How to motivate your employees without increasing their pay

We had the pleasure of catching up with a friend of Maida Learning, Natasha Ace, in Melbourne yesterday. We are looking forward to a webinar Natasha is presenting for Maida Learning on November 25 and invited her to join the Maida Team as a Guest Blogger. Here is Natasha's blog below:

As small business owners, it is sometimes hard enough to pay yourself, let alone also increasing wages for contractors or employees. Often, raises are requested when someone feels they’ve “worked long enough” with the organization and thus a discussion is born.

Most small business owners don’t know how to have this conversation; therefore, they give in to the pay increase or refuse. Neither way is really productive in terms of a healthy business model. Let’s take a moment to think outside the box: here are some suggestions you can try as alternatives to increasing wages.

Firstly, most people are looking for something, obviously. That something might be personal growth, connection or a sense of community, or a simple thank you. In this post, we’ll cover appreciation and goal setting.

Most businesses thank their employees when they sign big contracts or land a big client, but what about day–to–day events? Has the team had a rough week? Maybe a slow week? What about when they didn’t do a great job? Of course, we’re not suggesting rewarding bad behaviour, but rewarding hard work goes a long way.

  • Allow for a paid mental health day or a “doona” day. Sure, they may be contractors, but haven’t they earned a stress-free day? What are a few hundred dollars if it ensures a happy workplace? Give them a day paid that they can call in sick with no ramifications of pay.
  • Allow for time away from the office. Mandatory drinks after work on a Friday doesn’t count as social bonding or appreciation for hard work. Try something more innovative, such as a picnic in the park or surprising everyone by allowing everyone to leave early, paid of course, and offering drinks at a local pub. These are small ways to show appreciation for hard work.

Shave your head (for charity)
Set company goals and/or individual goals with your employees or contractors. If they meet their goal(s), you’ll provide a service for charity. Perhaps you spend Christmas helping out at a homeless shelter, or (if you’re brave enough) you shave your head, or grow a ‘mo! Your contractors will work pretty hard to reach the goals you set if they know you’ve signed up to run that 5k!
Some ideas for charity events:

The biggest factor in all of these ideas is to really understand your business, its goals, and how to reward your contractors when they provide their fair share of the hard work.

If you’re interested in more “outside” the box ideas, we’ll be sharing more ideas in our webinar on 25 November. In this upcoming webinar, we’ll provide you with more ideas on ways to reward your contractors without increasing their session rates. 


Blog authored by Natasha Ace: With a strong background in operations management and administration, Natasha began her career providing administrative support in psychology practices. Through hard work and persistence, she was able to develop this work into a consultancy firm and her own private practice. She is experienced in setting up operating processes and protocols for a wide range of businesses on an international level to manage human resources, regulatory compliance, and financial administration.

Staffing, Culture

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