As a employer, your stress levels are on the rise. Before the recession, you were working late into the evenings, taking calls or traveling on the weekends and missing kids' soccer games and family dinner parties. And you pushed your employees' to do more in less time, with the uncertainty that goes with tough times. The economic down turn appeared and things got seriously worse.
You maybe wondering if you have to lay off some of your employees so the company can weather the economic downturn that has spared no one. Work loads are up, hours are longer and workers are less focused because morale is has been battered. And then your employees say, "I think I deserve a pay raise because I'm doing the work of three employees and I haven't had a pay raise in two years." And he or she is probably right.
Likely almost everyone deserves some kind of a pay raise. But budgets are stretched, executives won't allow it, stockholders get nervous, and margins will disappear if the salary bill goes up.
So what do you do when you can't give a pay raise but your employees have been going the extra mile with dedication since the tough times began?
Below are six alternatives to pay raises that have been successful when more dollars are just not available.
Alternative 1: Business managers often have the frequent opportunity to lunch a client, go to sporting events, concerts, etc. Step aside and pass some of those tickets along to your employees. Giving two $150 dollar tickets for a Leonard Cohen concert to a top performing employee goes a long way and provides a big ROI. This is a great way to say thanks to an employee who has achieved something special, and it shows others that the company respects and appreciates their effort and loyalty even when pays raises are in short supply.
Alternative 2: Many people today consider going out to dinner as a luxury. Treating an employee to an exceptionally good lunch is a tremendous display of appreciation. And don't discuss business! The whole point of the meal is for the employee to escape for an hour or so, enjoy a great meal and unplug.
Alternative 3: Give cell phone breaks. Fold your employees into your cell phone plan. Many companies have a negotiated plan with "bucket minutes." Cell phones have become a necessity. One less bill per month is a great feeling.
Alternative 4: Award your employee a new title. If your employee is a programmer, make him a "senior programmer." If "senior" doesn't fit, try "lead," etc. Get creative. Be sure to order new business cards for your employee, too. But be judicious and think it through – title changes often imply a promotion, which is usually accompanied by a raise. Do this carefully.
Alternative 5: Offer flextime or telecommuting. Not having to sit in traffic is appealing to most people. Coming in later means the employee gets to sleep later, reduce traffic headaches and arrive at the office a little less stressed. The option to telecommute cuts down on gas and car maintenance costs. Employees save money, and that is almost as good as a bonus.
Alternative 6: Let your employee come up with his or her own "perk." If it's a viable option, implement it immediately.
The common goal is to be creative and flexible, and demonstrate respect and partnership with employees during a rough patch. Not all these ideas apply to everyone, and they won't work forever as a replacement for competitive pay. But they are food for thought.
This is adapted from a recent article by Scott Gordon