Non-Monetary Rewards to Motivate Your Team


Shelly Cochran

Mar 18, 2024


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Human Resources

Motivating your team to increase productivity, promote creativity, and encourage job satisfaction is common sense. Anyone in a supervisory position or management role for more than five minutes knows that employees who lack job satisfaction and overall engagement hurt the bottom line. They reduce overall morale, minimize the opportunities for success, and are just a drain.

While monetary incentives can be powerful tools to motivate employees, they are only sometimes practical. Particularly in the small business sector, non-monetary rewards can be equally effective, if not more so, in boosting morale and enhancing overall performance. Employee incentives other than money tap into intrinsic motivations, offering a sense of accomplishment, belonging, and personal growth among team members.

So why do so many companies have a challenging time with this concept? And, more importantly, how can you make non-monetary rewards work for your business? Your questions – answered.

Understanding What Non-Monetary Rewards Do

Manager rewarding team

Sure, as they say, “money talks.” However, non-monetary rewards encompass a wide array of incentives that do not involve direct financial compensation. Instead, they focus on recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions, achievements, and dedication to their work.

They appeal to the individual’s sense of self-worth, which, in a world with cyber risks facing small businesses, is critical to have individuals buy into the corporate culture aspect. Similarly, these rewards acknowledge team members' individual and collective efforts. In this way, non-monetary rewards contribute to a positive organizational culture and reinforce desired behaviors and outcomes.

Significance of Non-Monetary Rewards

  1. Increased job satisfaction. Non-monetary rewards recognize individual contributions. They celebrate accomplishments and hard work. In the process, they contribute to a positive work environment with high job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.
  2. Boosted morale and engagement. Personal recognition and team appreciation bolster morale and create a strong sense of belonging. Think back to the school days when receiving that thumbs-up stamp or sticker increased your engagement as a student and boosted your productivity. Employee incentives other than money can be as effective in a larger setting.
  3. Promote team cohesion. Non-monetary rewards encourage collaboration and teamwork. They champion strong interpersonal relationships and a supportive team culture. Concurrently, they allow workers to develop soft skills to make the team more productive. If there are multiple teams at your business, their collaboration will also benefit from a non-monetary reward system emphasizing recognition.

Basic Recognition and Sincere Appreciation

Manager appreciating his employee in front of others

Now that you know it only sometimes takes money to incentivize hard work and dedication, it is time to see what this looks like. At the very root of the approach is authentic recognition and appreciation. A sincere and personalized "thank you," or the public acknowledgment of an employee's hard work boosts morale and reinforces positive, desired behavior.

Recognizing big and small achievements demonstrates that the organization values and appreciates their contributions. When employees feel seen and appreciated, they are likelier to continue contributing to the team or even increase them. There are several forms of basic recognition that will go a long way to making individuals feel valued.

  1. Employee of the Month awards. Recognizing outstanding performance monthly encourages healthy competition and motivates employees to strive for excellence. Remember that this award should be based on merit, not on a roster of those who have yet to receive the award.
  2. Peer recognition program. Allowing team members to nominate and recognize their colleagues' contributions creates a culture of camaraderie and mutual respect. Moreover, it helps those who have yet to choose what it takes to get recognition.
  3. Public acknowledgment. Celebrating achievements in team meetings, company newsletters, or social media platforms amplifies the impact of recognition and inspires others to excel. Is there anything more inspiring than having a CEO, CFO, or another executive run into a worker and congratulate them?

Team-Building Activities, Celebrations, and Events

It may cost a few dollars to pull these off. Team activities are still considered non-monetary incentives because the funds pay for team-building activities and events. Also, these types of non-monetary rewards can extend beyond the confines of the workplace. Offer teams the opportunity to take a break from routine and strengthen team members' interpersonal relationships.

Whether it's a retreat, a team-building workshop, or a fun social event, these experiences contribute to a positive team culture and enhance collaboration. Something as simple as the manager grilling some burgers after work for the team can go a long way. It is an inexpensive way of providing recognition that builds up the individual and encourages the team.

Opportunities for Professional Growth and Development

Putting money toward your team members' professional growth and development is another powerful non-monetary reward. Providing opportunities for learning, skill development, and career advancement boosts employee satisfaction and contributes to the organization's long-term success.

What does this look like in today's business?

  1. Training programs. Offering workshops, seminars, and online courses relevant to employees' roles and career goals equips them with valuable skills and knowledge. This, in turn, benefits the business.
  2. Job coaching. Pairing employees with experienced mentors or coaches provides guidance, support, and valuable insights into career progression and personal development. It works well for both participants because the mentor must be on their game.
  3. Cross training. Assigning team members to cross-training exposes them to new challenges, perspectives, and skill sets, encouraging innovation and collaboration. Most importantly, it creates a well-rounded workforce.

Introducing Health and Wellness Initiatives As Incentives

Woman meditating at her office

Focusing on employee well-being through health and wellness initiatives is a non-monetary reward that resonates with the contemporary workforce. Examples include access to fitness programs, wellness workshops, or mental health resources. Something as simple as a 15-minute lunch hour or after-work meditation workshop can do wonders. It demonstrates a firm commitment to the holistic health of team members. A healthy and balanced workforce will likely be more engaged, productive, and motivated.

Work-Life Balance and Flexible Benefits

Hand in hand with holistic health benefits is the promotion of work-life balance. Flexible benefits can be powerful non-monetary rewards that increase employee satisfaction and well-being.

Support the importance of personal time and accommodate employees' diverse needs and preferences. This corporate attitude creates a work environment that fosters loyalty and commitment. Which types of flexible benefits supporting work-life balance could you offer?

As simple as offering options such as telecommuting, flexible hours, and compressed workweeks empowers employees to better manage their personal and professional commitments. It also inspires workers to increase their productivity to keep these benefits.

Inclusive and Collaborative Work Culture Lets the Individual be Seen and Heard

Creating a collaborative workplace culture is a non-monetary reward that significantly impacts team motivation. Emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion strongly conveys that every team member's contribution is valued. Promote a culture where ideas are heard, and collaboration is encouraged. As a result, you promote a sense of belonging and motivation among individual employees and entire teams.

Putting the Employee in Charge of Success and Personal Development

Setting goals

What does it take to ignite passion and engagement among team members? Encouraging employees to lead their projects, make decisions, and pursue their interests gives individuals a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work. A hands-off approach, within reason, avoids micromanaging, which smothers productivity.

There are several ways to promote success and autonomy.

  1. Goal setting. Involving employees in setting meaningful goals and giving them the autonomy to determine how to achieve them fosters a sense of ownership and accountability. It also gives workers a vision of what is possible.
  2. Challenging tasks and projects. Assigning challenging and meaningful projects that align with employees' interests and strengths encourages continuous learning and professional growth.
  3. Feedback and empowerment. Regular feedback, constructive criticism, and opportunities for self-assessment put employees in a position to reflect on their performance. This is the time to identify areas for improvement and take proactive steps towards growth and development. Do not turn it into a performance review, however.

Remember to Balance Non-Monetary and Monetary Rewards

While employee incentives other than money are critical in motivating teams and individual employees, striking a balance with monetary incentives is essential. Financial rewards provide tangible acknowledgment of hard work and success. However, combining both rewards ensures a comprehensive approach that addresses team members' diverse needs and preferences.

For example, align rewards with organizational values and goals. Non-monetary rewards should focus on the organization's values, mission, and strategic objectives, reinforcing a shared sense of purpose and direction among team members. However, monetary rewards are also in line if a team just landed a high-value contract that will make your company quite a bit of money.

Of course, establish clear criteria and expectations before you begin any incentive program. Transparent criteria for earning non-monetary rewards and clear performance expectations provide clarity and fairness, motivating employees to strive for excellence and achieve predetermined goals.

As always, ask for feedback and adapt as needed. Soliciting input from team members regarding their preferences and the effectiveness of existing reward systems facilitates continuous improvement and adaptation, ensuring that non-monetary rewards remain relevant and impactful. If you need a little help, remember that we do SEO for small businesses as well as assisting here; call us!

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