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5 great ways to motivate your employees beyond their salary

The coronavirus pandemic has reached all corners of the planet and changed our lives in one way or another. It has forced the world to slow down in a lot of aspects, the most important one being the economy and everything that surrounds it. 

We live in a highly competitive world, in which, for years, salaries, healthcare benefits and holiday time have been the deal breaker when choosing one position or the other. With a ‘generational change’ and startups coming to life, this is slowly shifting. Nowadays, nearly half of the working population is composed of millennials, who are known to value work-life balance, flexibility and experiences. Not only are they pickier about who they work for, but they also take a deeper look into the values and culture of the company. 

This year and the upcoming ones will be tough for a lot of businesses around the globe. Most have been, and will require to, cut down as many costs as possible, one of them being freezing salaries. Communicating this to a team might not be the easiest task for a manager, but before doing so it might be good to get the leadership team together and work on some non-monetary motivations for the employees that revolve around building up a stronger company culture, rewarding employees for their outstanding work and giving them a better work-life balance. 

Below we highlight 5 great ways to motivate your startup employees beyond their salaries. 

1. Recognise a job well done

Recognising someone’s work shouldn’t have to be pointed out, but sometimes words like “well done” and “thank you” are left unsaid without even realising it. These two phrases can go a long way and boost the confidence and overall self-esteem of a person. Recognition creates an emotional connection between the team member, the manager and team that keeps people engaged, connected and motivated. 

Heads-up though: Make sure to divide the congratulations and give them on special occasions. Sometimes, congratulating someone in particular too much or for little day-to-day things can divide a team and create an unmotivated environment towards other team members. 

2. Flexibility

Work from home and remotely has become the new normal in just a few months. We have learnt that we do not really need to be at the office everyday and that ‘9 to 5’ is slowly vanishing to let work-life balance become a core value to employees. 

Flexibility translates into understanding that employees have other lives outside of work and helping them to accommodate their work around this as much as possible. This goes further than the three paid weeks-off and some work-from-home days. In fact, many companies are adapting some aspects indefinitely, like remote work opportunities, flex-time and allowing pets, and sometimes even kids, at work.  Giving employees the tranquility of knowing that they can accommodate their work to their life is beneficial for them, their engagement and overall performance. There’s no price on time. 

3. Office perks

There are many ways this one can go. The office and its design can be seen as a perk, but most importantly, it can be the key factor to creating a strong company culture and enhance the importance of teamwork. This is all possible when the space is well thought out to create bridges between teams and give them the opportunity to work together more often. 

Other small details like a coffee machine or a basket of fresh fruit is also highly welcomed by employees, as it shows appreciation and encourages a healthy environment. If you want to go the extra mile, some companies also host monthly breakfasts with special goodies that make people head into the office 30 minutes earlier. If you see that your employees are more into after-work activities, hosting a monthly free drinks afternoon in a nearby bar is another good option.

5. Create a good environment 

We spend most of our day at the office, therefore it’s important to make sure that employees have the greatest experience while working and feel part of something bigger than just positive results at the end of the day. Communication is one of the most important steps towards creating a hard working and well-functioning team. Giving employees the opportunity to speak up, share and put their ideas into action are some actions that are greatly appreciated and help to boost their confidence and feel appreciated in the company. 

Having a good company environment motivates employees to go into work every morning and impacts positively on their performance. Going to work knowing that your voice is heard and that you have a team to lean on are two of the best feelings in the world. 

Making sure that your company’s values and culture are at the centre of the organization and everything you do. This builds trust, motivates the employees to support these values and live by them, as well as becoming a brand ambassador of the company. 

5. Offer experiences

To close down the list we’re pointing out something that we think is going to take off in the current economic situation. With events and team building activities being complicated at the moment, it’s time to find other ways to reward and engage employees.

In the beginning of the year most employees were forced to shift to work from home and remote without any previous notice. This change might have affected their performance due to the newness of the situation, but also because of the lack of office supplies and a workspace at home. Offer the opportunity to financially help your employees have what they need to do their work. If they have a second screen at the office, make it possible for it to be delivered at their home as well as other day-to-day things they might need to be able to work. 

Granting experiences to your employees can come in many shapes and forms, depending on the person, the company and the financial capabilities. Some companies host workshops, webinars and language lessons in-house, while others prefer to have team building activities. There is no right or wrong in this case, it comes down to knowing what your team would appreciate more. 


The current situation is tough and complicated in many ways, but it’s in times like these that we get the creative juices flowing and find ways to make it work with less. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we can and want to do that we don’t give attention to the economic impact that it can have. 

Yes, salary is important but it’s even more important to wake up every day and be excited to go to work, see your colleagues and find ways to make someone else’s life a little better with your product or service. For this reason, we stand by the fact that building up a company culture that is based on cooperation, communication, employee recognition and a good work-life balance is the right way to go in the world we live in.

Anna Font
Anna Font
Anna is a Freelance Content Marketer based in Barcelona, specialising in content marketing for B2B startups. She's a bit of a startup nerd, interested in remote work, and passionate about photography and everything travel related.

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