Improving Employee Satisfaction Without Giving Raises

What they say is true: Money can’t buy happiness. Which is a positive thing for many businesses that are looking to improve employee satisfaction without spending thousands of dollars on raises or other financial incentives each year. While raises and bonuses can help boost morale, workers tend to burn through extra money quickly, and the initial gratification it provides never lasts long. The good news is that employees don’t actually need financial incentives to be happy if management can provide other, less tangible benefits. Here are a few ways to motivate your employees and improve satisfaction without offering a single raise.
Related: The Top 9 Things Employees Really Care About

Automate Painful Parts of Their Job

Top-performing employees are vital to the success of your business. Without a way to retain those employees, you risk reduced efficiency, overspending on training, and limiting the overall growth.
Unfortunately, even the best employees get bogged down in menial and repetitive tasks that can result in reduced engagement and a challenging work life. One way around this is to offer employees the chance to automate those repetitive tasks. Marketing automation software, for example, can minimize tedious work like email and social media marketing, website logins, filling online forms, accounting and invoicing, reporting, computer backups, computer maintenance, media collection, and even keeping in touch with customers and clients. If your employees can save time on dull tasks in order to focus on high performing projects, they will be far less likely to ditch your company for somewhere more mentally stimulating. engagement_infographic Source: Laura Hansen

Offer More Office Perks

Depending on the size of your company, you may or may not be able to offer employees a competitive full benefits package. You may not be able to afford raises for all your employees even if you could offer them. But a bonus check isn’t the only perk of working in an office. You might be surprised how far a few small and inexpensive benefits will go. Providing space where employees can work in private or a work-from-home day once a month can go a long way. Other benefits might include simple things like nicer office chairs, an in-office sharing library, or even just replacing headache-inducing fluorescent bulbs. If you do have some discretionary funds, you could hire a massage therapist to give chair massages for your employees. You could also spring for an office lunch once or twice a month, or even bring bagels or donuts in on Fridays. The little things that make up an office can make the difference for many employees. After all, they do spend a good portion of their time there.

Make Them Feel Valued

A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that “feeling a sense of purpose at work” is the single biggest driver of employee satisfaction. Employees who feel a sense of purpose are:
  • 3 times more likely to stay in their jobs
  • 1.7 times higher to feel job satisfaction
  • 1.4 times more engaged at work
There are plenty of ways to acknowledge hard work and effort. Encourage supervisors to recognize employees who have received positive feedback from customers or those that put in effort time and effort on a project. Verbal feedback during meetings can help improve an overall sense of accomplishment. Value can also be tangible. Things like personalizing a coffee mug in the break room or a preferred parking space can also help employees feel a sense of belonging. Thank you notes or some form of formal recognition program can also increase satisfaction and retention.

Give More Authority or Responsibility

Just because you can’t afford to give your workers a huge bonus doesn’t mean you can’t promote them in some way. Something like a better job title or less supervision during projects can show that you trust someone and that you value the ideas they bring to your company. Promotions could also come with other non-monetary perks mentioned before, such as a preferred parking spot, a private workspace, or simply the ability to come and go at different times of the day. You can also give them more of a say in company policies or allow them to take the lead on a project, furthering their sense of purpose and value to the team. screen-shot-2015-04-22-at-12-26-49-pm Source: SnackNation

Encourage Personal Development

A sense of stagnation can cause employees to leave for greener pastures. If an employee feels like their potential is being wasted or that their ideas aren’t being valued, there’s a greater chance of turnover, even if your company has the best office perks. That’s why encouraging potential is a great way to improve happiness and retention. Training opportunities both in-office and out of office can help boost confidence while improving necessary skills. However, many employers don’t incentivize workers in this way because they feel that personal development is risky – what if you spend money developing their skills and they leave for another company? But research shows that providing developmental support like mentoring programs or online courses can actually help employees feel invested in your company, as well as in their own skills. When it comes to retention, it’s important for businesses to have regular career planning discussions with their employees. Make sure employees are aware of the different types of career paths or job opportunities at your company, and don’t forget to promote employees that have gone through additional training.

Promote Work Life Balance

David Ballard, assistant director for organizational excellence at the American Psychological Association, once said, “To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life.” Work life balance is an essential part of employee satisfaction. If workers feel stressed and overworked, their performance is more likely to suffer. According to a medical study from 2009, long working hours impede cognitive function. There’s evidence that shows switching to a shorter workday – or even a 30 hour work week – can raise job efficiency and improve morale. But even if you can’t cut hours in your regular workweek, there are other ways to promote a good work life balance for your employees. At the end of a big project (when burnout is near), give someone a day off. Provide opportunities to work from home or to use technology in place of in-person meetings to conduct business. Not only will this improve your overall productivity, but your employees will also be much more satisfied with their work life, and may even be eager and ready to start work on Monday morning.
Don’t miss this list of 9 things your employees want more than a raise

Final Thoughts

One important thing to remember when it comes to improving job satisfaction and retention is to keep track of it as much as possible. Don’t simply implement new ideas and hope that employees are satisfied. Offer anonymous online surveys that ask about benefits, recognition, supervision feedback, and other useful information. Insights from your employees can go a long way to knowing just which benefits will motivate your workers the most. You don’t need to write large checks to keep workers happy, but remember that you can always put monetary support towards improving the experience of your office space, whether it’s in a fresh coat of paint or some other practical benefit that will entice them to stay.