Alternate Ideas to Raises

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Your employees have worked hard for you all year.  You would like to reward them, but with the economy down, you can’t really afford raises.  You don’t want to lose valuable employees, so what else can you do to keep them happy so they’ll stay?  Here are a few ideas that might help you make up for that raise.


Giving extra time off:  Everyone likes extra time off with pay.  Depending on how long the employee has been there, give extra paid days off.  I’m not talking about their paid vacations but an extra day, days or even a week.  Your employee will feel rested, relaxed and appreciated.


Passing out gift cards:  Giving your employee a gift card to a top of the line restaurant is another idea.  They can take their spouse or significant other out for an evening at your expense.  Your employee will relax and enjoy a great meal.


Permitting telecommuting:  An occasional work-at-home day can be a great option.  The employee doesn’t have to deal with traffic or even be at work at 8:00am.  It gives them a nice break in the work week.


More flexible hours:  If possible, have a flexible schedule.  Some people would rather work a four day ten hour workweek.  Other people would rather come in later and stay later.  By staggering schedules, it will actually get more work accomplished.


Be a little more casual:  Allow a dress down day once a week.  Celebrate an employee’s birthday with cake, a card and maybe one of those funny balloons.  Provide a pizza day or a catered lunch once a month.  Give them something different to look forward to.


Upgrade the office equipment:  Instead of having your employees wrestle with the spitting printer, upgrade the equipment.  Working equipment can lessen frustration and increase productivity.


Award your employee a new title:  Sometimes just something as simple as a new title will satisfy an employee.  Order new business cards with the new title on and give them to the employee when you pass their new title on to them.


Always show your appreciation:  Make sure your employees know how valuable they are to you. Tell them that you appreciate their hard work and dedication.  It’s easy to forget the little things when you’re busy and working on various projects.  Sometimes just a simple thanks and telling them they did a good job will work wonders in the goodwill category.


Not being able to give raises can have a negative impact on employees.  However, if you make the effort to show that they are appreciated, they will remain dedicated and valuable employees.



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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks George. You make a great point. It's important for managers to spread the praise around to their teams, but I think that they should also be very aware of who they praise as well. It's so easy for a mid-level manager to get busy and take sloppy shortcuts like giving the pats on the back to their tried and true leaders instead of using the positive feedback as an opportunity to praise and encourage employees who work quietly in the shadows. The proven leaders are already enthusiastic and driven, but the ones who aren't typically noticed are the ones most hungry for it and who need it most.
  • George Jacob
    George Jacob
    It's very important to show recognition of staff, but I think it's worth mentioning that it's important for higher-ups to spread that recognition around. I used to work in a place that focused the recognition on a small number of employees, which created a lot of resentment and awkward situations in the office. There's a fine line between appreciation and perceived favoritism.

    But great employers know the difference, and they know how to make employees feel recognized. I think it's simply a matter of making sure that good work is praised, no matter who did it.
  • Linda Ruzicka
    Linda Ruzicka
    Great idea too!  Thank you for your input!
  • Laurie S
    Laurie S
    All great ideas, especially for smaller companies.  Another is a special parking spot for recogniton. For birthdays or any recognition gift, I think it is a great idea to make it personal by finding out about an employee's special interests. This can even be done at the time of hire, in an introductory exercise.  When the time comes, rather than an assumed birthday cake, you might find they would prefer a collection of specialty popcorn or chocolates to share. It may turn out to be more appreciated and cost less because of the special attention.  I gave out dance lessons one time and it was met with happy tears.
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