5 Secrets to Keeping Employees Happy Without a Raise

 5 Secrets to Keeping Employees Happy Without a Raise

Money can’t buy happiness! Studies show, time and again, that this old adage is indeed true. More than money, the employee experience is what correlates most strongly with happy employees. And happy employees are productive, engaged and more likely to stay and grow with your organization. So while financial compensation is an essential aspect of the employee experience, there are several other ways to boost employee happiness and engagement without necessarily providing a raise. Here are are five important aspects to focus on:

Treat people fairly

Foster a culture of inclusivity and support where employees feel respected and valued. This means creating an overall positive work environment that encourages transparency and builds trust. When people trust that you are being honest and open with them they trust they will be treated fairly no matter the request or the circumstance. And that sense of trust is the cornerstone of a great employee experience.

Start by making sure your leaders and managers understand how important trust and fairness are to the employee experience. These are the types of values that start from the top and they need to be role modeled and promoted continuously. Then work to cultivate a positive and inclusive workplace culture by encouraging open communication, collaboration, and idea-sharing; creating a safe space for feedback and suggestions; addressing any concerns or issues promptly and transparently; and promoting diversity and providing equal opportunities for all employees.

Allow people to take time off work when necessary

Employees value a healthy work-life balance. By allowing people sufficient time off they are more productive because they return to work with a more focussed and positive frame of mind. And time off is not just about the number of vacation days you provide. It also means finding ways to accommodate individual schedules, offering flexible work arrangements, and making sure people can get regular breaks from work for coffee, a walk, or lunch with a friend or colleague.

Think of your employee’s time at work as an extension of their overall lives. Help them see their work as integrating with their life versus distracting from it. Be accommodating and understanding of their needs, and provide support during times of personal or family obligations. Offer initiatives that blend work and personal interests, such as allowing employees to pursue passion projects during work hours or organizing team-building activities that align with their hobbies and interests.

Trust people to do a good job without watching over their shoulder

Showing trust in your employees is crucial for fostering a positive work environment and enhancing the employee experience. If people leaders and managers constantly hover and micromanage, employees won’t feel trusted to make decisions or feel like their contributions really matter. Happy employees not only feel like their inputs matter, they trust they can grow and develop their skills knowing they may make some mistakes along the way.

Start by encouraging delegation and allowing people to take ownership of their decisions. As you do this, provide sufficient guidelines, resources and support so that employees know they can find creative solutions and exercise their judgment within a framework that won’t penalize them for getting things wrong sometimes.  Try to avoid unnecessary monitoring, and focus instead on the outcome knowing that people need space to thrive, and that as they thrive they grow, which is imperative for both happy employees and organizational success.

Genuinely seek out and respond to suggestions and ideas

Autocratic, top-down decision-making is out. Subscribing to this out-dated notion of leadership will surely lead to unhappy employees no matter how much money they are making. Your employees’ voices deserve to be heard not only because it builds trust and respect, but also because their ideas and perspectives are often the most insightful. Remember, when people feel listened to they feel valued, and you can’t put a dollar value on that.

Foster open and transparent communication channels. Keep employees informed about relevant information, changes, and updates that may impact their work. Encourage them to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions. Actively listen to their input and consider their perspectives when making decisions. Make sure you follow up when you receive ideas and suggestions so people know that you have at least considered their idea whether you choose to act on it or not. The bottom line is, employees who feel heard and involved in decision-making processes tend to report a better employee experience.

Show appreciation for good work and extra effort

Recognition is a powerful tool when it comes to employee happiness. Everyone wants to know that the work they do is both noticed and appreciated. The reward itself can be anything – from a simple thank you to an elaborate celebration and everything in between. What’s important is that everyone has an opportunity to be recognized and that appreciation is woven into everyday work life. Small, frequent rewards that recognize a wide range of people and achievements tend to have a greater impact on overall employee happiness than large, once a year celebrations that reward a few top performers.

Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and achievements of your employees on a regular basis. Publicly recognize their contributions and share success stories. Show gratitude for their hard work, drop by their desk to say thank-you, celebrate milestones and accomplishments as a team. All of these actions create a positive and motivating work environment that improves the employee experience.

Ultimately these five ‘secrets’ are not really secrets at all. What they are however is essential to a great workplace culture. And they are just some of the questions we ask in our Trust Survey, developed based on 30+ years studying employee experience.  So while we know that financial rewards do motivate to a certain degree, we also know these other ‘secret’ elements of employee happiness go much further when it comes to creating happy employees who are motivated to work hard and dedicated to your organization’s success.

If you want to know how Great Place to Work® can help you improve your employee experience and create a strong company culture, reach out to us about our employee engagement and employer brand solutions.

Nancy Fonseca
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