Skip to main content

Ways to Reward Employees When You Can’t Afford Raises

By August 24, 2023October 19th, 2023No Comments

Honest discussions about financial constraints help build trust and understanding within a team. When budgets are tight and granting salary raises is impossible, organizations can still reward their employees and show appreciation in various ways.

Here are a few practical ways to do so:

What about flex hours for work-life balance

Consider offering more flexibility in your employees’ work schedules. Allow them to adjust their hours to suit their personal needs better. For instance, they could start later in the day, work shorter weekdays with some hours on weekends, or switch to a four-day workweek with longer daily hours. This increased flexibility can help employees find a better work-life balance and spend more time with their families or pursue personal interests.

Consider half-days or summer Fridays or Mondays

Grant your employees additional time off by offering half-days or instituting Summer Fridays, where the team or individual employees (based on program/client needs) enjoy extended weekends during the summer months (e.g., Fridays off from June to September). This arrangement can often work with cooperation, clear communication, and flexibility on both the staff and employer sides. Providing this extra time to rest and recharge can boost morale and show your employees that you care about their well-being.

Contemplate an entertainment allowance

While financial constraints may prevent significant raises, you can still support your employees’ well-being by offering an entertainment allowance. Employers can allocate a specific amount of money for leisure activities, such as subsidizing TV streaming subscriptions, children’s entertainment, arts and crafts supplies, puzzles, community classes, and virtual workshops. These activities allow employees to relax, enjoy their downtime, and do something fun and stress-relieving.

Small bonuses

While permanent salary increases may not be feasible, consider providing one-time bonuses to employees based on their performance or other achievements. These bonuses can be significant financial boosts for your employees and demonstrate your commitment to recognizing their hard work and dedication to the organization.

Additionally, here are a few more tips that may be relevant to post-pandemic work life:

Remote work options

Remote work options are our first suggestion for building a flexible work schedule. If your organization adopted remote work during the pandemic, consider continuing to offer this option or a hybrid option if it’s feasible for your operations. Remote work can be a desirable perk for employees, as it provides greater flexibility and eliminates the need for commuting, leading to potential cost savings and improved work-life balance.

Professional development opportunities

Invest in your employees’ growth by providing opportunities for professional development. Examples include covering the cost of online courses, workshops, or conferences that align with their career goals. Supporting their growth can lead to increased job satisfaction, improved performance, and a potential desire to stay with the organization.

Employee recognition programs

Implement an employee recognition program to acknowledge outstanding achievements and contributions. Recognizing employees publicly and rewarding them with small tokens of appreciation, such as gift cards or organization-branded merchandise, can go a long way in boosting morale and motivation.

Remember, when budgets are tight, it’s essential to be transparent and communicate with your employees about the situation, and it can facilitate some creative alternatives. Consider asking your employees what they would find valuable and offering different options to employees based on their wants and needs.


501(c) Services has more than 40 years of experience helping nonprofits with unemployment outsourcing, reimbursing, and HR services. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy, and we are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.

Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.

Already working with us and need assistance with an HR or unemployment issue? Contact us here.

(Images by tongpatong and billionphotos)

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

501c Services newsletter sign up - popup graphic envelope letter

Keep up with
the news

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for timely updates, news, and events.