!):

  1. Use Memorable Incentives – Cash is nice, but sometimes a reward that is memorable is better. What about tickets to an event? Gift card to a really nice restaurant? Getting to display a coveted trophy for a while (“This month’s winner of the Smith Manufacturing GOLDEN UNICORN is…”). Be creative and have fun!
  2. Get Work Done Outdoors – If your staff is mainly stuck in an office all day, find ways to get work done outside or off-site from time to time. We all loved field trips when we were in school! If your next staff meeting is in the park with a break to go for a spin on the merry-go-round, you can be sure they’ll love it better than the boardroom.
  3. Remember & Celebrate Birthdays – Everyone likes to be remembered. Even your toughest employees who swear they don’t want anyone making a fuss over their birthdays will smile when you do. It doesn’t have to be over the top–celebrations can get expensive, especially if you have a lot of team members–but even just publicly recognizing someone’s special day will go a long way.
  4. Introduce & Welcome New Employees – We covered this in more detail in a previous post on “How to Maximize Your Onboarding Process.” The nutshell version is that being prepared when new people join your team lets them know they are valued. Avoid setting them up for failure or feeling like second-class citizens. Have a plan for success!
  5. Share Customer Reviews & Thank-Yous – Your employees need to hear praise from you, but it’s also good when they can hear it from your customers. Whenever positive reviews come in through Yelp, Google, or wherever, be sure to share them…especially if they mention one of your team by name. 
  6. Celebrate Milestones – When someone achieves something or experiences something good (either in their career or personal life), celebrate it! This goes beyond birthdays. Make a big deal out of new babies, graduations, fitness goals, promotions, landing a new client, or getting that certification.
  7. Build Loyalty With Team Swag – Your company may already have uniforms, but this idea goes beyond that to giving your employees branded items like mugs, t-shirts, stickers, hats, keychains, etc. The more connected to the company they feel, the more intrinsic motivation and loyalty they’ll have.

Inexpensive Motivational Gifts For Employees

Successories is a company that provides fun motivational gifts for employers to give their employees. They range in price from silly and inexpensive to really nice and high-end. We don’t get any referral kickbacks from them. They’re just a good one-stop place to shop if you’re looking for inexpensive motivational gifts. Gifts don’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated, and where you get them isn’t as important as the fact that you do. 

Motivating Leaders

motivating leaders

More than patting a hard worker on the back, the things you do to recognize your employees will begin to create and motivate leaders within your organization. As you create a positive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and important to the bigger picture, you will find that they:

  • stay with your company longer
  • work better when they’re there
  • transform into your next generation of leaders

The time and money you spend today working to motivate your employees will generate a huge ROI as they become leaders within your organization tomorrow.

Get Even More Ways to Motivate Employees

Our team of business experts has over 40 years of experience helping businesses just like yours grow and become great places to work all across West Tennessee through our offices in Jackson, Dyersburg, Brownsville, Paris, Milan, and Martin. (Really, we can help no matter where you are!) Schedule a call today to see how we can deliver even more ways to motivate employees for success.

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