March 17, 2016

5 Better Motivators Than Raises for Improving Employee Retention


Obviously, paying your employees a good living wage is absolutely crucial if you want to retain them. However, money isn’t the only reason behind an employees decision to stay with a company or leave it. There are much better motivators for improving employee retention than a raise.

And even though the wage being offered is certainly one of the main things would-be employees consider before taking a job and raises can definitely help to keep them around, offering them more money every year or so to stay with you is absolutely not the only way to retain your best staff members.

In fact, some studies conducted on this particular topic have shown that most employees believe that having great work relationships is a lot more important than how high their salaries are going to be. So can it be said that money can’t buy happiness in the workplace? It appears to be that way for the majority of workers.

What can you do as an employer to keep employees happy and wanting to continue working with you outside of throwing more money at them periodically?

Here are some ideas.

Hire Better Leaders

Here’s a stat you need to consider. A recent study shows that 65 percent of American workers would rather have a new boss than a pay raise. That’s a lot of disgruntled workers who don’t like their leadership.

You hear a lot about managers needing to have the ability to find the weakest links in the team and to get rid of the people who are making the workplace a negative and unenjoyable place to be. But you rarely here about the importance of weeding out the bad managers. And according to the aforementioned study, it’s obvious that there are millions of workers in America who are not very fond of the people they are work under.

How do bad bosses get to leadership positions then? There are many companies that promote people based strictly on ability and technical know-how without considering their people skills and ability to be positive forces within a team.

The better your leaders are, the happier your employees will be working for them. And there’s probably no amount of money that is going to convince someone to keep working for a manager they loathe. Having good leadership is one of the best employee retention strategies.

employee retention strategies

Offer Development and Advancement Opportunities

Money is certainly a motivator when it comes to the amount of effort employees are putting into their jobs every day, but it’s not the only factor. Instead of simply offering them more money to continue doing the same exact jobs they have been doing the entire time they have been with your company, why not give them a chance to learn new things and develop professionally?

If you are dedicated to investing in your workforce, why not invest in expanding their skill sets? Not only will you be getting more knowledgeable and skillful employees who will be able to help your business in ways they haven’t been able to previously, you’ll also get motivated and happy employees who feel fulfilled by the fact that they are learning new things and expanding their professional horizons.

So when the time comes to give an employee a raise, you can include more responsibilities and a fresh new position along with that added money. This way you’re getting more bang for your buck as well. You are giving employees a raise not because they have been doing the same job for you for a long time, but because they are now capable of doing much more than they were able to do for you previously. It’s a win-win situation.

Offer Better Benefits

There are much better ways to show that you care about your employees than simply giving them more money. Offering better and more substantial benefits is a good alternative. Giving employees better health benefits and offering free education are both good examples.

A study conducted by Bright Horizons, a company that provides company-sponsored child care and other benefits, showed that almost 90 percent of employees that have a high level of well-being at their jobs experience greater job satisfaction as well.

Employees who feel that their companies care about their health and general well-being are generally a lot more loyal and would rather stay with a company that offers a wide range of those types of benefits than work elsewhere for a higher wage without the benefits.

Another good thing for you is that many of these health benefits are tax deductible. So not only are you paying less in income taxes, you’re also getting some money coming back to you.

employee retention ideas

Make Work Fun

It has been confirmed time and time again that happier workers are more productive. Providing a positive workplace culture that allows people to be themselves, have fun and form stronger relationships within the company through organized activities has been proven to be a great employee retention strategy.

Your best workers are usually interested in more than the bottom line and they are not going to stick around in a boring, cold and impersonal work culture, no matter how much you’re willing to pay them.

Keeping the atmosphere at work light-hearted and positive really makes a difference. Taking time out to have fun at work decreases stress, builds stronger bonds and enables your company to mesh the work/life experience by getting employees to see your company as more of a family than a business.

Not only does this type of approach make employees happier, it also makes your job a lot more fun and exciting in the process.

Provide More Frequent Mini-Rewards

It’s not the size of the reward that’s important, it’s the frequency. Periodic positive feedback can go a long way in keeping your employees happy. It’s even more financially prudent to offer your employees small bonuses on a more regular basis than to promise them raises every year.

These rewards don’t even have to be financial either. You can reward great work by giving people afternoons off or more paid vacation days during the holiday season.

Employees respond better to small and frequent rewards than to large and infrequent ones. Reminding your employees on a regular basis that you appreciate their work and what they bring to your team will keep them motivated and happier in the long run much better than allowing them to toil with no positive feedback month after month in hopes of one day earning a pay raise.


More than ever before, retaining your best workers is more about culture than money. This is especially true for millennials. Today’s workers seek personal fulfillment, a better work/life balance and more engaging experiences at the workplace.

It’s important to remember that getting out your checkbook won’t fix problems that could be ingrained in your company culture.

You need to look at your company from a new perspective and work towards making it a place in which employees feel so comfortable that they would prefer staying with you in order to maintain that level of satisfaction rather than going to work for more money at another company and risk losing that sense of contentment and gratification that they already have found within your organization.