4 Ways To Motivate Employees So It Feels Like A Promotion

Offering employees a promotion is not always achievable. However, there are still ways to retain staff and boosting their motivation.


When working on a corporate strategy, employees should always be a part that deserves special attention. If they are satisfied with their roles and work-life balance, there is every chance their productivity levels will remain high and company targets will be hit. Knowing that your work is recognized, preferably in a form of promotion, is one of the strongest motivators because it's both appreciating hard work and rewarding it. However, often companies can't necessarily give promotions for a number of reasons, from finances through to company structure. So how do you motivate employees when promotion is not an option? Here are 4 ways:

Showing recognition

A salary rise may be a strong motivator, but it's almost meaningless if employees don't feel like they play an important role in a company. So despite having a need to pay the bills, they also want their work to be recognized. One of the ways to do it is to show trust by giving an employee more freedom in decision-making and trusting their working style. It doesn't mean giving more jobs to do, but highlighting the employees' skills and talents that make them unique and valuable members of the company.

Money can come in different shapes and sizes

If certain factors don't let promotions happen more often, financial appreciation of employees can still be there, just in a different form. Companies can provide more bonuses for hit targets, but also, employees can be awarded shares of the company. The Employee Stock Option (ESO) allows an employee to buy a certain amount of a company's stocks for a specific period of time. It differs from an exchange-traded form, so these stocks cannot be traded between investors on an exchange basis. The rewarding process starts when the stock price goes up over time, by aligning incentives between shareholders and employees. Such schemes are beneficial, as it becomes truly worth it working on a companies’ goals and checking how your company's stock prices are doing in the market.


Even though promotion is a boost in finance and appreciation, it is also a short-term effect. Today, self-growth is a priority for many, and if we refer to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it's called 'metamotivation' - a never-ending hunger for improvement. Metamotivation takes place when people are self-actualized and striving beyond the scope of their basic needs to reach their full potential. It's not a promotion that is a drive, but an opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and experience. It can be in the form of courses, coaching, foreign language lessons and other forms - but most importantly, employees should have a choice in what they want to learn and achieve - that's when they will feel truly rewarded.

Motivating millennials

Millennials are a growing workforce that is taking over corporate corridors. According to the PwC report 'Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace’, the group will be representing 50% of the global workforce by 2020. The generation differs from Baby Boomers, especially in regards to their aspirations in a career. According to the same study, due to witnessing ongoing uncertainties in the economy, millennials tend to think about their needs first and only then those of a company. Incentive programs are one of the ways to motivate them, so the environment they work in is comfortable. A lot can be achieved by leveraging the power of workstyle benefits without stretching a budget. These can include winning 'work-from-home' days, 'casual outfit days', a right to choose preferred parking spots, exclusive lunches - an effective reward scheme that can be done regularly, encouraging a competitive spirit within teams.

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