For many workers, there's nothing better than a raise to kick off the start of a new year. But if your financial resources are limited, boosting workers' pay may not be an option this year. Still, that doesn't mean you can't show your appreciation in other ways. Here are a few things to do for your employees if a salary increase isn't in the cards.
1. Be more generous with praise
Boosting your workers' pay shows that you recognize the effort they consistently put forth. But there's another way to show your appreciation -- say so. Make a point of acknowledging your top performers both in private and public forums. Send out a weekly email highlighting individual wins. Applaud exceptionally strong efforts during companywide meetings, and keep promoting employees to higher positions, even if you can't offer any pay to go along with it. This will send the message that you're aware of who your most valued players are, and while it won't take the place of more money, it'll help soften the blow of its absence.
2. Offer more flexibility
Many workers today struggle to maintain a decent work-life balance. If you don't have more money to give out in the coming year, offer up the gift of flexibility. Let employees whose jobs aren't tied to a physical location do their work remotely -- if not on a daily basis, then at least once or twice a week. Similarly, give workers the option of setting their own schedules to suit their lifestyles. If you have an employee who wants to be home for their kids' after-school activities, let them work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. rather than the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. setup. Being flexible shows your workers that you value their time and respect that they have lives outside the office, and that's something that can certainly compensate for a lack of a raise.
3. Improve your time off policy
U.S. companies are notoriously stingy with time off. Now if you're running a smaller operation, allowing your workers to take more time off might seem like it'll be a blow to your business, but if you're strategic about it, that won't necessarily be the case. In fact, rather than increase workers' yearly vacation allotment by a certain number of days, consider an unlimited time off policy. These policies hinge on workers using their judgment, and often, they work out in employers' favor. At the same time, they give employees a degree of freedom that so many crave.
If you're hesitant to offer limitless time off, at the very least, improve your sick time policy so that workers don't feel compelled to drag themselves into the office when they aren't well to avoid losing out on pay. Better yet, extend this policy to family illnesses so that workers are able to take time off when their children or loved ones get sick.
You can't make money materialize out of nowhere, so if you don't have the financial ability to raise your workers' pay this year, your employees might just have to accept the fact that their wages won't be going up. At the same time, think about the things you can do to compensate. After all, the last thing you want is to lose valuable workers to a competitor because of money alone.