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How to Keep Your Top Performers When You Can’t Offer a Raise

by Charlotte Freed | Sep 28, 2018

Giving your employees a quick thumbs up could help keep them aroundAs the driver shortage becomes more prevalent and hiring demands increase, it can be terrifying to think about losing your top performing people. While of course you want to retain your best people by offering pay raises and granting bonuses, sometimes a strict budget or tight resources won’t allow for it. How then, are you able to keep your best workers without speaking to them in cold, hard cash?

It may be surprising, but a study shows that lack of appreciation from managers is the number one employee complaint from 63 percent of those surveyed. Considering engagement levels increase by 60 percent when managers recognize employees’ contribution, it’s in everyone’s best interest to focus attention on showing your appreciation for your team’s hard work.

When struggling to determine how you can keep the people you want and need when the company isn’t flush with reserves, consider advice from those who have learned to show appreciation in other vital forms.

Ask for Insights

Asking your direct reports what is important to them is a reliable way to gain understanding of what will keep them on board with you. While monetary incentive is usually going to top the list, you’ll gain insights into other things you may be able to offer such as more flexibility, time off, or helping them to explore different skill-sets or roles. By learning what they want more of, you’ll be able to offer alternatives to a financial increase that still make them feel valued.

Be Candid

It may be uncomfortable not being able to give employees what they want, but being transparent about the situation makes a big positive difference. If a promotion or raise isn’t viable, address this head-on with your team’s high-achievers. A missed opportunity for a raise will not go unnoticed. If you allow for a conversation about it, employees are less likely to feel underappreciated or question their performance. Open conversation promotes trust and your employees will be much more comfortable knowing the bigger picture. 

Be their Advocate

If the opportunity for a minor raise is available, fight for your top performers to get it. Many times, even a small increase can satisfy an employee. If there isn’t an opportunity for a financial increase, find out how you can help them work toward their long-term career goals and what they need to make them happen. You may be able to provide professional support or assist in developing a growth plan which will ultimately serve them well in the long-term. When your employees know that you support them, they’re less likely to get too discouraged.

There is definitely stock in financial incentives, but long-term encouragement and recognition builds a culture that makes people want to stay. Think of the ways you personally like to be acknowledged, listen to what your team wants, and show appreciation in ways that truly last.

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