How to Keep Employees Happy Without a Raise

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 21, 2021

As much as you want to reward your hardworking team with a raise, you may not always be able to do so for a variety of reasons. For many employers, budgets do not allow them to grant every employee a raise. While you may not be able to grant raises as a way to keep employees satisfied, there are still ways you can keep employees happy without a raise. As an employer, you should always strive to help your employees happy.

A meta-analysis of 225 studies on happiness in the workplace found that happiness increases productivity by 31% on average, increases sales by 37%, and increases creativity threefold.

Keep reading for tips on how to keep employees happy without a pay raise.

Photo: Pexels

Enable a healthy work-life balance

The pandemic has shifted the perspective for many in the workforce when it comes to their careers and how it fits into their life. As employees took their jobs home as many offices shut down their physical locations, many found themselves facing the struggle to maintain a healthy and effective work-life balance.

Offer your employees options to improve their work-life balance. For many employees, it may be hard to go to their employer and ask for time off or inquire about changing up their schedule, take that first step for them and put the offer on the table yourself.

For example, you can offer your employees the option of flex-time, where they have the ability to have better control of their personal work schedule. With flex-time, they can work longer days for an extra day for the weekend, or shift their hours earlier or later onto the day so they can focus on priorities outside of their job, such as taking care of their children.

If your work allows it, offer employees the chance to work remotely, or take on a hybrid approach where they spend half the time in the office and the other time working at home. An employee that was second-guessing their employment because they were thinking their compensation wasn’t enough to justify a stressful commute may be more willing to stay on if they no longer have to suffer through a commute every day.

A healthy work-life balance may not sound as appealing as a pay raise, but it can still do wonders for keeping employees healthy and motivated in their personal and professional lives.

Provide opportunities for career development

For employees, not getting a raise or promotion can leave them feeling “stuck” and frustrated in their current position. To help prevent that, provide your employees with growth and development opportunities. With these opportunities, they have the chance to expand their skillset and knowledge.

These opportunities can include free courses and training programs, or company-specific training. You can tie these opportunities for future promotions so employees can actively work toward an achievable goal.

Focus on Employee Recognition/Rewards

There’s nothing more defeating than feeling like your hard work and efforts are left unrecognized and appreciated. For many employees, an example of recognition for their hard work could be a pay raise. However, you may not be able to offer them a raise as much as you think they deserve it. If you cannot offer them a raise, do not let it stop you from giving your employees some well-deserved recognition.

While you can’t offer a pay raise, you can still show support through small tokens of appreciation. Celebrate your team’s efforts with a catered lunch or breakfast, which can also offer the chance for some team bonding and relaxation in the office as you talk about something unrelated to work over a shared meal. Establish a recognition program within the workplace where management or team members can award an employee of the month or week to celebrate an individual’s efforts.

Rewards in any capacity, not just raises, can help keep people motivated as well as valued. A motivated and satisfied team can boost team morale and make the workplace a more enjoyable one for everyone.

Be honest and upfront about how the company handles raises

Whether your employees are actively pursuing a raise or not, it’s definitely something all employees consider. Help yourself and your employees by being transparent about how raises are dealt with.

If you are being transparent, you can help eliminate any misunderstanding and frustration revolving around raises.

A higher wage rate may be the most obvious choice to keep your employees motivated and happy, but it may not be a choice you are able to make. Don’t let your top talent go over frustrations related to raises. Get creative and remember to show your employees appreciation for their contributions whenever you get the opportunity.

After all, raises are not the perfect solution to employee satisfaction. A well-rewarded and appreciated employee is more likely to feel committed to the company they work for.

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