When a pandemic hits the globe the way COVID-19 has, most employees expect not to see a pay rise until the smoke clears.
However, just because COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, doesn’t mean your business is suddenly flush enough to start handing out raises again. If your employees refuse to work because of this, you can seek advice on employment law from your local solicitors. That said, it’s best to nip the issue in the bud, and reward your employees for their hard work in other ways.
In this post, we’re going to share some of the alternatives to giving your employees a raise that will satisfy them and save you money on an already restricted budget.
Alternatives to Giving Employees a Raise During COVID-19
When your business’ purse strings have been tightened, the last thing you want is to pay out a chunk of money to all your employees. However, you also don’t want your staff to leave or lower their work ethic because you refuse to pay them what they feel they deserve.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, but it can be achieved if you introduce some cheaper alternatives to giving your employees a raise. Here are the best examples of low-cost alternatives that satisfy both parties.
Bumping up someone’s salary means having to pay them more money every month, which will slowly eat away at your annual budget. However, giving your employees a one-time bonus shows them that you care and will increase their salary when you can.
Make it clear that this money is a bonus for their efforts during the pandemic and it’s all you can afford at the moment. The gesture alone, no matter how small the sum, should make your employees feel like you care about them.
2. Flex Hours
You might already be offering flex hours to some employees because of the strain COVID-19 has put on parents and those who have to look after sick relatives. However, you can extend this offer to other employees as well in lieu of giving them a raise.
The ability to start work and end work when they want to (within reason of course) will help them manage their social life and is, therefore, a bonus in itself. You could always take it one step further and offer them the coveted 10-hours-a-day 4-days-a-week gig.
3. Allow Employees to Keep Working From Home
Most employers who are able to offer working from home have already done so, especially since its mandatory in some countries.
The money saved on travel – whether it’s rail tickets or petrol – has been a financial bonus to lots of employees already. So, try not to be in too much of a rush to get your staff back in the office when the pandemic starts to ease.
Offer some employees the option to return, but leave everyone else where they are for now. If employees come back to work and start spending £200 a month on tickets and petrol again, they will start asking when their next pay rise is coming.
4. Company-Wide Half-Days
Sometimes you can’t offer remote working, or it’s more beneficial to have your staff back in the office as soon as possible.
In that case you can always offer company-wide half days, maybe on a Friday, to give them a little extra time with their families. If you can make it so your employees still do the same amount of work, it’s a win-win for both parties.
5. Development Programs
Paying an employee more money every year is the norm for a lot of companies, but what if you could put that money into developing them instead.
This is one of the easiest ways to spend less money and help an employee develop their skills at the same time. Once your employee has developed and your company is back on its feet, you can offer your employee a raise in line with their new skill level.
You can also make deals with other companies where you offer training to their employees in exchange for them training yours. In this scenario, you would be spending next to nothing, training your staff, and be giving them a bonus.
6. Extra (Paid) Time Off
A reduced budget is usually a result of reduced workload. You could use this as justification to make some of your employees redundant, but the problem is those employees might be useful to you once your business is back to its usual self.
What you can do instead is offer them all a few extra days of paid vacation. With a reduced workload you have capacity for extra holidays, and it won’t eat into your budget any more than having them come into work and not have enough work to do.
7. Buy Them Gifts
Instead of giving your employees a raise, why not spend some money and time buying them gifts. This is a similar idea to giving them bonuses, but when you actually go out of your way to buy people something, you can get away with spending less.
The fact that you’ve gone to the effort of buying something nice far outweighs the monetary value of what you buy. This doesn’t mean you have to buy them something they’ll each individually like, just go for something everyone will enjoy, like chocolate or alcohol.
Are These the Only Alternatives to Giving Employees a Raise?
In this post, we’ve shared our best ideas on rewarding employees without giving them a raise, but there are many more out there to be found.
Obviously, once your business is back on its feet, you can go back to giving your employees an annual raise. Even so, you might find that some of the other incentives you’ve tried in the meantime work well and are useful to keep around.