Employee engagement doesn’t necessarily require throwing huge sums of money at your workforce and hoping it’ll produce results. It can be significantly subtler than that.

We all know the common things workers want in a job: good pay, benefits, health insurance, the possibility of promotion, and the opportunity to develop skills. Beyond these things, what really makes employees tick? What are the key motivators that will ensure they remain happy, loyal, and productive?

Here are six easy to implement non-financial incentives you could offer your employees to drive productivity and engagement. Why not give them a try?

1. Flexible Work Options

The world is changing, but many employers are failing to keep up with the rate of change. Today, a combination of sophisticated technologies and widespread desire for work/life balance is fueling the flexible work trend.

Under flexible work arrangements, employees can work from home a few days a week, change their shifts to meet their needs, or otherwise have more control over their working conditions. While the benefits to employees are obvious — more time with the family, less time and money spent on commuting, etc. — there are benefits to companies, too. These include higher levels of employee engagement, increased efficiency, and improved retention rates.

2. A Company Car

Offering company cars to employees who travel a lot is a fantastic way to show how much you care. Studies show that a company car is one of the most popular company perks. A company car can give an employee a sense of independence and autonomy. From a practical perspective, it means they don’t have to worry about filling out expense forms each month.

There are a lot of ways for employers to offer company cars at affordable rates, and each organization should research the options available in order to find the right plan for their needs.

3. Professional Development Plans

Employee incentivization is closely linked to professional development. Workers want to feel they have a sense of purpose within an organization. They want a clear career roadmap in front of them, including promotions, training opportunities, and other ways to advance professionally.

Giving employees more responsibility and helping them learn new skills that will benefit them going forward is a proven way to improve job satisfaction and staff retention, and it may even help lower absenteeism rates.

4. Small Gifts and Rewards

Sometimes, the smallest things mean the most. Employers don’t have to spend big in order to show employees how much they mean. Small perks like free fruit or a muffin basket, a Friday afternoon drink, or buying daily newspapers won’t harm your balance sheet too much. These perks will, however, demonstrate to your employees that you value them and are putting in effort to make them happy.

5. Recognition

For some employers, “thanks” is the hardest word of all to say. It’s common for employees to go above and beyond their job descriptions, yet they rarely receive recognition for these extraordinary efforts.

Saying thank you costs nothing, but it’s a major motivator. Research shows more than 80 percent of employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

6. Birthday Off as Holiday

Nobody wants to work on their birthday. Offering your employees the day off to relax and celebrate with their loved ones is an easy way to show your thanks for their work and support their work/life balance.

One extra day off every year is a small sacrifice for your business that will make a huge difference to employee morale. We all know that happier employees are more likely to stay on board.

Irma Hunkeler works for, a digital marketing agency.

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