Motivating employees doesn’t always have to involve money. In fact, the modern approach to employee motivation is to consider non-financial incentives. Of course, the majority of us work to earn a living, but there are many other aspects to our careers, job roles, and workplaces that motivate us, too.

1. Allow your employees some time to work on a project of their choice
More and more companies are allowing their employees to work on passion projects. It could be a day in the week or the month where you allow your employees to set aside time to work on a personal project.

This is particularly beneficial for developers, for example. Their project might even relate to your business, providing further benefits. That said, the key is to give your employees a much-needed break and time to be creative.

One of the key themes with these kinds of rewards is to allow employees to take a bit of time away from their work to allow their creativity to flourish. At first, this might sound counterproductive, but it’s an idea that’s becoming increasingly popular.

Researchers from City University of London found a correlation between increased work intensity and inferior work outcomes regarding security and career prospects. Psychoanalyst and professor Josh Cohen from Goldsmiths University champions the idea of intervals of inactivity during the working day, as he believes it actually increases output and productivity by allowing employees to think more clearly. Of course, not all roles and industries can afford to allow for this, but in the modern workplace, it should be encouraged where possible.

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2. Reward with extra leave
Whether it’s a longer lunch break, an earlier dismissal, or days off, rewarding team members with a little extra time off is a great way to motivate employees.

For example, if your team completes a project they’ve been working hard on for a significant amount of time and its completion will benefit the company greatly, why not reward them by allowing them to take Friday off or letting them leave early one day?

Rewarding your employees in this way sets a great example and shows everyone you recognize when your employees go above and beyond for the company.

You could argue there’s a day of work productivity lost for those employees, therefore costing the business. However, would you really lose out in terms of output? If your employees have earned it, they’ve already put in the hard work. Furthermore, the results in the long run in terms of motivation are well worth it. It’s all about taking a modern approach to your reward strategy.

3. Reward your employees with more responsibility
Doesn’t sound like much of a reward, right? However, if done correctly, this can be a great motivator. It’s all about achieving ‘flow’, where there is the right amount of challenge balanced with the employee’s skill level. If an employee doesn’t feel sufficiently challenged by their work, they’ll become bored. If the challenge is too much, they’ll feel overwhelmed.

Furthermore, having more responsibility makes the employee feel as though they’re contributing more significantly to the company and they’ll feel more valued as a result, which is a great motivator.

How to communicate it
When you do reward employees, shout about it. Whether it’s through social media or internally to your employees, let everyone know. If you have some form of internal communication system for your employees, use it to share employee accomplishments. Forget email, you can easily do this through your employee benefits platform if you have one. More and more companies are incorporating reward and recognition into their employee benefits offering.

However you choose to reward employees, taking a more modern, forward-thinking approach by first looking at what really motivates your employees is definitely the way forward.