How to Keep Your Employees Happy Without Giving Them a Raise


Money isn’t everything; in fact research shows that beyond a certain point (roughly $70,000 a year) money doesn’t motivate people very much at all. So how do you make sure that your employees are happy, engaged and ready to stay with your company without reaching for the check book?

It’s not as complicated as you might think. In general most people are motivated by being treated in similar ways and you can keep your employees happy without giving them a raise; here’s how:

Be Clear and Transparent

Nobody wants to work in an environment where decision making is carried out behind closed doors and then the results of those decisions sent out as unquestionable instructions. If you want people to want to work with you; you need to share your thinking and let them challenge that thinking as they see fit. The person closest to the impact of a decision is the person who will be carrying out the task it relates to – they should be able to understand why you’ve decided something that changes their world.

Get People’s Input

How can you tell what will make your employees happy and productive if you don’t ask them? Larger companies may have to rely on employee surveys to get this information but in small businesses – the conversations can be more direct. You will be surprised at how often it’s simple, small and inexpensive things that can make huge differences to people’s morale.

Care For Them as People


If your employees are nothing but a number sat at a desk and expected to deliver like performing seals; how much do you think they’re really going to care about the business and its objectives? Make sure that you see the workforce as more than numbers on a balance sheet. Take an interest in their lives, go for a beer or a coffee with people every now and again, see them as a whole person and not just as a corporate function.

Acknowledge The Need For a Work-Life Balance

If someone gives 150% to work; the chances are pretty good that sooner or later – they’ll come to resent that. Healthy, happy people need time to relax, to socialize, to go on vacation, to be with their families, etc. If you can acknowledge that and then actively create a workplace where people can keep work and life in balance; they’ll thank you for it in the long-term.

Share The Direction and Objectives of the Business

It’s always amazing to see how many businesses expect engagement whilst treating their employees as potential spies. Business plans end up hidden in desk draws, objectives are kept between managers and leaders only, and then the people running the show are amazed when their plans don’t come to fruition. If you want people to work with you; they need to know what they’re expected to do and that means sharing the big picture data that’s relevant to them as well as giving them things to do.

Stop The Endless Meetings


Junior employees are often jealous of the number of meetings that mid-level and management employees spend their time in. However, the people who are constantly in meetings – resent them. They are often sessions of mutual backslapping and poisonous office politics rather than constructive and valuable. People should only end up in meetings as a last resort – that leaves them free to be productive with their work time.

Cut The Expectation on Email Responses

Smartphones may be the worst thing to happen to employees in the last 10 years. Where once when they left the office, they left work behind; today – managers seem to expect them to be on constant call via e-mail, IM, social networks, etc. This comes back to work-life balance but expectations of availability out of office need to be very carefully managed if you don’t want the workforce to start hating your managers.

Deliver Better Benefits

Benefits packages are all too often “one size fits all”. Young, fit, active, single employees find themselves with access to daycare that they’ll never need. Older more sedentary employees wonder why they’ve got gym membership that they won’t use in their package. Benefits can be tailored to deliver a much more personal approach and provide each employee with something that they want or need. If you don’t know where to begin with this – a good place to start is talking to your employees asking them what they’d like to see materialize in their lives in addition to their salaries.

Learn to Reward and Recognize Performance

Portrait Of Business Team In Office Celebrating

It’s an ugly but common scene in businesses; high-performers, instead of being celebrated, are denigrated for being “lucky” or “suck ups”. This is a terrible thing to do if you want to keep your best people. Instead you should be celebrating success. That means rewarding people when they do well (a cinema ticket, an extra hour’s break, these things don’t have to be expensive) and communicating the reason for the reward to the rest of the company. Make sure that success is shown to be something worth achieving.

Have Clear Career Development Structures

There’s nothing more frustrating for large sections of the workforce when their career needs are neglected in favor of “graduate” or “talent” programs. Almost everybody wants career progression but many people have no idea where to start with this. Communicating what’s expected from someone in order for them to be considered for a promotion or sideways move is very important; it doesn’t mean everyone gets promoted but it does mean everyone knows what to aim for in order to get there.

Take an Interest in Their Health

Healthy people are going to be in work more and able to achieve more while they are there. Enabling people to take lunches and offering them support to eat balanced diets can be a great way to boost health levels as can encouraging people to use the company gym rather than walk past it every day. The more you demonstrate that you care about people’s health, the more they’re likely to care about it themselves.


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