How To Motivate Your Employees (Without Spending a Dime)

motivate your employees big sky franchise teamDo your employees feel engaged? Appreciated? According to a poll from the Corporate Leadership Council, employees who feel engaged and motivated were 87 percent less likely to leave their jobs than employees who don’t.  So for franchise companies and small business owners alike, the golden question is this: How do we motivate – and keep – our employees?


A new book might hold the answer: In Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivation, author Dan Ariely found through his research that food, more so than compliments or even money, increased productivity among employees.


In one study, three groups of employees were given either pizza, compliments, or a cash bonus as a reward for their productivity at the end of one work day. Researchers found that the employees who were offered pizza ramped up their productivity by 6.7 percent compared to the control group (who received nothing). Employees who received compliments increased productivity by 6.6 percent, while the cash bonus, surprisingly, only increased productivity by a mere 4.9 percent.


Over the course of a week, however, the compliments ended up motivating the employees more than the pizza or the money did. Which is not surprising when you take other statistics into account: In a survey carried out by Janice Kaplan in her book The Gratitude Diaries, Kaplan found that 81 percent of employees said they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.


Clearly, employees who feel appreciated are willing to work harder, stay around longer, and make for a more successful brand. So how else can we motivate them?


According to a recent article on, employees are also heavily motivated by professional development (like bringing in speakers and sending employees to conferences), increased vacation time, and opportunities to work from home.


But if vacation time, working from home, or pizza parties just won’t work for your franchise, research suggests one more (completely free) tactic to motivate employees – particularly ones under the age of thirty.


In a Pew study, researchers found that millennials valued helping people even higher than they valued money. Millennials, who are generally social, compassionate and service-oriented, reported feeling more engaged in their job when they are able to serve the community or help other people in some way.

With this in mind, franchisors should try to involve their franchisees in the larger community, be it through a fundraising drive for a local charity, a community outreach event, or simply by using company resources for a good cause.

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