Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | January 24, 2010

Raising Employee Morale without Breaking the Corporate Piggy Bank

By Jonathan Rapoport
Great Work Perks

In this lean economic climate, Wall Street-sized bonuses and pay raises for a job well done are a thing of the past.  How can you boost employee morale without breaking the bank? The answer to that question is simpler than you think.

This past year, I noticed that more employers than ever were signing up for offers through my company,, at a rate that nearly doubled my company-client list.  When I spoke to the human resource managers of large companies and the owners of small businesses, they all had a similar reason for joining our free program: save money and resources while improving employee morale. Over 100 companies joined our program after layoffs and mergers solely to make employees happier.  In my daily interactions with these managers, I began to realize that finding low or no cost ways to do this was a challenge.  After polling employees from over 500 companies on ways they think employers can improve morale without spending a lot of money, I found that people are not always looking for big bonuses or raises to make them happy. They are looking for the simple niceties that bring fun, energy and respect into the workplace. Here are some of the ideas culled from employee suggestions:

  • Give staff creative forums to share brainstorming ideas in order to improve company performance and reward them if they can bring the idea to fruition. A forum might be a “town hall” type meeting where members of different departments meet with senior level management or the CEO to discuss what works, what doesn’t work and how things could work better. Organizing these each month can be effective in keeping open lines of communication.
  • Potluck lunches once a quarter or even once a month are a great way to bring work teams together in a casual environment. An easy way to accomplish this is to have different departments organize the luncheons or assign each department certain food items to contribute.
  • In conjunction with the potlucks, arrange lunchtime “board game Olympics” where employees can bring in their favorite board games and play tournament-style games. In word games like Scrabble and Bananagrams, offer bonus points to those employees that spell words relevant to your industry or business.
  • Emailing a trivia question once a week can break up the monotony of the work week especially if you offer the winners inexpensive prizes like gift cards for coffee or movie tickets.
  • Have an optional charitable service day once a year where employees can volunteer for different causes as a team. An organization like The United Way offers their massive “Day of Caring” each year, uniting workers with volunteer opportunities in local communities. You might also consider offering a certain amount of hours a month that employees can use toward volunteering at the organization of their choice.
  • Incorporate employee perk programs like those offered through my company at to provide employees with valuable discounts to local restaurants, spas, amusement parks and shows.
  • Reward an employee for a project well done with an extra day or half-day off. Recognition like this could also be extended to a peer reward program where employees that receive a certain number of kudos from their colleagues can be eligible for additional vacation time or other rewards.
  • Choose a month each year and give employees 1/2 day Fridays for the whole month or let employees go home an hour early if their work is done. Summer is the favored time for this practice due to summer vacation schedules.
  • Bring in a chair massage therapist, nutritionist, or yoga instructor to help reduce stress and promote overall health. Many health insurance providers are promoting workplace walking programs and other health initiatives at no cost to their members in an effort to reduce health care premiums.

Events like health fairs and health screenings will not only improve your employees’ health but can reduce sick days and improve productivity.

Incorporating various employee perks and programs like those outlined above can be easy. But the most effective and desirable morale booster just might be the simplest: expressing your respect and appreciation for your employees often and with sincerity can make a big difference. Employees who feel appreciated will strive to be worthy of recognition, making a happier workplace for all.



  1. I am a huge advocate of volunteerism in the workplace. It is critical for employees to feel that their office is connected to what is important to them. Providing a positive outlet for people to give back is very important to employees of this generation. Great post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: