Running Your Business

Employee Recognition: How to Foster Growth Without a Raise

Posted by December 12, 2019

Employee recognition is a vital part of any thriving business. In fact, it’s so important that some employees have said that they would prefer a promotion over a pay raise if they had to choose. This means that even if you don’t have the budget to raise your employees’ salaries, you can still find meaningful ways to raise their morale and help them grow within your organization. Here’s how.

Money Isn’t Always the Answer

Even if you don’t have an extensive budget to give out raises and bonuses, you can still help your employees move up within your organization and show them that their accomplishments are recognized. In fact, when it comes to feeling appreciated and motivated, money isn’t always the number one factor. According to an October 2016 survey, Korn Ferry found that 63 percent of respondents would prefer getting a promotion without a salary increase to having a salary increase without a promotion. This means that employees value recognition more than extra money. The key to achieving employee satisfaction is figuring out what types of recognition will be the most meaningful to the people who work for you. If it helps, you can conduct your own anonymous survey, asking your employees what types of non-monetary benefits mean the most to them.

Increase Flexibility and Autonomy at Work

Helping employees know that they are “moving up the ladder” involves more than just a new job title. If you can’t give a raise, consider offering increased autonomy and flexibility instead. Now that you trust the employee more, she’s ready for more responsibility. Perhaps you tend to micromanage newer recruits. Now that your employee has proven herself, take a step back and give her freedom to make decisions without requiring your approval.

More autonomy can also mean a more flexible schedule, because you no longer need to keep a close eye on your employee to know she’s doing her job well. Perhaps as part of a promotion, your employee can now work from home a couple days a week. Or maybe she can come in a little earlier or later every day to avoid rush hour.

Give Extra Benefits

Why not consider giving extra benefits as part of a promotion? For example, perhaps you can give shares in the company in lieu of a raise. Or maybe you can offer additional health care benefits, a free gym membership or increase a 401(k) match. Consider seminars or conferences to teach new skills important for a promotion. Remember, many benefits qualify as business expenses and may be deductible. Consult your tax adviser about which options would be best for your company.

Let Them Delegate and Oversee New Projects

Often promotions also mean overseeing departments or staff. One way to show that you recognize an employee’s accomplishments is by giving increased responsibilities. Give her a new project that will challenge her. Or change the hierarchy of a department and have some employees report to her now. Some people will thrive with increased leadership responsibilities.

Create a Clear Path for Getting That Raise

Sometimes you’re not ready to offer a raise quite yet, but plan to do so in the near future. If that’s the case, make this absolutely clear to your employee. Set clear goals, such as: “In six months, we plan to offer you a raise of 15 percent, based on your achieving these specific goals.” By setting tangible goals and a specific timeline, your employee will know that you’re not just delaying a raise permanently.

Remember, the key to making your employees feel valuable, even if you can’t offer a raise, is to give benefits and promotions that are clearly tied to accomplishments. List specific things the employee did that impressed you. Whether you offer increased flexibility, a team to supervise or a new job title, make sure your employees know exactly why they are getting the rewards. The key is making sure your employees walk away feeling valued and seen, knowing that their hard work has not gone unnoticed.

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