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Keeping Employees Happy Without a Raise

February 15, 2019 / by Tommy Twardowski

Why do most people work? Because they need money. Obviously, one way to keep your employees happy is to give them more money. However, sometimes that’s not feasible. And, sometimes the most highly compensated employees are not happy and leave to take a lower-paying job that offers a better quality of life. Giving employees a raise is definitely no guarantee that employees will be happy. It’s also not the only thing you can do to increase morale in the workplace. Here are several creative ways to keep employees happy without giving them a raise.

More Carrot Less Stick

Everyone appreciates earning or winning something! Offering employees opportunities to earn rewards or recognition contributes to a company culture of teamwork and keeps employees happy and motivated as they work toward a goal that’s within reach. Incentives can be anything (gift cards, movie or sporting event tickets, a VIP parking space, a trophy or plaque, etc.)

How effective are employee incentives? One recruiting firm conducted an experiment and concluded that 85% of employees are more motivated to do be productive at work when an incentive is offered, 73% reported “good” or “very good” workplace morale during an incentive period, and employee reward programs increased company overall profits. Happy employees lead to happy employers!

Team Building Activities

In lieu of pay raises, you can keep employees happy by scheduling periodic (quarterly perhaps) activities for your employees to have fun together outside the office. For instance, you could take the team bowling or to watch a local sporting event. You could also offer to sponsor an employee softball or kickball team in a local league. Employees who get to know their coworkers outside the office tend to be happier employees!

Create an Inviting Office Environment

Employees who are comfortable at work are happier at work. If there are things that are distracting in the office, address them. For instance, if odors from the microwave in your break room permeate the entire office, consider updating your ventilation system or walling off the breakroom if it is an open concept space.

If your office furniture is outdated, beat up, or uncomfortable, consider replacing it. Even if your budget is small, perhaps you could invest in new office chairs or ergonomic accessories for employees. Any improvements to your employee break rooms and common areas will also enhance the ambiance at work. Consider forming an employee task force to survey your team, request suggestions, and head up an office improvement initiative.

Be Flexible

In some cases, offering employees the ability to have flexible schedules (for instance, allowing them to tailor their start and end times to avoid rush hour traffic) may do more to make employees happy than giving them a raise. Even more enticing is allowing them to work from home occasionally if their job is conducive to telecommuting. If you’re trying to create a company culture that values quality of life and well-roundedness, the more flexible you can be about employees work hours and locations, the better.

Stock the Break Room – Generously

Often, the littlest things in life can bring the most enjoyment. Why not head to your local warehouse store each month and stock up on an assortment of snacks and beverages for the break room? And, you will definitely have happy employees if you provide free (good-quality) coffee at work!

Plan A Small Surprise Each Month

Everyone loves an unexpected pleasant surprise. Depending on how many employees you have, you could arrange for a food truck to provide lunch to your team or take your team to lunch one month. Another month you could surprise your team by announcing “Everyone has the day off next Friday!” You could bring in a masseuse to provide chair massages to employees throughout the day. If you have a dress code, you could announce “Jeans and T-shirts Tuesday!”

You can don’t have to spend lots of money to motivate and make your employees happy. A raise is one way to show appreciation, but so are these alternatives!

Looking for ways to create a company culture that your employees will love?

Topics: Office Etiquette, Managers

About The Author

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy began his career in the office furniture installation business in 1978 and started his full-time career in 1981 with Houston Installation Services. Starting as a furniture installer, he developed a passion for the process of installation and learned to install all major manufacturers’ lines.