Perks that Work: 5 Ways to Motivate a Team Beyond Money

I’m freaking out.  I’ve got so much to do, crazy deadlines and barely a budget to mention.  My team is overwhelmed and morale is affected. How can I motivate my group to accomplish more with less time and resources when I can’t offer to pay them more?

Good news!  It’s not always about bonuses and raises.  There are plenty of things that motivate professionals to work harder, be smarter, keep the passion and get it done.  The truth is, everyone wants to do a good job, to be productive, be appreciated and have a good quality life.  If you can help them achieve these things, you will have happy employees.  If you can make it happen . . . you can create a team of rock stars!


Everyone loves freedom.  Freedom from traffic.  Freedom from structure. Freedom from the boss. Freedom to work at home once in a while.  The virtual office makes people happy. It’s as simple as that.  This is the 21st century.  The office has changed.  We don’t work next to the factory floor, share information face-to-face or even need wired access to our central computer system.  Our reality is laptops and mobile devices that connect you anytime, anywhere; e-mail for ongoing communication; and conference calls for collaboration.  If you have a team of true professionals, you don’t keep track of them by the hour, but rather by their performance. If your employee was set on wasting time, they can just as easily surf the internet in the office as they can at home.

In fact, results of virtual office studies have shown many positive outcomes.  Employees often use their commute time to work – putting in more productive hours each day.  Those who take an hour off to run an errand or handle a personal matter, usually return the time in spades, energized and appreciative of their personal flexibility. Employees keeping track of their own virtual productivity report getting more accomplished; their managers report better quality work. The best solution appears to be a hybrid of office & virtual environments.  People are still social beings and like to feel part of a team, to share their work challenges and their progress and successes.  You know your team best.  Make it work for them. Offer more freedom, and you will get back more than you give.


Let’s face it. We’re not robots. Our lives are complicated.  Our kids are busy. Our spouses work and we are more involved with family, friends and community activities than ever before. All these things add to the stress level of even your best employees.  So you wonder, how can I help them do what they need to do so they can concentrate on the job that needs to get done?  How can I make sure they don’t view their workload negatively in light of everything else they have going on? The answer is there before you.  They need flexibility . . . give them some kind of flexibility in how they schedule their time. If they want to come in at 7:00am and leave earlier -  no problem.  If they can’t get in until 11:00 AM but are willing to cover the phones in the evening for the west coast customers… more power to them.  If they want to see their child’s afternoon recital and finish up at home after dinner . . . enjoy!

Best Buy recently embarked on this radical idea, calling it: ‘Smashing the Clock.’  No schedules. No mandatory meetings.  In a radical shift from the traditional work environment, Best Buy gave their employees complete flexibility over their hours. Work is no longer a place to go, but something you do. According to an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, BestBuy’s goal is to judge performance on output, not hours.  Within the first month of implementation – employee satisfaction was directly reflected in the results.  According to performance metrics within the Online Order department, not only was this team’s productivity up 13% to 18%, but job satisfaction and retention were the highest in this division’s history.

Flexibility makes people feel empowered to take control of their lives.  When you give your employee breathing space to get the job done, you are telling them: “I trust you. I believe in you. I know you won’t let me down.” And they won’t! In fact, they’ll probably do more.


Ask 100 people if they would rather get a $1,000 increase in pay or be recognized for a job well done and you may be surprised by the response.  Recognition is often more highly valued than an increase in pay and is one of the most effective ways to motivate employees according to a recent survey by the staffing firm Accountemps.  Employees place an enormous amount of value in pride, personal satisfaction and recognition among their peers and family.   Ever notice how employees hang their recognition plaques, certificates, trophies and medals where everyone can see them whenever you’re near their work space?  That’s called pride; and it’s tough to beat.

But your recognition must be sincere. Seek out special contributions that have really made a difference to the team or the organization.  Let everyone know how this effort helped or improved the business. Set a high standard for recognition, but be generous. Recognize those who deserve it in a big way.  Announce the award in front of the team or the entire company.  Be sure that co-workers and management are there to share in the event.  And let everyone know you appreciate the extraordinary effort this person made and the results that were achieved.  This is a wonderful way to show appreciation and let the entire team know what they can expect when they go above and beyond.


We’ve come a long way from the “I hate school” days.  Now, most professionals realize that company-sponsored training is a gift. It helps the employee be successful and thereby increases job satisfaction, morale and motivation.  Studies have shown that any mind that learns becomes more alert and more receptive to new ideas. With training, employees are more effective which is satisfying for the employee and beneficial to the organization. Turn on the mind and you turn up results.

Understanding that your employees are your most important assets clearly points to the need to refresh and make the most of these assets.  A company is only limited by the ideas and passion of its employees.  Training unleashes the mind, creates an environment that encourages new ideas and ultimately results in a better, more productive working environment.  Employee training is one of the best investments a company can make.

Productive Products

Sometimes “stuff” makes us happy.  Stuff like new shoes, tickets to the big game or the coolest app for your phone.  Since I’m all about productivity and personal performance, the things that make me happy are those things that help me make the most of my time. Give your employee a fun little gadget that will make their day easier and you have introduced them to a new toy that will improve their life….

Paper, paper and more paper. Give in.  Embrace it and scan it.  The Neat Company has the most innovative and simple desktop solutions to keep track of every piece of paper that lands on your desk, or in your lap. Scan receipts, business cards, documents, forms . . . all those papers you want to keep track of, but don’t feel like tracking down. It just simplifies life.  Ahhhh…… Nothing like a clean desk.

Talk, talk and more talk.  Between conference calls and customers, many people have a stiff neck from holding the phone on their shoulder all day, especially if they take notes or type while talking. My first recommendation would be to bring in a masseuse once a week to rid everyone of their shoulder stiffness.  But if that seems excessive, a simple wireless headset would be most appreciated. Not only does it reduce shoulder tension, but it actually increases productivity allowing the user to take notes, get up from their desk to access materials out of reach or even walk to another office.  Give your employees a gift that helps them feel better and they will work.

Your money or your life!

Of course, we choose life.  Give your employees a good quality of life and they will be loyal, motivated and productive.

When professionals are effective, do quality work and achieve their personal and professional goals, they are motivated to accomplish more than they ever thought possible. That is what my book, PERFORM LIKE A ROCK STAR and Still Have Time for Lunch, is all about.  Take the mystery out of success by focusing on the things that really matter. Accomplish breakthrough goals that will move you to another level in your professional and personal life. And attain peak performance that will build momentum for great results and a rock star quality of life.  Find it at

Orna Drawas is the author of: PERFORM LIKE A ROCK STAR and Still Have Time for Lunch. She believes that if you want to go places in this crazy, fast-paced, competitive business world . . . and still get the most enjoyment out of life . . . then you’ve got to think, act and perform like a rock star. She is also a member of The Neat Company’s Neat Fleet, a dream team of digital organizers who offer tips and advice to the Neat Community. Join Orna for a live chat about professional and personal productivity on Wednesday July 28 at 2 p.m. ET – register here.

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5 Responses to “ Perks that Work: 5 Ways to Motivate a Team Beyond Money ”

  1. I’m reading: “Perks that Work: 5 Ways to Motivate a Team Beyond Money.”

  2. amy says:


    As always you hit the topics square on the nose…every one of your tips is relevant for our clients and most if not all see productivity and morale improve when they are implemented. Kepp reinforcing these reasonablly easy additionals to any culture.


  3. Great guest post on ConstructivelyProductive from Orna Drawas

  4. If you have a team to manage, check out Orna Drawas’s piece on ConstructivelyProductive:

  5. Great article –> RT @alihale If you have a team to manage, check out Orna Drawas’s piece on ConstructivelyProductive:

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