Keeping your employees happy and productive is the key to a successful business. Employees who aren’t happy will arrive late, work less and leave their jobs when something better comes along. Your goal as a business owner should be to become that better place. While higher salaries help, sometimes it simply isn’t in the budget. Thankfully, there are many other ways to increase morale and retain employees without spending more money. Here are some ideas.

1. Ask your employees what motivates them.

Every employee is different, and what works for one might not work for the rest. With face-to-face conversations, you can get to know your employees and find out how to best reward them for their time and efforts. This makes them feel happier and boosts their morale. AON global employee engagement research suggest that employee engagement surveys offer a cost effective way of measuring how employees are currently thinking; hearing and acting. Managers are the critical link in the engagement and performance of your employees (and as employees themselves), segmentation of survey results and targeted actions can double the return on your investment.

2. Make the office fun for them.

Once you know what they like, you can tailor events, contests and games to boost employee engagement. As long as everything is kept in good spirits, you can host contests and parties of many sorts. Just make sure you don’t plan a party with a theme no one enjoys.

3. Transparency helps a great deal.

When your employees feel like they know the direction the company is taking, the policies on the horizon and the goals they need to accomplish, they are much more invested in what they’re doing. Keeping them informed also helps cut down on malicious gossip, unfounded rumors and misplaced fears that harm production in the end.

4. Reward your employees in tangible ways.

Cash bonuses are short term. You need something more personal in your total rewards package. Allow employees to work from home once a week to save them the hassle of a commute. If they earn a cash bonus, instead offer to treat them to dinner for a memorable experience.

5. Training is a great reward.

Ambitious employees are highly valuable and productive, but if you don’t offer them room to grow, they’ll out-grow your business and move on to somewhere else. Offer them training programs to keep them honing their skills, while improving productivity at the same time.

6. Keep your management down to earth.

What incentive does an employee have to please a CEO they’ve never seen? If the upper management is available and engaging with their employees, those employees can build a personal relationship. This means, then, that they have personal incentive to please their new friends.

7. Remember your employees are people, not just cogs in a machine.

People have individual needs and emotions. Allow them sick days when they’re sick, and send a card or flowers. Learn their names. Every personal touch helps them feel like you care. In turn, they feel better about putting in the effort to succeed.

8. Involve your employees in important projects and give them responsibility.

No one knows better what helps and hinders workflow than your employees. Keeping them involved in the process helps makes them feel important. Beyond that, it helps them benefit their own jobs, making things easier for everyone involved.

9. Keep your employees involved with the result of their work.

If you’re creating a product or a service that helps the community, let your employees attend so they can see the tangible benefits. Even positive reviews and thank you cards can be shared among your workers for a boost to morale.

10. Recognise the individual.

If a specific employee does something worthy of recognition, give them that recognition. Compliment any outstanding job. Hold brainstorming sessions and put employee ideas into action, making sure everyone knows whose idea it was. This keeps employees feeling as if they’re part of something greater and that their effort has an impact.

All it takes is a little time, effort and brainstorming to come up with plenty of ways to bolster employee morale. It can all be done without the budget required for cash bonuses and higher salaries.

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