What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise

August 26, 2016 Pete Jansons

It’s the question every small business leader dreads: “Can I have a raise?” It’s not that you don’t want to grant your employees a raise — especially when they deserve it — it’s that you simply don’t have the budget right now.

If you’ve ran the numbers and there’s simply no way to offer your employee a raise right now, it is best to be honest with the employee and explain the situation. Your employee will appreciate your honesty and be much more understanding if there’s a valid reason behind it; however, it’s important that you give them an idea of when a raise might be possible and schedule a time to revisit the conversation.

In the meantime, there are other perks you may be able to offer to help fill the compensation gap, ease their expenses and show just how much you value their time and contribution.

One-time bonus. You may not be able to offer a salary bump, but a one-time bonus could provide a temporary boost to both your employee’s paycheck and his or her morale.

Flexible schedule. If you can’t offer a raise, consider giving your employee more flexibility in their schedule to accommodate their lifestyle needs. This might mean letting the employees come in earlier and leave earlier – or vice versa. Another option? Letting the employee work four 10-hour days, as opposed to five 8-hour days.

Telecommuting options. Allowing your employee to work from home once or twice a week would not only save them money spent on transportation costs, it would also give them time back in their day, promoting a better work-life balance.

Half-days. If you can’t offer a whole day off or working remotely isn’t an option, letting the employee work one half-day a week can still help immensely with work/life balance. You’d be amazed how much your employee will appreciate an extra four hours back in their week to take care of personal errands, spend time with family or simply regroup.

Extra paid time off. Granting extra vacation time can be a viable option. Not only will employees benefit from the extra leisure time, your business can benefit, too, as employees return from their time off feeling refreshed and re-energized.

Transportation reimbursement. Between the paying for gas, toll fees and bus and train fares, the price of commuting can add up. Offering your employees money back for their transportation costs can help ease some of their financial burdens.

Tuition reimbursement. Show your employee you are invested in his or her well-being and professional development by offering to foot the bill for ongoing training – in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, certifications or continuing education classes. Many companies offer partial or full reimbursement for Master’s degrees. Not only will your employee appreciate it, the money you invest will directly benefit your company.

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