How To Boost Employee Morale with No Cost

A Few Creative Techniques Small Businesses Can Do to Create a Friendlier Work Atmosphere

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For small and medium businesses, you know that employees are your most valuable resources. You invest in your employees: you spend a lot of time and energy training them, and you want to keep them at peak performance level and increase productivity. It’s important to retain great employees — you realize they can find other jobs. Reducing employee turnover saves you time, money, and effort!

If you own a small or medium-sized business, you may not be able to simply increase pay rates, or to offer cash bonuses. To remain competitive, appreciate employees, and boost morale, what can you do? Here are great tips for no-cost methods to keep your great employees — and keep them “up”!

  1. Let employees teach their coworkers. Show your employees that you value their input. Hold a monthly staff meeting and put a couple of “problem areas” on the agenda (for example, “Procedures for refunding credit card transactions”) — areas in which your staff needs to improve. Two weeks before the meeting, approach a couple of your employees and ask them to prepare to train on the “problem areas” at the staff meeting. Not only are you delegating, thereby taking more responsibilities off your plate, but you are also giving some employees the opportunity to research and learn about the business. You get their buy-in. Also it acknowledges their expertise in front of their peers. This method shows your trust in their skills and professionalism. And it’s an opportunity to personally work one-on-one with various employees to pass on your business philosophy and training. 

    Before the meeting, be sure to review their training material and guide them in the proper direction. Choose different employees to present training items at each meeting. The bonus: employees will be more involved at the meeting and will pay attention because their co-worker is presenting the training.

  2. Award certificates for recognition. Take time to show appreciation and recognition to employees. For many staff members, appreciation and recognition are more important and meaningful than a financial pay raise or a position promotion. Print a colorful certificate or award form. Choose a different employee to recognize each month. Present the certificate at a staff meeting. Hang up the award in a visible place -- reception room or break room. Reasons for recognition include: Most improved, Job well done, Excellent customer service, Teamwork over&above. Recognize those who may not receive much recognition, and rotate awards among staff members. For added impact, you can make a big deal with colorful balloons and room decorations when presenting it. 

    Another variation is to recognize an “Employee of the Month”, selected either by objective criteria (number of sales) or by taking votes (from employees or customers). Make it a fun contest! Reward the recipient with a special parking place, a gift basket, or a dinner gift certificate at a favorite restaurant. Tip: visit for nifty gift certificates, or buy awards at your local office supply store.

  3. Share library of personal development. Bring in your personal development and leadership materials — books, CD’s, and DVD’s. Label each book with your contact info and then type up a master list of the books. Make a check-out sheet and allow employees to check out materials each week. It will give you a good idea of those who are interested in moving ahead, in your organization and in life. Great topics include: leadership, goal setting, relationships, customer service, exercise, marriage, nutrition, work skills. If you don’t already have a “Success Library”, refer to the links at the bottom of the article for excellent websites with personal development training materials.
  4. Offer supplemental benefits. Allow employees to enroll in voluntary benefit plans which are payroll deducted. Everyone knows about AFLAC. Now two of the hottest benefits are Identity Theft Shield and Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. Empower your employees by giving them some ammunition to deal with everyday life events. Simple things like consulting an attorney when needed and getting a comprehensive Will completed. And to combat becoming a victim of identity theft — continuous credit monitoring alerts. Employers have found that their staff are very grateful to have the opportunity to enroll in these plans! Employees pay their monthly membership through payroll deduction, so although there is no cost to the employer, it adds tremendous value to your company. Bonus: Employees can now focus more on their jobs, reducing absenteeism and presenteeism.
  5. Plan a fun teamworking event. An excellent opportunity to show teamwork outside of the workplace, activities can include: a Ropes Course (teamwork facilitation) as offered at your local association; kayaking at the beach; or a sports game such as bowling. Even better — an event that allows maximum participation from everyone and gives a sense of pride in the community, or shows caring for less-fortunate folks. For instance, you and your staff could volunteer at a local parade/festival, or cook and serve a meal at the soup kitchen. If you want to hire a professional company to help you facilitate teamworking, try Adventure Associates.
  6. Spotlight in e-newsletter. Send a monthly e-newsletter to your customers (that means you should start collecting email addresses now). In each newsletter, tell about your company’s services, and also highlight one of your employees. Include a photo of your employee standing in front of your store. Tell what your company has accomplished, thanks to your employees. Show that their contributions are important. They will be flattered to be recognized. Another great idea is to include employees in a print ad, such as the newspaper. One tip: don’t send news too frequently or the email will end up in the spam folders!
  7. Have a party. Celebrate and let everyone know you personally like them. For a family setting, host the party at your house. If there’s nice weather outside, plan it at a park. Be sure to invite the employees’ families or ask them to each bring a guest. The theme can revolve around a holiday, but it doesn’t have to. It can announce a special milestone your company has reached, due to your great employees. And the no-cost part? Have each employee sign up to bring a dish, such as: salad, main dish, side dish, or dessert. As a bonus, have a holiday gift exchange and ask everyone to bring a small wrapped gift. Draw names out of a hat to find out who gets what gift and watch them enjoy the surprise of unwrapping!
  8. Birthday = Holiday. Show you care about each individual who is part of your team — they get to take their birthday as a holiday! In other words, they get the day off with pay. This can be the ultimate compliment to show your employees that they are important and you value them. A birthday is a significant day in each person’s life, so send off your employees to spend the day relaxing. Remember to have everyone sign the birthday card ahead of time, so they can read it on their day off!
  9. Post affirmations. Have fun, be happy! Model your customer service philosophy by posting positive affirmations in visible places — under the clock, above bathroom mirrors, near the coffee pot. Motivate your staff to be their best. Suggest that employees submit their favorite sayings, such as “Our customers love us because we’re making a difference.” A bonus: show your employees that they’re part of a great mission by posting great client feedback comments and letters. Also frame terrific newspaper articles about your company. If you can spend money, Marlin Company offers a simple, innovative employee communication program. They provide “eye-catching material” which is “informative, motivational and inspirational”.

The bottom line is that you can create an uplifting culture which centers around your company’s values. Things like teamwork, loyalty, and pride. You can just boost your employee morale by simply showing your caring. Value your employees and they will know you’re sincere. Generosity can be shown in many methods besides money!


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Good Article. I particularly liked your 2 ideas "Employee photo" in the e-news letter and Birthday=holiday. The later is a fabulous new idea!

By the way, thanks for visiting and commenting on my "How to make a brochure" article.

By Anonymous

Great article. Keeping employees motivated and engaged is mutually beneficial too, as they are likely to be more focused and perform better at their jobs -- in turn, saving the company money.

By Chris Corbett

Very complete information. Thank you.

By Marcos Riso