Guide: How to Increase Motivation without Using Money

Offering employees a raise has always been thought of as the main and obvious way to increase their motivation and keep them happy. This is no longer the case. 

In an era where notions like workplace and career are being completely redefined by the rapid progress in technology, the introduction of remote work and globalization, employees are looking for a lot more than mere monetary compensation. 

What gets people motivated in the modern workplace no longer appears on a balance sheet and your job as a leader is to create a working environment that motivates people to do their best work. 

How can you increase motivation without using money? Let’s investigate. 

Increase motivation with company culture

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To borrow a quote from former Campbell Soup Company CEO, Doug Conant, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

These very words could be used to describe how company culture has risen to prominence in the last couple decades. How a company’s intangible ability to make its employees feel like they are part of an organization that values them and wants them to be a part of its future actually determines employee motivation. 

But before trying to stress the importance of company culture in increasing employee motivation, it would be wise to define it. Company culture is an amalgamation of the values, mission, goals and working environment of a company. 

It’s the way employees feel when they get to work, an energy that drives them to be more productive, more focused, more loyal to the company. 

Now let’s dig into some numbers. 

Nulab’s latest research recorded that 83% of respondents rated company culture as important when deciding where to work. 

Jobvite’s 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study showed that almost half of active job seekers cite company culture as the reason driving their urge to change jobs. 

According to Avast Business 2018 Mobile Workforce Report – 67% of Global CEOs predict that in five years, workplace talent will focus more on corporate culture and values than they do on pay and you immediately realize that employees look way beyond monetary compensation in their career progression. 

As you can see, monetary compensation is no longer the answer to motivating employees. Globalisation has opened up the marketplace, offering people ample opportunity to build a career.

That means that you, as a leader, should be doing everything you can to strengthen your company’s culture. The goal here is to create a sustainable framework where you can attract, retain and nurture talent. 

Here’s how you can achieve that: 

Provide meaning through inclusion

A recent research by Harvard Business Review, showed that 9 out of 10 people are willing to earn less money to do more-meaningful work. 

Finding meaning in what you do is probably the most important reason to keep doing it. What do we mean by finding meaning? Feeling that your work has impact, it is appreciated, recognised and valued. 

People need to feel they are part of something bigger, that their contributions are seen, recognized and taken seriously. 

How do you make them feel included? By involving them in the decision-making process. Isolating employees to work on a very specific task, on a very specific project might alienate them from what the company’s overall goals are and how they are contributing to it. 

It’s your job as a leader to create a foundation, a methodology to align goals and ensure everyone is working collaboratively and inclusively.

Say hello to OKRs. OKR is an abbreviation for Objective & Key Result and is a goal-setting framework that does exactly that.

Objectives are actionable or aspirational, quarterly goals that you set out to achieve. Key Results are the measurable results that show you have achieved those Objectives. The entire framework is constructed in such a way that teams build and maintain motivation. 

It allows teams to take responsibility for their roles in company outcomes. Teams feel a part of the decision-making process by deciding what is the best way their team can contribute to company goals.

OKRs are known to help transform company culture by allowing teams to be more aligned, create more transparency throughout the company, and allow teams to take responsibility for their role in the company’s success.

Hierarchy and clarity

Hierarchy has traditionally been associated with rigid company structures and negative connotations. You can absolutely change that. 

Establishing a hierarchy within your company can create the clarity required to increase motivation. Hierarchy allows people to settle into their roles, assume responsibility and focus on the goals that matter. 

Not only does hierarchy allow employees to focus on their job but it creates an organizational structure rooted in openness and transparency. From top to bottom, employees know what everyone is working on, seeing how their work is contributing to the goals of the company. 

Motivation stems from knowing where employees sit in the organizational structure, what is expected of them and what they mean to the company. Waking up to these truths on a daily basis clears the way for them to be productive. 


This part is crucial. Listening to your workforce and offering constructive feedback is a pillar to company culture and increasing motivation. Feedback and an open line of communication between management and employees has proven to be effective if done right. 

According to a recent survey of 1,400 Gen Z individuals at the 22nd EY annual International Intern Leadership Conference, 63% of the partakers said they want to hear timely, constructive performance feedback throughout the year. 

According to a Salesforce survey, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five times (4.6x) more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

Performance management and how it can have direct impact on motivation has been the main focus of many recent studies. Like with most things, there’s a right of way of listening to what employees have to say and delivering your feedback back to them. 

First and foremost, you need a framework that can simplify the process of employee feedback, highlight why it matters and be easy to use. Once you have that place, you should be looking to systematize the feedback process. 

Start with weekly check-ins, keep them short, focused, inclusive, positive and try to initiate engagement and interaction between team members. Your goal in these meetings is to listen to team members as much as it is to inform them. 

Promote self development to increase motivation

According to a research report by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

Giving your employees the opportunity to grow as professionals, enrich their skill set, and add to their knowledge bank is a huge driver for motivation. 

By offering people the opportunity to learn and grow, you are essentially giving them the message that you trust them, you want them there for the long term and want to invest in them. 

It is a form of reward that people value more than money. Training and development programs allow people to create new experiences, come in contact with other professionals, network and come out the other side with new skills, memories and references that cannot be replicated or replaced by anything else. 

Money is not the most important word starting with an “m” after all

Gone are the days where calling employees to your office to discuss a raise was the one and only way you get them re-energised and motivated to work. Don’t get us wrong, people do appreciate a good salary but work motivation has developed into much more than that. 

Motivation is not something employees wait for at the end of each month. Motivation is hidden in their everyday lives. In the way they work, they way they feel in the workplace, the way they communicate with management. 

Your challenge as a leader is to set a framework in place where people can derive motivation whenever they need it.