7 Creative Ways to Reward Employees without a Salary Raise

7 Creative Ways to Reward Employees without a Salary Raise

By being creative with how you offer raises, you can stay within budget while still making your employees feel valued.

Giving your employees a raise is a significant way to show your employees that you value their work and compensate them appropriately for their contributions. Failing to acknowledge the work of your employees can be ‌costly for startups. A OnePoll survey of 2,000 workers found that almost half of ‌American workers (46%) have quit a job due to feeling unrecognized, and 65% of respondents said they would put in more effort if they felt like their efforts were noticed by management. However, with limited resources and an inflationary environment in 2023, salary increases may not always be feasible

Fortunately, there are alternative methods of rewarding employees that don’t require you to bust the bank. In this article, we explore some of these alternatives that can help you demonstrate your appreciation for your team’s hard work and dedication.

Team outings

Team outings are an effective way to boost morale, productivity and creativity by allowing employees to bond with one another outside the office.

To cater to a diverse group of employees with different interests, there are many options to choose from. For the active folks, you may try outdoor activities like hiking or go-karting; if the team prefers something more relaxed, consider going to a movie or concert or spending a day at the spa together. By offering a range of options, companies can ensure that there is something for everyone, making team outings a fun and memorable experience for all employees.

Bonuses instead of salary hikes

Rather than base rate increases, consider giving bonuses based on performance and experience. Acknowledge and reward employee achievements, such as when reaching sales goals, exceeding job duties, making referrals, etc. with bonuses, which can incentivize them to continue excelling in their roles. Frequent bonus plans can be budget-friendly and boost employee satisfaction and engagement.


Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy gym memberships, skill-related courses memberships and bookstore credits—all of which can lead to a happier, healthier workforce. This sort of reward also creates valuable business connections down the road, thus helping them level up their skills. So why not offer your employees a yearly membership to a gym, club or bookstore instead of a salary raise? It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Company awards

While some may argue that salary increases are the best way to show appreciation for hard work, research indicates that employees care more about feeling valued than they do about making more money. 52.5% of employees want more recognition from their immediate manager. And yet, only 18% of organizations give employee-of-the-month awards. After all, what good is a raise if your employees feel unappreciated? 

Awards are a great way to show your employees that you value their hard work and contributions. They can make your employees more confident and feel appreciated, leading to a more efficient, innovative workforce with lower turnover rates. It also shows potential candidates that your organization is a fantastic place to work, which may help you attract top talent.

Family vacations

Offering a family vacation instead of a salary hike may seem unconventional, but it can actually be a creative and cost-saving way to show appreciation to employees. It’s a meaningful gesture that says, “Thank you for your efforts. Here is something special for you and your loved ones.” 

When organizing this perk, clearly outline specifics, such as the number of family members allowed, the duration of the trip and available transportation, to ensure everyone is informed. This attention to detail will ensure everyone is on the same page.


Four in ten adults who left their jobs in 2021 cited long hours as the main reason. Startups often require extensive work that can sometimes stretch into weekends and holidays. While remuneration and potential for growth are important to employees, companies must also offer flexible work arrangements to help them balance their job and personal responsibilities. 

65% of people would prefer an employer that offers remote working options, with the added perks of reduced commuting time and greater control over family matters.

Training opportunities

When it comes to incentivizing staff, training opportunities are often overlooked. However, 94% of employees report that they would stay longer with a company that invests in their development. Investing in employee growth benefits both the employee and the business. 

A McKinsey study found that 87% of companies have identified (or predicted) skills gaps in the years ahead. Hence, taking steps to train employees is essential to fill these gaps, reduce recruitment costs and avoid falling behind.

If you take all of these factors into consideration, rewarding your employees doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning and thoughtfulness, you can show your appreciation for their hard work without breaking the bank.

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Header image courtesy of Freepik


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