Three Ways to Motivate Employees Without Spending a Penny

Follow these three no-cost steps and you will have a distinct advantage over your competitors. These things will also improve retention, boost production, reduce turnover, and enhance safety. 

When jobs were scarce and candidates were plentiful, employee job satisfaction wasn’t as big of a concern.  If someone didn’t want to work, then fine.  There were a dozen candidates ready to take their place.  Now qualified candidates at the semi-skilled and skilled position levels are scarce.  Employee job satisfaction is a concern.  You want to keep the good ones because the alternative is too painful.

So how do you attract and keep the best candidates?  Most supervisors will say that the #1 motivator for employees is money.  Now while your wage needs to be competitive, employees on a scale of 1 – 10 ranked more money as #5!  Job Satisfaction ranked #1.

Recent studies show that employees are looking for three things.  And just to reiterate, all of these things cost nothing, but they will help you attract and keep the best candidates.  They are looking for:

  1. A Plan for Growth

  2. A Plan to get Upskill Training

  3. A Plan for Getting Them Involved

A Plan for Growth

If you consider what many companies do with their C-level and leadership positions, this one makes total sense.  With C-level and leadership positions, we would annually review employee job experiences to see if an individual had any holes in their background which could be filled with a change of position.

Employees are the same way. Consider the following two options for the scenario below:

Company: “We are looking for people that want to make a career at the company. Your job is polishing doorknobs.”

Employee: “Great!  What’s my next step after that?  Where can I expect to be 3 years from now?”

Option 1 –

Company A: “Great question.  Well, we don’t have anything formalized right now, but your job is polishing doorknobs!”

Option 2 –

Company B: “Great question!  We want you to grow to be the Chief of Building Polishing. First, you will polish doorknobs, then we will train you to polish bigger doorknobs. When you’ve mastered that, we will assign you to polish doorknobs in the Executive Suite. After that we will make you the Chief of Doorknob Polishing.”

Where would you prefer to work?  And having a plan costs nothing!

A Plan for Upskill Training

Upskilling is the training and/or education of new or upgraded skills in order to advance an individual’s career.  Amazon/Gallup did a study in 2021 and found that 57% of the more than 15,000 workers who were surveyed were “extremely” or “very” interested in upskilling.  There are two types of skills on which you can train people.  This is something that military veterans are accustomed to from the day they entered basic training.  These are job skills and leadership skills.

First, individuals need to be able to perform a specific job.  Let’s say they are a Machinist.  But if you have different types of equipment, you could have a plan to train them on different pieces of equipment.  They become Machinists for multiple pieces of equipment.

The second part is leadership training.  Maybe they start as a Machinist, but then they become a Lead Machinist.  Some companies do this.  The Machinist has been trained so they can setup the equipment and teach others to do the same.  The Lead Machinist is gaining improved machine skills and leadership skills at the same time.

A Plan to Involve People

The next area to improve employee job satisfaction is training.  Another study indicated that people that are involved in training at work have greater retention, have improved productivity, are more creative, and support greater customer satisfaction.  (See “Effects of Training on Employee Performance” By Jerry Shaw Updated Mar 19, 2019 (

An area that’s frequently used to involve employees is safety.  Safety committees are a great way to get employees involved and get feedback from workers as they see issues all the time. 

Employee involvement can pay huge dividends in accidents avoided.  An aviation service company in Los Angeles actually had a guy killed on the job because the brakes on a vehicle didn’t work.  During after-accident investigation, everyone admitted that the piece of equipment was faulty.  The workers had just learned to live with it because management knew the brakes were bad but did nothing to fix them.  An employee safety committee that’s supported by management could have prevented that accident.

Employee job satisfaction is now a big concern for companies.  You can train and motivate employees with these no-cost steps.  Give the employees: 1. A plan for growth, 2. A plan to upskill their abilities, and 3. A plan for getting involved in their job.  Do this and the company will reap huge benefits by attracting better workers and keeping your best workers.  Your competition isn’t taking these kinds of steps to train and motivate their workers, so do these things and imagine the competitive advantage you will have.

For more information, contact Jack Evans (623) 777-0701 or

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