Maintaining a business is difficult enough on a tight budget. The financial struggles can often cause leaders to forget a small yet very important factor: employee motivation. Most business owners know by now that the happier the employees are in the workplace, the more productive they are. This ultimately reflects on all aspects of your business. Simply put, investing in your employees is investing in your business. But investing in your employees might seem overwhelming now amidst the COVID-19 crisis which has left small businesses struggling to survive. However, there are ways to achieve this without spending a lot of money. We bring you 5 ways to motivate your employees on a shoestring budget. Know Your Employees The first step towards increasing your employees’ motivation is knowing what they really want. What would help motivate them? Of course, fair compensation goes without saying, it’s what motivates many of us. However, money is not all they want. In fact, you’d be surprised how many employees would accept a lower-paying position if the job is fulfilling, flexible, and in a healthy environment. According to Forbes , permanent flexibility, a commitment to wellness, and a sense of purpose are among the essential needs and wants of employees nowadays. What does all this mean? It means that a tight budget should not be an obstacle to your efforts. You can offer different kinds of benefits and perks such as flexible hours, remote working, paid sick days, opportunity for advancement, etc. According to a survey on Glassdoor, 4 out of 5 employees prefer perks and benefits over a pay raise. Offering these benefits will help you motivate employees and retain talent. The first step should, therefore, be asking your employees about their wants, aspirations, and ambitions. Once you get a list of things they would find attractive, figure out which of these benefits you are able to offer them. Be Flexible Our needs and wants have evolved and so a 9 to 5 work scheme is no longer acceptable for many of us. For example, Millennials are concerned with the question of flexibility more than compensation, retirement, and finances in general. If you haven’t done that already, it’s time to offer your employees the possibility of remote working for at least one day per month or week, as well as flexible arrival and departure times. What many business owners still fail to understand is that employees have personal lives and kids, and forcing them to be at the office from 9 to 5 every single day is not possible for many of them. They are sacrificing many things for that and as a result, they are unhappy in the workplace. Trust your employees that they will get the job done even if they arrive at 11 a.m. or decide to work from home that day (remote working is not a code for watching TV all day, btw). Remote workers don’t have to commute, therefore, they save time and are well-rested. This reflects positively on your business as they have more energy to focus on work. Become a Good Listener Being receptive is very important as it shows employees that you listen and acknowledge their ideas, opinions, etc. Do your part to help them feel that they can come to you with their thoughts and needs. On the other hand, if employees are in fear of expressing their opinions and feel that they can’t speak freely with you, this will hinder their productivity. Good communication is the key to keeping employees happy and productive. Offer Discounts Another way you can motivate your employees is by offering them discounts on your products. You can go one step further and form partnerships with other businesses that will give them discounts on their products and services. Provide Feedback Complimenting an employee on a job well done will do wonders for their self-confidence in the office. What’s more, it will encourage them to keep going. You are not only their boss but their leader and you have the power to influence their growth and development. Feedback is very important when it comes to that. Give constructive feedback that will help them grow, not hinder their confidence and make them want to slack off in the future. Instead of vague, general comments, the key is in giving specific and useful feedback so that the employee knows what to work on. It’s all in the approach you choose. As you can see, motivating your employees on a shoestring budget may be challenging but it is feasible. More importantly, some of the above mentioned things mean so little to you but so much to them. Your employees will feel more relaxed and satisfied in the workplace and they will value what you did for them. All the effort you invested will pay off.