How to Keep Employees Happy Without a Raise

It may seem like the Shangri-La of the business world: having hard-working employees who are happy without a raise. Well Mr. Moneybags, it’s possible.

Generally, to keep your team motivated, you need to offer them incentives, and one of the most appreciated and oft demanded incentive is a pay raise. The thing is, you can be a Stingy Steve and still have happy, content employees without dishing out the big bucks and it’s actually surprisingly cheap! I mean, easy. Here are some great ways to keep your employees happy without paying them a red cent.

1. Work-Life Balance

Man in hammock using laptop

I know that this is already an overused and frequently groan-eliciting term, but keeping a healthy (and fair) work-life balance is crucial to keep employees engaged and happy – especially if there’s a level of discontent due to the lack of pay rises. Sure, some of the items that facilitate a work-life balance might cost you a little bit of money like an in situ daycare center, for example (which minimizes commutes and also allows employees to spend their breaks with their children), but there are other ways that might not cost you anything at all like flexible work hours and allowing special permission leaves for family events and obligations.

2. Non-Tangible Incentives

Sure, money makes the world go round, but when the budget doesn’t allow for thousands of dollars’ worth of raises to be doled out, you have to find something else that your employees will like and appreciate. Remember: you have to pay a little to get away from paying a lot. You could offer an Employee of the Month prize, making the month’s most hard-working employee feel appreciated and incentivizing the other employees strive to achieve that distinction, especially if it’s something enticing enough. You can offer a productivity tool as an incentive which doesn’t have to be all that boring: it can be something like a new laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can offer your employees an experience like an extremely expensive bottle of wine, dinner for two at a three-star Michelin restaurant, or a shopping spree. I know all those options sound like they cost a lot of money, but look at the bigger picture: it’s much cheaper than giving all your employees a raise.

3. Benefits

Dentist with patient

Benefits have become an established part of the job market. Some of the best employers offer an extremely rich benefits package to attract the best talent, but what do you do when you have great talent and want them to keep working for you? Well, you give them benefits! The good thing about benefit packages is that the more people you sign up for them, the cheaper they will be for you. Benefits that can help preserve your employees’ incomes, especially when you can’t give them a raise, will be extremely appreciated. Dental care, optical coverage, and even gym memberships are all things that will help your employees stay healthy, happy, and feeling appreciated. This also shows that you, as an employer, truly care about your employees’ wellbeing (which isn’t true; we’ve already established the fact that you’re doing this to weasel out of giving everyone a raise).

4. Give Them a Voice

Woman with megaphone

What’s better than getting paid more? Well, not much, but having a voice can help employees feel more invested in the company and part of its successes. Inversely, not having a voice can be frustrating, demeaning, and a guaranteed path to No-F*cks-Given-Ville. Tell your employees what is going on in the company, ask them for their feedback regarding new policies or shifts in vision/voice…; basically, don’t be an oligarch that cracks a whip and says “So let it be written, so let it be done” (also, why do Italians speak in posh and pompous English accents?) Treating them as contributing members to the achievement of collective goals will also tickle their creative and problem-solving bones, giving them something else to think about than just the normal daily grind tasks they deal with.

5. Allow Initiatives

Another great benefit that you can offer that won’t cost you anything at all, but might actually make you some money, is allowing your employees to take initiative and maybe even bring their own ideas to the table. Google is probably the most famous proponents of this concept, allowing employees to use 20% of their time to work on their own projects that could benefit the company at large. And it has actually paid off for Google since wildly successful tools such as AdSense, Gmail, and Google Talk were a result of this concept. Granted, it also resulted in Google Glass but let’s just ignore that technological and aesthetic miscarriage.

6. Communication

Coworkers chatting

Keep avenues of communication wide open to your employees, no matter how high up you are or how high and mighty you feel. This ties in slightly to giving your employees a say in the company affairs, with more of a human element to it. Basically, the feeling of having access to the highest tiers of the company empowers people, makes them feel valuable, and it gives them someone to talk to if they feel things are going awry, someone who has the power to change things if necessary. And don’t worry, you wouldn’t be inundated with emails, phone calls, and sing-a-grams – although people will have the option to talk to middle and senior management, few will actually use that option, but as a ditch effort.

Can you think of any other ways you can keep employees happy without actually giving them a raise? Let us know in the comments section below!




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