6 Ways to Keep Employees Happy When Raises Aren’t Possible


When the budget is too tight to allow raises, it’s important to understand how a little love can save the day.

In 1924, when the so-called Hawthorne Studies originated, researchers began to understand that job satisfaction and performance depends heavily on factors outside of money.

Another study conducted by Abraham Maslow in 1943 fully supported the Hawthorne studies and went further by introducing six levels of needs that humans require to provide satisfaction in working lives.

While these studies involve psychological complexities that go beyond the scope of this article, they can be boiled down to the important conclusion that job satisfaction and job performance often depend heavily on factors that have nothing to do with money.

Here are six things that spa owners need to know in order to improve the motivation and performance of employees when budget restrictions don’t permit giving raises as often as ideal.

1. Self-esteem

Every human has a powerful need to be accepted and valued by others. The craving for self-respect and recognition is so strong that it can dominate employee behavior and performance regardless of financial considerations.

One of the simplest ways to develop and demonstrate sincere interest in team members is to take time to learn something about each individual, then follow through from time-to-time with questions that shows they are valued.

2. Employee equalization

Favoritism, or even the appearance of it, can be a deadly enemy of positive employee attitudes. Employees who feel they are victims of favoritism are likely to develop an unseen grudge that can silently, but effectively damage the business.

Treat team members in a fair and equitable manner. Any indication that one employee is treated with more respect or appreciation than any other is a certain path to negative employee morale.

3. Good working conditions and personal safety

Personal physical safety is an instinctive human need that ranks near the top of subconscious concerns. Employees need to know that management takes reasonable precautions to protect them from workplace harm.

One of the most obvious demonstrations of this concern is an ongoing effort to make certain that all equipment, electrical and mechanical, is in good working order and is checked on a regular basis.

4. Job security

Any reasonable person understands that no employer can guarantee that an employee’s job will always be there. Still, it’s important for owners and managers to recognize employees’ concerns about job security.

Employees who feel that management strives to provide the highest possible level of job security will be motivated to do their own part by performing at their best levels.

5. Recognition and non-cash incentives

A recent report by the research firm McKinsey & Co. on motivating people strengthened the importance of recognition and non-cash incentives in the workplace. The report points out that non-cash incentives, including sincere praise and recognition, is often a stronger motivator than traditional incentives, such as bonuses.

Non-cash awards can include such obvious things as a fruit or flower basket, or dinner out with the boss. Not to be forgotten—praise and recognition from the boss.

6. Respected leadership

A serious disincentive for employee motivation is the boss failing to accept the blame when something goes wrong. A reputation for always putting the blame on others is a management deficiency that will eventually exact a heavy toll in the form of employee unrest. Being in charge means being willing to take responsibility for whatever happens on your watch.

Si Author W Lynott M

William J. Lynott is a veteran freelance writer who specializes in business management, as well as personal and business finance. His work appears regularly in leading trade publications and newspapers, in addition to consumer magazines such as Reader’s Digest, AARP Bulletin and Family Circle. He can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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