7 ways to make an employee happy without giving them a raise

7 ways to make an employee happy without giving them a raise

A high salary, large bonuses and frequent raises isn’t the silver bullet to employee happiness. Just look at the number of stories where people quit their lofty high-paying jobs for ones that might offer them more freedom, adventure or purpose.

For example, Gravity Payments recently raised the minimum salary of their employees to $70,000 a year to be implemented over the next three years. Although the majority of employees were ecstatic upon hearing the announcement, not all employees were elated.

This is reflected by two of their staff quitting shortly after the policy kicked into play which just goes to show that employee happiness reaches far beyond monetary gains. Here are seven other ways to make employees happy.

Give room for your employees to develop

Few employees want to do one specific task over and over again as things will get boring very quickly. Don’t be afraid to grant your employees new responsibilities from time to time as it will allow them to grow and become more confident in their ability to learn new things. Furthermore, this will broaden their skill-set, making them more valuable to your firm whilst bolstering up their CV.


While this might present a productivity risk or temporarily place your employees out of their comfort zones, it eliminates the risk of them growing bored of their role and finding something new somewhere else. The best way to do this is to play to your employee’s personal strengths and interests and match the type of tasks that they might be interested in doing. That way, you are demonstrating an interest in their personal growth and offering a place for them to grow within the firm.

Another tactic is to let various members of the team take ownership of certain tasks. This way, they would each develop micro leadership skills. If each member of the team familiarises themselves with the roles of the other team members, they will be able to bring ideas for improvement and input into the process on a holistic level.

If the roles are not too specialised, you may even consider a rotation of roles for a certain time period supplemented with team trainings to widen the team’s skillsets. Also, encouraging your employees to engage in external training or short courses might be a good idea if you don’t have formal internal training.


Communicate the bigger picture

Business leaders hold a monopoly over their employees when it comes to the bigger picture. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Neglecting to keep employees abreast of what is going on might not have much of an impact on their day to day tasks. However, sharing this information makes everyone feel that they are an important part of the organization.

It is especially important to break particularly big news, whether it be good or bad, to your employees first before making major announcements in the media. Not doing this would make them feel like they are not a valued part of the firm. When the news is good, granting your employees the chance to celebrate it would renew their sense of pride in working for your firm. This would also give them a chance to bond which is conducive to a good working atmosphere.

When the news is bad, you should address your employees in a straightforward and respectable manner. As adults, they will usually be able to handle the bad news. However, when you choose to keep your employees in the dark, you risk losing the trust of your employees, and the corporate culture stops being an open and honest one. Furthermore, rumours may start to fly around, as in the absence of real information, people may tend to hypothesize and make things up. This could be detrimental as rumours are typically worse than the real situation.


Make sure they are managed well

A company might have a great culture, vision and respected leadership team with roles offering room for variety and development. However, the everyday interactions and events which take place in each team or work group is also a major source of an employee’s happiness within the workplace. It is therefore essential for all team leaders to have good management skills enabling them to make the employee’s day-to-day experience a pleasant one.

Progress and satisfaction levels of each employee should be monitored on a regular basis, not just when something has gone terribly wrong, or during annual review period. Therefore, it is recommended for managers to have informal weekly or monthly check-ins to get the work related lowdown on what’s really happening to each member of the team. Having a good manager who can dissipate sources of dissatisfaction can really make a positive impact on an employee’s work life.

Make sure they know that they are being compensated fairly

Even if a raise is not in order, you can increase the happiness levels of your employees by letting them know that they are being compensated and renumerated fairly. Explaining the raise and bonus process, as well as what is expected of them to attain it, would keep the lines of communication open and keep employees’ expectations in line with reality.


They would also appreciate the transparency. When your employees don’t expect a raise and there isn’t one, they won’t be unhappy. However, when they expect a raise and there isn’t one, then they will be disappointed. You may also sweeten the deal for them by giving non-financial related benefits such as flexi time and work from home days.

Treat them like people, not just a resource

Employees are different to other types of resources in that they can never be neatly arranged or treated in the same way. Whilst it is important to make sure your employees do their job correctly, it is also crucial to build a relationship with them and make them feel valued.

People have certain physical, emotional and psychological needs that need to be catered for and having certain perks such as fun events, drinks or dinners can make them feel appreciated. Little gestures such as sending cards for special occasions or flowers when someone is ill can also go a long way.

Make sure that their voices are heard

Employees feel appreciated and important when they are given the chance to voice their opinion and be heard. After all, they are hired to do a certain role and may be best placed to comment on decisions or changes in process. Although every input cannot be implemented, it is better to ask your employees what they think as they might carry a good solution or bring out a point that was previously overlooked. This exercise will also help them think outside the box and come up with small improvements in processes which will improve quality of work over time.


Encourage cross-team communication

It’s easy for employees of big firms to develop silos and only interact with people in their own team or department. However, breaking down these silos will make your employees feel more connected to the company and give them better chances of getting on well with each other. Employees will enjoy the workplace environment better if it is filled with people that they get on with. Something as simple as implementing an internal chat system like Skype or Hipchat can go a long way as it can make the whole firm seem more accessible.

Read Next: Satisfaction at work is not a sprint, it’s a marathon

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