A pay-raise/bonus is not the only way to reward your employees. Here are others.


Any businessman worth his salt would know that his employees form the backbone of his business. Keeping them motivated, engaged and satisfied is what will ensure his success. Not long ago, the Dale Carnegie Pan-India Employee Engagement Report (2014) found that although Indian employees were more engaged in their jobs than their global counterparts, almost 54 per cent of them were dissatisfied with their jobs. A more recent study by business research consultancy Aon Hewitt lists out the reasons for their dissatisfaction. Low salaries topped the list, followed closely by limited growth opportunities and uninspiring or difficult bosses.

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So how do you make sure that your employees remain happy, motivated and loyal to your business? According to the above statistics, the answer is obvious—pay them well. But what if you have just started out or do not have the budget to implement a pay hike? Fret not; there are a number of budget-friendly ways to do this. And, you will be surprised that sometimes employees may end up preferring such non-monetary compensations or privileges more than a pay hike.

Here’s what you can do to keep your employees happy without breaking the bank.

Offer flexible schedules: Remember that flexible hours do not merely mean the freedom to choose a shift. It should allow employees to adjust their work schedules in a way that helps them strike a better work-life balance. It has been proven many a time that flexible schedules keep employees happier, more satisfied and extremely productive.

Provide opportunities for training: This can be a great incentive for hard-working and well-performing employees. It might come at a cost, but it will definitely be cheaper than a price hike. Consider the expenditure on such training as an investment as they help mould your employees into better professionals by equipping them with the newest skills. By giving employees who meet their targets a chance to hone their skills with such programmes, you will also be setting an example for other members in your team to aspire for. It also increases the employee’s loyalty towards the company.

Offer personalised perks: One of the main concerns of an employee is whether the right people will notice his good efforts. Often, it happens that a team is rewarded when a task is successfully completed. While that is a good practice, you could take it a step ahead and personalise your rewards to suit individual employee preferences. Take a cue from US-based startup FreeTextbooks.com that asks all new hires to fill up a questionnaire that includes details about their favourite movies, food, music and restaurants. This information helps them customise rewards according to employee tastes. For instance, a employee who claimed to be a foodie was rewarded with a $100 gift card to dine at a restaurant run by a celebrity chef and another avid golfer was gifted a free round at one of the best courses in the locality. Such gestures make employees feel like they are valued for individually and that their efforts aren’t getting lost in the name of teamwork.

Make your acknowledgement known: Stop by to say a personal word of appreciation to an employee who has performed well or met their targets. As much as such one-to-one positive feedback is necessary, so is acknowledgment in front of their peers. In Hewlett-Packard, an award called The Golden Banana is one of the most prestigious honours given to inventive employees. The story behind the quirky name of the award is that one day an engineer barged into his superior’s room with an innovative solution to a problem that the team had been trying to solve for a while. The manager, who searched everywhere for a gift to give the engineer in appreciation of his brainwave, could only find a leftover banana at his desk. Still, he gave it to the engineer and congratulated him. No, you needn’t follow suit and give your employees bananas, but a gift in kind or even an encouraging gesture is enough to boost an employee’s morale. Send a company-wide email congratulating the employee’s good performance or have it printed in your monthly newsletter. Furthermore, mention this at the beginning of the next meeting. By publicly acknowledging and congratulating the winning work of an employee will only send a positive message to other employees about the possibility of their work getting noticed and appreciated.

Economist Sarah L. Fogleman of Kansas State University asks managers and entrepreneurs to indulge in ‘creative compensations’. “If you want employees to be innovative, reward them for every new idea. If you want them to work with the company for long, tie their wages to their tenure. If you want employees who show up on time, work hard and can be trusted with the most challenging tasks—recruit those people; reward those people; promote those people.” The future of your business, she reminds us, depends on your employees’ happiness.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)


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