3 Ways to Motivate Employees Besides Pay

By | Posted November 20th, 2012

Hiring employees is expensive. There are the actual costs of placing ads and paying recruiters. And then there’s the time you’ll spend sifting through resumes and cover letters, interviewing prospective employees, and discussing the options with your team. Once you hire a new employee, there’s more time to be spent training that person, and productivity may have to slow down just a bit while they learn the ropes.

Hiring employees is also unavoidable when you’re building a business, but the less often you have to do it, the better, and that means retaining good employees. The best way to keep your team intact is by keeping them happy and motivated, and a paycheck isn’t always enough, especially when other companies out there are getting creative with their perks, which could entice your employees to think about jumping ship. If you’re not already offering these kinds of motivators to your employees, now’s the time to consider it. Here are a few suggestions.

Unlimited Vacation

If you work for a company that offers unlimited vacation, you’re undoubtedly the envy of all your limited-vacation-days friends. If you’re a business owner, mention to your friends that you offer unlimited vacation, and they may tell you to seek help because you must be crazy. How can a business possibly function when employees are allowed to take off whenever they want to?

The answer is that business may just function better and be more productive than ones that limit vacation time. Employees perform better when they have time to recharge their batteries. But more than that, they appreciate being treated like responsible adults who can be trusted to take vacation whenever it suits them and still get their work done.

Still, old habits die hard, and employees at some companies aren’t quite sure what to make of so much freedom, so they sometimes actually take less vacation than they did before they had no limit on it. One tech company, Evernote, combats this by giving employees $1,000 bonuses in exchange for the employees taking trips lasting at least one week. And just to make sure everyone takes part, the company requires an airline ticket as proof to get the bonus.

Knowing they can take time off whenever they need it makes for more motivated employees because aside from it being a reward, most employees will also want to ensure they’re earning that time off, and not giving the impression that they’re taking advantage of it.

Full Health Insurance Coverage

Thousands of companies offer health insurance, but not every company truly understands the value full coverage holds for employees. And by full coverage, we don’t just mean a PPO plan that let employees choose their own primary care physicians, as well as other specialists. True full coverage comprises two main areas—plans and premiums.

Health insurance is great to have, and it’s something employees can be grateful for. But one thing that’s even better than health insurance is more health insurance. Along with standard health policies, consider offering dental and vision coverage as well.

Glasses can be expensive, and while having coverage for dental issues and emergencies is important, it’s the preventive care that’s even more valuable because it helps avoid major issues from cropping up in the first place.

Want to go even further for your employees? Pay their policy premiums. Fourteen of the companies on Fortune’s list of the 100 best companies to work for pay 100% of their employees’ premiums.

Providing true full coverage in this manner accomplishes two things—it increases your employees’ take-home pay and decreases their worry about encountering unexpected health issues. The less they’re worrying about being sick, the less stressed they’ll be, which also helps motivation and productivity. Taking care of your employees’ benefits them and the business.

Healthy Snacks

Not every perk has to be extravagant or expensive. Sometimes even small gestures can show employees they’re appreciated and valued. If you’ve ever worked through lunch to meet a deadline, you know the kind of havoc that can wreak on both your body and mind. You may get a headache, become grouchy, or even find it difficult to focus when you’re hungry. But sometimes, you just can’t break for lunch when a project is on the line. Offer some health-conscious snacks along with those beverages, and you can help your employees stay alert, meet deadlines, and be healthier.

The Fruit Guys will deliver fresh fruit to your office every week. You can choose from packages of different sizes and prices, as well as organic or regular fruit. Being able to grab a piece of fruit to tide them over while they work can go a long way in keeping a hungry employee happy. Not to mention that you’ll get better work from them when they’re not losing focus.

Fruit is perishable, though, and if it’s not all eaten every week, you may end up throwing some away. If your staff isn’t too keen on fruit, consider less perishable snacks such as roasted nuts, power bars, and trail mix.

A company called Mindful Snacks will keep your office kitchen stocked with your custom selection of healthy snacks. Employees will appreciate better options that won’t cause sugar rushes and crashes the way candy bars do.

Providing alternatives to candy and junk also helps your employees stay healthier, which may help reduce the amount of time they may be out sick. But access to healthy snacks can also be a great motivator because your employees will appreciate you looking out for their health and well-being. Again, it’s a win-win for you and your employees.


One important point to keep in mind is that offering perks like these isn’t just a good way to motivate employees. Yes, productivity will probably go up. But so will morale, and that’s a key factor not only in productivity but employee retention. Keeping employees saves you money in hiring and training. Not to mention, above-and-beyond perks are also fantastic tools for attracting talent. If you want to keep good employees and find more as your company grows, consider offering even just one of these motivators. The resulting changes may just surprise you.