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Top 5 Ways How to Motivate your Employees Without Money

When building a startup, you need a strong team onboard. But a strong team needs motivation – and startups, well, they lack finances. But we have good news: money is not the only thing that can motivate your employees to be productive. Here are five tips that we learned from the people who know everything about motivating people on a budget — NGOs and non-profit organizations.

Money motivation

Provide comfortable working conditions

One of the main reasons people quit corporations is lack of freedom and strict schedules. In a startup, you have to treat your team as your cofounders — which means that you believe they also carry responsibility for the company’s success. You wouldn’t make a cofounder clock in, would you? Giving your team trust and flexibility can motivate them to become stronger without spending a penny. 

Give your people the opportunity to grow

We don’t always only work for money, right? Getting an interesting experience is also one of the perks of working for a startup that you can provide without spending money. If you have a small team, then you are able to talk to each member individually and find out what kind of specialists they wish to become. And if you have the opportunity to support them in their goals by providing courses, getting them internships or distributing tasks in a way that lets them grow, these employees will stay with you. Letting people grow with you (and your company) is a great way to motivate your team without money and grow a network of powerful specialists. 

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Provide employees with lieu time

Work hard play hard — that’s definitely about startups. If your team works hard during sprints, let them rest in between. If your team always feels secure and team members know that they can take a day off as long as all of their tasks are done, it will provide them the feeling of an additional reward for the work done (at no cost for you). 

Give employees the power to make decisions 

Another reason people join startups is the ability to grow fast. From a developer to a CTO in under two years? That would never be possible in a corporation. So, if you’re seeing someone who is willing to take on more, let them! For many ambitious leaders, having extra responsibility is a reward in itself. But, of course, you have to keep in mind that as soon as you land your first investments, you have to compensate your team for the extra time and effort they put into work. 

Give employees access to your network 

Having a large network of contacts is a sign of a professional — so if your employees show interest in meeting someone (investors, partners, etc.), let them! Organize meetings for the team, set up strategic sessions, make sure that you provide your people the connections they might need to build their own career paths. Sharing valuable contacts is a powerful, no-cost motivation. And don’t be scared that your employees will leave — most probably, if you take good care of your team, they will take good care of you and your product. And even if they eventually choose to leave your company, they might become your future partners. 

Do you know any other ways you can motivate your employees besides monetary compensation? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Miriam Rawles


  • The biggest way to stimulate people without money is to give them the place they will want to work for for free – cool projects, a great team, job perspectives. And they will put their heart and soul into it.

  • That’s all true but you don’t take into account that NGOs are non-commercial for a reason – the people who work there are there for a specific cause – and that’s not applicable for commercial companies, because on that market you’re competing with the salaries you offer

  • Cool, I always try to find ways to stimulate the team – you’re right, if you care about people – they will care about you too

  • It is true – lieu time is a valuable thing and startups don’t give enough of it. If you’re always on the grind but always short on money – that’s a way to burning out real quick.

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