If you ask your employees what would motivate them to work harder, they will probably talk about raises and bonuses. However, monetary incentives are not as effective as many people think. While a raise is an excellent way to reward an outstanding employee, there are less expensive ways to tell your workers they are doing a great job.

Finding creative and non-monetary ways to motivate your workers is important, especially if you are working with a limited budget. Few businesses have unlimited funds to work with, and smart managers need to do the best with what they have.

The Praise Board

One of the best ways to motivate front-line customer service workers is to share the praise they receive for a job well done. Call center managers can start by soliciting kudos and praise from customers, inviting them to write or email and share their experiences.

Once those praise notes start coming in, managers can post them to a central bulletin board where everyone can read them and congratulate the workers involved. Each employee can also receive a personalized copy of the praise note to hang on their cubicle wall.

Make it Personal

Managers can also encourage workers to go above and beyond the call of duty by sharing stories of how their work changes lives. The manager of a healthcare call center may receive a call from a member who was able to access a lifesaving test after receiving help from a representative. Sharing that information with workers makes the work personal and gives a human face to the customers they talk to every day.

Give Some One-on-One Time

An employee who gets called into the boss’ office might expect to receive bad news. Managers can turn that perception around by calling in workers who have achieved significant goals or done an outstanding job. That kind of one-on-one praise can be a wonderful motivator, and the chats also give managers a chance to solicit comments and improve their own feedback skills.

Celebrate Life

Managers can also motivate their workers by celebrating their milestones and achievements. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions is a good way to build camaraderie and foster teamwork. Managers can send physical or e-cards around the office, take up collections for gifts and host potluck lunches for birthdays and other occasions. The cost is minimal and the advantages can be substantial.

A Special Parking Space

Parking is a big deal in many offices, and spots right up front are often at a premium. Managers can motivate their workers by starting an employee of the month program that comes with a prime parking spot.

Set Up a Learning Library

Many workers want to enhance their skills and move up in the organization, but they may not know how to get started. Setting up a learning library of videos, DVDs, books and motivational materials is an excellent way to let workers work their way up and learn more about the business world.

Start an Employee Newsletter

People love to talk about what they do and what they have accomplished, and an employee newsletter is the perfect way for them to share with their coworkers. Managers can solicit stories, anecdotes and pictures from their workers, then use the information to start a monthly employee newsletter. Features can include a cover story on the employee of the month (complete with a picture of the coveted parking spot), pictures from the most recent birthday parties and other fun stories. 

Motivating employees is hard work, and that is not likely to change any time soon. Finding creative solutions to the motivation problem is what separates great managers from their less-accomplished peers.

Photo courtesy of Reynermedia on Flickr