Kudos without the cost: How to hire and retain employees when offering below-average salaries

August 6th, 2019

Recruitd blog Commendation-Without-The-Cost HeaderWhat is the best way to keep your employees engaged and motivated? And how can you attract new talent to your business?

These are the questions on every employer’s mind, the questions to which most recruiters would say there is a very obvious answer: money. Increase wages. Grant bonuses. Offer shares.

But what happens when your budget – and the UK economy – deems this impossible?

Whilst inflation has steadied in recent months at 1.8%, it is expected to rise above the central bank’s target of 2%. The ONS puts the inflation-adjusted rate of wage growth at 1.3%. That means employees will be more likely to request extra money to match the increase in living costs. According to London’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 23% of the capital’s businesses are already seeing an increase in pressure for higher employee wages.

So, how do you reward your employees when you have maxed-out salary budgets and have no room to send more money their way? Read on to find out how you can keep your employees engaged without breaking the bank.

Recognise achievements

A publicised thank you can sometimes be a cringe-worthy moment in the office, but the gesture goes a long way for even the shyest of employees. It is undeniably fulfilling for a professional to have their efforts recognised and can be a real pay-off for their hard work. You could even give your ‘out of this world’ employees a rubber alien as a reward – the more memorable the better. This kind of positive reinforcement resonates to promote hard work again in the future. Plus the exposure of their success to the rest of the workforce induces higher levels of competition and a reputation to uphold. That means more passion without the pay rise.

Workplace perks

It’s easy to create an environment in which your staff feel comfortable at work, or better yet, introduce a work from home day if you haven’t already. Even complete remote work can be a huge benefit, if your trade would allow it. A more unusual perk to increase morale and build a sense of trust is to invest in new tech that your employees can share. Buy a waterproof camera like the GoPro for holidays and VR sets as a take-home for family weekends. Or if you don’t want to break the bank on tech then aim for more simple additions to the workweek: kick things off on a Monday with a good in-office breakfast, or put some beers in the fridge ready for Friday.

Extra holiday

Who doesn’t love a day off? An extra day of holiday as a reward for hard or good work is a major encouragement and will not cost a lot of money. This is a great incentive for your workforce: an unhappy employee can be toxic for your business, especially one who missed out on important events for something as trivial as having no holiday left. Help them get to that wedding, see their school-friends, or attend Comic-Con… and they’ll certainly come back to the office with a new story to tell.

Team outings

Think team-building, but your employees actually have fun. Introduce a focus on the bonding of your teams but in a more natural environment – why solve problems by building a “human bridge” when they could be building real relationships with each other? Outings vary depending on your location, but can be anything from an afternoon in the park to a trip across Europe (all within your budget, of course). For extra points and a guaranteed win, keep an ear out in the office for members mentioning particular events or places and book that. Did someone say ball-pit bar?

Industry training

Investing in an employee’s career not only helps them better themselves and therefore their performance, but portrays you as a forward-thinking, generous employer too. Enlist your talent in full qualifications or shorter professional courses to expand their knowledge and satisfy their urge for more than they already have. And build kudos for yourself in the meantime – scale your employer brand within your industry through a good reputation and prestigious employees.

Subsidised memberships and workforce perk programmes

Encouraging hobbies outside of work is essential for the modern workforce. It’s a must-have on job applications: sure you have the skills on the job, but what do you do with the other 123 hours of the week? Keep your employees both interesting and interested. Try a subsidised gym/leisure membership, or for those who are more film or foodie than fitness, join a workforce perk scheme that offers discounts across the board, like Perkbox. Hobbies outside the office promote a richer company culture and higher employee-engagement.

Local partnerships

Are you based near any local establishments? If you know of a gym, café or any other shops in your neighbourhood, strike an arrangement to partner up on behalf of your workers. Whilst some businesses may say no due to company policy, many, particularly independents, are likely to be attracted to your promise of sending more business their way. And the benefits for your employees speak for themselves: local, cheap amenities mean more time (and money) in their workweek.

Whilst experimentation with these options may require some investment, your company will make startling savings compared with the cost of increasing multiple salaries. The introduction of a new scheme or perk shows your business is evolving along with the industry, and can propel your employer brand forward as a force to be reckoned with.