Sometimes it can be difficult to motivate your employees if business is slow. There are other factors for low motivation too, such as the season or personal matters. How can you increase your employees’ motivation? Two important tactics are friendly competition and employee appreciation.

Friendly competition can be a source of motivation for employees to succeed at work. Charles M. Schwab, an American steel magnate known for making Bethlehem Steel and becoming the second-largest steelmaker in the U.S., once said, “the way things get done is to stimulate competition.” Schwab encouraged a friendly rivalry between the day and night shifts at Bethlehem Steel by writing each shift’s production numbers on the mill floor. This helped increase overall production since both shifts were trying to outperform the other.

In today’s business realm, competition can encourage innovation and creativity. It encourages employees to think and act outside of their comfort zone. It also can help employees become more productive by performing in potentially new and innovative ways.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage friendly competition among your employees:

  • Employees who have the most sales each month receive gift cards to their favorite restaurants.
  • Employees receive a raffle ticket for each sale they make.
  • Employees who outline the best business solution(s) of the quarter, year, etc. receives a bonus.

As for employee appreciation, a Gallup survey of more than 80,000 employees found that 82% said that appreciation motivates them to improve their job performance, and a key factor for this motivation is regular praise and recognition from their managers.

Companies like Google show appreciation to their employees by offering 100,000 hours of free massages. Employees at NetApp, a multinational storage and data management company, receive calls from senior managers when they’re “caught doing something right.”

You can employ appreciation tactics with your employees as well. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Birthday shoutouts.
  • Recognizing an employee for a job well done on a particularly difficult project.
  • Ordering a catered lunch to express your appreciation to your employees.
  • Featuring an employee in your monthly or quarterly newsletter who did something truly spectacular for your company.

Employees need to be motivated. At the same time, they like to feel appreciated and want to see the difference they are making in their organization and be recognized for it. Whether you’re in the steel business or healthcare, friendly competition and rewards’ systems can be beneficial for your employees’ well-being and motivation which ultimately leads to improved retention.