15 Effective Ways: Keep Your Employees Happy Without A Pay Raise

by Kylee Stone May 12,2022

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

‘How to keep employees happy is not just a question anymore. It has become a buzzword, especially in the post-pandemic era. The Great Resignation’ showed that employees are not always happy with only monetary benefits. They want more from their employers – more than just a pay raise.

There are several ways to make employees happy without having to raise their pay slab. One of the simplest ways would be to say “thank you” for their valuable contributions. Money is important, but it’s not the only answer to how to keep employees happy.

This article complies 15 best ways to keep employees happy without raising their paycheque. But before that let’s understand why the happiness of employees is so important for any company.

Why is employee happiness important?

The real strength of any company or business comes from its employees. When its employees are happy and satisfied, the company succeeds better in the long run. This is because such happy employees at work put more creative and productive efforts into accomplishing tasks and projects. 

Apart from that, happy and satisfied employees like to stick to the organization for a longer time, reducing the attrition rate and the subsequent loss from it.

Now that it is clear why employees’ happiness should be prioritized, it’s time to know how to keep employees happy.

Also read: 5 Employee Engagement Activities On A Budget!

How to Keep Employees Happy- 15 Effective Methods

1. Make work-life balance a priority

A healthy work-life balance is necessary for reducing stress and burnout risk. Such a balance also prevents employees from the dilemma of choosing between family and work. Nowadays, employees often choose workplaces that do not impact their personal life. For this reason, they are even ready to compromise on the pay scale.

Thus, providing a balanced work environment is one of the best ways to make employees happy without a pay raise.

2. Make work schedules flexible 

Flexibility at the workplace has become a new normal after the pandemic. People often look for employers who do not squeeze their employees to extract work. Instead, employers who prioritize employees’ comfort are far more popular than those with rigid work cultures. 

When employees choose their own work schedule, they perform better. Such employees feel relaxed and refreshed to complete assigned projects in better and quicker ways. Therefore, as an employer, you can ensure work flexibility to keep employees happy.

3. Let your employees participate in decision making

The norm until today was that leadership used to make decisions. By the time employees learn about them, the decisions are already taken and they can no longer take part. And this makes employees feel left out and ignored. Millennials today like to be a part of the decision-making process. Hence, any major decisions affecting the workforce should have employees’ input as well.

When evaluating how to create a healthy work atmosphere and retain employees, it is critical to listen to them and act on their feedback. If you are looking for ways how to keep employees happy, then make them feel valued by listening to them.

4. Focus on career mobility of employees

Employees should strive for career advancement and upward mobility. It gives individuals the emotional flexibility to take bigger chances, pitch new ideas, seek help and mentorship, improve their abilities, and grow in their careers.

Employees require clear guidance on how to pursue progress. It is the responsibility of employers to let them know that both career guidance and growth opportunities are available and accessible to them. Offering career advancement possibilities are one of the most effective methods to keep employees satisfied and engaged.

5. Ensure everyone works in a positive environment

Positive work environments are consistently cited as one of the most attractive attributes for employees. According to a Deloitte research, 94% of executive office bearers and 88% of the workforce believe that strong company culture is critical to a company’s success.

It is also critical to develop a whistleblowing mechanism for more openness and greater transparency. This mechanism guarantees that people have a safe route to raise any concerns, without fear of repercussions.

6. Reward employees for their hard work

It’s possible that managers don’t always realize that recognizing an employee’s hard work or accomplishments doesn’t require a huge, extravagant show of gratitude on their part. But no matter how big or small the recognition is, it plays a huge effect on how employees see their work getting appreciated. This, in turn, motivates them to continue the good work.

7. Offer Extensive Benefits – Lunch & Snacks

Snacks and lunches are a fantastic incentive, not just because they save employees time, but also prompt them to focus on their work while the company is taking care of their needs. 

Companies like Google are known for leveraging food benefits to get teams to collaborate more to get work done. This is one of the best ways to keep employees happy and you can adapt it right away.

Also read: The Cost of Employee Disengagement

8. Encourage employees to take breaks

Working hard is critical, but so is taking time to recuperate. Your staff will be happier and more productive if you encourage them to take sufficient breaks. It can be coffee runs, walks, lunch, or vacations.

Taking time off from work helps people to be more productive and focused when they return to work. Breaks have been shown to lower stress and improve performance.

9. Allow sabbaticals

Sabbaticals are risky and unconventional to keep employees happy. When employees are burdened with too much personal or family turmoil, they need a break. Forcing them to work proves to be negative, as they find it easier to switch jobs.

In such cases, “career breaks” allow employees to take time off from their jobs for a few months of break so that employees can fulfill all their liabilities. When they feel they have completed their family liabilities, they can return to their roles without the fear of being penalized.

10. Encourage innovation

Employees who believe they can advance in their careers are considerably more productive and creative. As a responsible employer, when you allow staff to focus on innovation, they feel valued. 

To foster their innovation, create a mechanism where people can pitch their fresh ideas. Once an idea has been accepted, put it into action as soon as possible. But do not forget to give credit to the person who came up with it. This will spread a positive message that you value their creativity.

11. Team building activities

Work isn’t all fun and games. That does not mean you can’t have some fun during work. 

Some managers may scoff at the idea of devoting time during the workday to something enjoyable. However, taking the time to get to know your staff outside of work can be beneficial. Furthermore, scheduling time at work to celebrate holidays or play games is an excellent strategy to increase employee happiness and counter burnout.

Ice-breaking games are excellent team-building activities, where your staff get to know others outside their professional workstations. When your staff understands each other better, their collaboration at work will be better and more fruitful.

12. Let employees pick their own project

Letting employees choose the specific work they do and what project they tackle is a growing trend in startups. The concept that employees should only work on one thing that they are passionate about is obsolete now. 

With the changing scenarios of work culture, maintaining product roadmaps that are driven by employees is far more innovative. This helps companies to maintain a higher success rate for project accomplishment. Even the employees feel they have a substantial say in what kind of work they want to do for the company.

13. Maintain transparency in the workplace

Workplace culture can have a huge impact on how employees perceive the company, but companies don’t always actively try to improve and develop a work culture that takes everyone along and paves the way for amicable collaborations.

Nothing is more crucial than being open and honest about expectations in the workplace. Transparency must begin on the first day of work itself. When a new employee joins, he/she should get every detail required for a smooth start.

Also read: 5 Creative Employee Motivation Ideas

14. Special focus on maternity/paternity packages

Everyone loves to spend the initial days with their babies when the family gets a new member. No matter how crucial the work may be, nothing seems more important than parenting the newborn. So it’s quite natural for employees to expect some time off from work when they are about to become parents. 

Maternity and paternity leave are not as expensive to provide as you would expect. Offering a hefty leave package can be a great gift to the employee who will be indebted to receive such empathy from his team members. 

15. Don’t lose focus on the purpose

Employees who have a feeling of purpose are naturally more productive. When creating a meaningful workplace, it is critical to find employees who share their vision and values.

A clear sense of purpose can improve the overall well-being and happiness of your team. When employees have a feeling of purpose at work, their engagement, dedication, and commitment to the company increase many-fold.


We hope you got the answer on how to keep employees happy. Employees’ happiness should be a priority for any employer. Since happy employees work harder and better, keeping them happy will ultimately benefit the company. 

It’s better not to assume that only money motivates employees. More than money, they look for values for themselves as well as in the work they do. So when an employer recognizes that, they give more than what is required for the development and success of the company.

Want to know how Engagedly can help you manage your hybrid employees better? Request us for a demo.

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Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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