3 Big Benefits of Using Unpredictable Rewards and 30 Ways to Motivate Employees

Nate Anglin
6 min readJan 25, 2024

In small businesses, motivating your team is like herding cats.

It’s tricky but not impossible. The usual rewards — ‘Employee of the Month’ and bonus checks — are predictable, and predictability over time is the silent killer of motivation.

As a hard-charging small business CEO, I’ve got the subtlety of a bulldozer at a tea party when it comes to celebrating successes. Early in my career, I was revved up, ready to plow through to the next goal. My coaches and mentors keep telling me to stop and smell the roses.

But honestly, I wouldn’t know a rose from a dandelion.

This brings me to the lesson I’ve learned — in my own steamroller-esque way.

Celebrating victories isn’t just about throwing confetti and high-fiving your reflection. It’s about understanding that while I might be as motivated by celebrations as a cat is by a swimming lesson, others might actually find joy in it.

And here’s the kicker — you can’t just stick to the script with rewards.

Handing out predictable pats on the back is like serving the same sandwich at every meeting — bland and forgettable. You’ve got to mix it up with some unpredictability and sprinkle in a bit of surprise. Maybe one day…



Nate Anglin

Small Biz Investor, CEO, & helping others improve their performance, profit, & potential w/out sacrificing what’s most important. www.nateanglin.com/newsletter