I work at a small company and we have a full schedule of work ahead of us. There are some internal tooling projects that would massively help some departments in the company but they never quite get prioritised to the front of the queue.

I would like to offer my team the opportunity to work on them outside of work time for some sort of financial reward. but I'm struggling to find a model that won't cause resentment or promote conflict.

Options I've considered are:

  1. Bounty for the team that delivers the tool. This has issues around who gets to be on the team
  2. Option to come in on saturday to work on these projects and get overtime rate. This potentially makes people feel like the extra work is required unless the idea is carefully delivered.

Are there models I could use in order to encourage my team to put in extra work?

  • 2
    Why do the tools get down-prioritized if they will massively help? If there are things in the pipeline that are even more valuable for the business, wouldn't it be more benefit to pay people to work on those?
    – JacquesB
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:29
  • @JacquesB I would say it is problem of "I believe they will be valuable, but it is hard to explain that to management".
    – Euphoric
    Jul 15, 2016 at 15:13
  • paid overtime??
    – Ewan
    Jul 15, 2016 at 16:15
  • somewhat related: How can we motivate employees to complete IT certificates? "a huge red flag, don't do this..."
    – gnat
    Jul 15, 2016 at 17:10
  • The sign in the break room says that the legally mandated minimum incentive is 1.5 X normal hourly rate.
    – emory
    Jul 16, 2016 at 0:56

5 Answers 5


Trying to get more work out of your employees without paying them what they deserve is wrong. If you have more work than employee resources there are a couple options.

  1. Authorize overtime with appropriate overtime pay/Comp time.
  2. Hire more workers.

Anything else is simply trying to exploit your existing employees.


No, as long as people make enough on their main hours, money won't be incentive to work more hours. Also, I think there might be some legal problems in having people work more hours than is in their contract.

Only way I can think that people would work on a project outside their work hours is if they take full control and ownership of the project. Most probably as open-source, complete control over used technology, frameworks, libraries, etc... And you only provide requirements. It could be good way for a programmer to build a portfolio.


Return some of the time to them. After a major release goes out the door, management typically tells us to take the next month's Fridays as management directed time off.

  • Time off is always good. This doesnt cost your company extra money to pay them. Give them 1.5 hours unofficial vacation for every hour worked on the project.
    – Keltari
    Jul 15, 2016 at 17:33

One idea that has come up a couple of times on this SE is having a period in your development cycle devoted to self directed internal projects. What I've heard before is usually described is a week or two after a release where developers will have time to work on improving (or building new) tools for the organization. Long run it likely improves your velocity as this time lets your team relax and refresh a little bit and allows them to work more efficiently when they are working on regular projects.


The basic problem is you have projects in development now for customers that bring in revenue, but at the same time you have internal projects that don't generate revenue but helps make it easier for people to do their work which can't measure revenue directly.

With that said, why not just force your developers to do it? Pick a team to come in Saturday and tell them the day before. Yes they will get upset, maybe disgruntled, and whatnot but truth is you need these done so get it done. If it only happens sometimes, chances are most people will forget. Remember you're in charge, and making demands is appropriate in your position.

As said before, people won't work just because there is a little extra money. Putting bounties up or doing some sort of day off is going to work sometimes but most of the time it won't. You'll need to force this on if you want it to work.

  • For added bonus put up a bounty for the tools but if no one answers, do the weekend get together with no bounty offered. Soon the message will get across and you'll see folks taking up the bounty before needing to come in Saturdays.
    – Dan
    Jul 15, 2016 at 19:04
  • Dan: "Um, yeah, I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday... that would be... great..." Jul 15, 2016 at 22:43
  • "Pick a team to come in Saturday and tell them the day before." Can't think of many better ways to totally piss off your employees. Very bad idea.
    – sleske
    Jul 15, 2016 at 23:06

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