7 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Without Raising Salaries

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Money doesn’t buy happiness, and raises and bonuses are not key to retaining your top talent either.

If you manage a business, your biggest asset is not your products or superior services; it’s your employees.

Your talented staff builds new growth opportunities, minimizes risk, promotes your company and handles the day-to-day work, leaving you to focus on bigger picture items.

Keeping your employees engaged and morale high is essential to your company’s success.

To retain good employees, you need to reward and recognize them regularly. It reinforces that they are valued, sets an example for the rest of your team and makes them feel appreciated.

If you’re on a limited budget, this may mean that hefty bonuses and above-average raises are out of the question. If you manage a company but are on a limited budget, maintaining top talent can be tricky.

However, it’s a costly mistake to think that a raise or bonus is the only way, or even the best way, to retain your best performers; more money doesn’t always translate to happy employees. Cash is always a major factor in determining an employee’s satisfaction, but money will not keep them around if they’re unhappy with the company.

Money is fleeting. Bonuses and raises get spent quickly, and the day-to-day grind keeps on as usual. Even highly-paid individuals can feel burnt out, unappreciated and undervalued. To reward top employees and improve morale, you need to address the comprehensive needs of your employees to make sure they feel valued.

Related Article:6 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

1. Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are highly valued; Flexjobs.com, a job-search site that lists only positions that offer flex-time, compressed work weeks or telecommute options, has thousands of paid members looking for work. It is one of the biggest perks talented candidates look for in prospective companies. If you do not offer flexible work options, you may miss out on recruiting top talent and even face losing your skilled employees looking for better work-life balance.

Just wait till you see how many companies are offering work from home options. Consider offering varying schedules with core hours. Early birds can come in early and leave in the mid-afternoon and your night owls can roll in late in the morning and work into the evenings.

You will likely see higher productivity when people can work at their best times, and having flexible schedules allows them to handle outside appointments more easily. Employees feel a lot more appreciated when they can go to the dentist in the morning without having to take vacation time.

2. Offer Extra Perks

You don’t need to install sleep pods or have a gourmet cafeteria like Google, but extra perks besides coffee in the breakroom can go a long way. Partner with a local gym and offer free or subsidized gym memberships, offer student loan reimbursement for higher education or match charitable contributions up to a certain percentage. Meeting employees’ needs and passions outside of work as well as in the office can make them feel like they work for an employer who cares.

3. Improve Benefits Packages

Top talent expects good benefits, so having a dental and vision plan is no longer enough. Upgrading your benefits packages to cover more illnesses, medications and treatments not only make employees happier, but it also makes them healthier and more productive.

Some other benefits that are in high demand are infertility and adoption assistance; many companies do not offer any contributions to these very expensive processes, so even modest aid is deeply appreciated.

Related Article:A Good Investment: How Keeping Employees Happy Benefits a Business

4. Avoid the Inevitable

The first beautiful day of spring, the last day before a long holiday and Black Friday are all days you know very little work will get done. People are distracted and want to be home relaxing or spending time with their families. Instead of insisting people are in their chairs from nine to five, send out a surprise email declaring it a half day. You won’t miss out on productivity, but you will get a huge boost in morale.

5. Institute Summer Schedules

Similarly, Fridays in the summer are always difficult. With family engagements and weekend plans, people want to get the weekend started. By offering summer schedules, where employees work slightly longer hours Monday through Thursday and take a half-day on Friday, you can give employees more work-life balance.

6. Recognize Individuals

A kind word can go a long way. Many employees feel unappreciated and unnoticed, so by taking the time to acknowledge someone’s individual contributions and hard work, you make them feel significant. If you notice an employee going above and beyond, like working extended hours or taking on extra projects to cover for someone else, even just taking them aside to thank them personally can leave a lasting impression.

7. Give a Sense of Purpose

Working every day, it’s easy for employees to fall into their own bubbles and focus on their work and the work of their teams. They often forget how their work resonates outside the office walls, the outcomes of the business and how customers are affected. This emotional distance can make morale go down, as they feel disengaged. Workers need a sense of purpose to feel like their work is making a difference.

At regular staff meetings, highlight the big picture. If you receive a grateful customer email, or there’s an article about your company’s innovation, share it with your employees with a personal note on how each department contributed. It will help connect the dots to how every employee contributes to the company’s success.

Related Article:Researchers Identify the 14 Key Areas of Employee Disengagement

The old cliché is true: Money doesn’t buy happiness, and raises and bonuses are not key to retaining your top talent either. When pay increases just aren’t feasible, using some of these alternatives can increase productivity, raise employee engagement and improve overall morale.

The more appreciated employees feel and the more they think you recognize them as people with outside lives, the more committed they will be to you and your organization.

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