Dave Heath spends a majority of his day thinking about one aspect of his company: the people. "If I could win one award," says the Bombas co-founder and CEO, "it would have to do with being the best place to work." In an effort to maintain a positive  company culture, Bombas, a New York City-based give-back athletic sock company, is focusing on ways to reinvent corporate motivational techniques.

Heath's company is far from alone. Several small businesses are ditching traditional monetary perks for self-motivating methods, which are proven to better enhance loyalty and job satisfaction. Consider implementing these creative examples in your office.

1. Encourage community involvement

Bombas gives each new employee 10 pairs of the brand's socks. But the company merch isn't for them. Within their first week, the employees are required to hand out each pair to a person in need, a small gesture that correlates to the company's "Bee Better" charity mission. Those interactions with the community "instill in our employees that what we're working for is bigger than a paycheck," Heath says. The 15-member team at Bombas also regularly takes field trips to local shelters, where employees get to spend time with the people and charitable organizations they're serving. "There's a moment of fulfillment when you feel like the work you do every day is meaningful," says Heath.

2. Offer a trip

Every quarter, employees at San Francisco cloud-based phone-system supplier Dialpad nominate a deserving peer for its See the World program. Each submission goes into an office-wide drawing, where the winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere he or she wants to go. Past winners have traveled to their ancestors' homeland or places they've dreamed about since childhood. "When they come back, they have to present their trip experience and how it correlates with their life," says Morgan Norman, Dialpad's vice president of marketing. "It's radically different than any company I've ever worked for, but it's incredible to see."

3. Provide career coaching

The most impactful employees, claims Zuora's Todd Pearson, are the ones who buy into the company's vision. At the Foster City, California-based subscription-service firm, motivating employees means always encouraging their individual career paths. Executives meet with employees individually upon request to learn about their objectives and advise them on how to get there. "I encourage people to think about their long-term career path, even if it isn't in my team," says Pearson, Zuora's senior vice president of customer success. "As much as I'm grinding my teeth over losing them, I try actively to help them qualify for that role."

4. Regularly give small measures of recognition

Before every meeting, Ambrosia Vertesi of Ann Arbor, Michigan, digital security provider Duo asks her team to acknowledge a fellow staff member for their work that previous week. The simple peer-to-peer recognition assures each meeting starts on a positive note. "One week we forgot to start with appreciations and several of my team members came to me disappointed," says Vertesi, who serves as vice president of people at Duo. "We haven't skipped it since."

Published on: Jul 12, 2016