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How to Keep Employees Happy Without a Salary Raise

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Knowing how to keep employees happy is crucial for the success and productivity of any organization. A content and satisfied workforce is more engaged, motivated, and loyal, leading to increased productivity and decreased turnover. 

10 Thoughtful Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Show Appreciation without Salay Increment:

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  • Recognize and Appreciate Their Efforts: Everyone likes to know their hard work is being seen and valued. Consider introducing an employee of the month program, or simply regularly giving verbal recognition for good work in team meetings. This can significantly improve job satisfaction.
  • Flexible Work Hours: If possible, provide flexibility with work hours. This could mean allowing employees to start and end their day when it suits them, as long as the work gets done. It could also mean providing the option to work remotely if this suits your business model.
  • Learning and Development Opportunities: Provide training and development programs for employees. This not only makes them feel more competent and confident in their roles, it also shows them that you value their personal growth and want to invest in their future.
  • Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to take time off when needed. Make sure they don’t feel guilty about taking sick days or vacation time. If employees feel that their personal lives are respected, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company.
  • Open Communication: Ensure that the lines of communication are open between management and staff. Employees should feel that they can express their ideas, concerns and thoughts freely and without fear of reprisal.
  • Promote From Within: Whenever possible, try to promote from within your organization. This not only provides motivation for your team, but also demonstrates that you value their contributions and believe in their potential.
  • Create a Positive Work Environment: Foster an inclusive, respectful and positive work environment. This includes everything from maintaining a clean and safe physical space to encouraging positive interactions among employees.
  • Provide Extra Perks: Consider providing perks like free snacks, gym memberships, wellness programs, and casual dress days. These small bonuses can go a long way in making employees feel appreciated.
  • Provide Clear Career Pathways: Employees are more likely to stay with a company if they can see a clear path for advancement. Provide clear career pathways and regular reviews to discuss progress and future opportunities.
  • Encourage Team Building: Team building activities can help create a stronger bond among employees, boost morale, and reduce workplace stress. This could be as simple as regular team lunches, outings or even offsite team-building retreats.

Our office had to learn this lesson the hard way, as our corporate office demanded we go hybrid to cut costs and increase employee morale. Our CEO was obsessed with how to keep employees happy and motivated, and he figured working from home would be a major incentive. 

He was right. Not to mention, we’d been having some issues with gossip and rumors when everyone was in the office together. A few of them had gotten out of hand!

From Susan lying about her nut allergy because she hated when LeAnne put walnuts in the brownies for office parties to Tom telling everyone he received a promotion when he didn’t, we were a mess! Since our work environment was getting a little toxic, and our CEO was always working on how to keep employees from leaving a hybrid model became inevitable. 

Employee happiness in the workplace is imperative to a healthy work environment, and though not all of us wanted to leave the office, we began to feel better once we had some space from one another. The distance was working, as everyone was getting along well, laughing and chatting in group meetings without gathering around the water cooler after, gossiping. 

Our CEO ordered mugs and water bottles from SwagMagic, branded with the company logo and phrases like “Best Team Ever.” The rumors finally dissipated, though you could see LeAnn biting her tongue when Susan ate a peanut butter sandwich on camera. 

A few weeks into our hybrid environment, the rumors started back up, and this time, they were worse. 

Happy employees

Ideas to Make the Workplace Better

While our CEO was busy searching for happy workplace ideas, the direct message component of our internal communication platform was going wild with new rumors. The first was that Susan did have a nut allergy, and she was risking a reaction to make LeAnne mad. Apparently, she spent the rest of the day in the emergency room.

The next rumor came up just as the CEO sent an email asking people for ideas to make workplace better. He wanted to know how to boost employee happiness and productivity. Meanwhile, we were all under the impression that he made us work from home because he was knee-deep in gambling debts and needed inexpensive ways to keep employees happy. 

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The chat became the new water cooler as the rumors continued to swirl. In the meantime, our CEO sent us home SwagMagic shirts that said “Team Players”, and asked us to participate in a webinar that would go over things that make employees happy, including:

  1. Effective communication
  2. Recognition and rewards
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Professional development
  5. Positive work environment 
  6. Workplace wellness initiatives
  7. Open communication
  8. Workload management
  9. Employee engagement activities
  10. Quality leadership
  11. Collaborative teamwork
  12. Trust and autonomy
  13. Accessible resources and tools
  14. Opportunities for creativity
  15. Strong work relationships
  16. Flexible work options
  17. Goal Setting
  18. Mentorship
  19. Support work environments
  20. Work Appreciation

Meanwhile, no matter how we tried, we couldn’t stop talking smack about one another for the life of us. So much for team players! 

What Makes Employees Happy at Work

It was clear that none of us had any idea what makes employees happy at work. Even with our kind but somewhat oblivious CEO leading us in the right direction, we couldn’t name 5 ways to keep employees engaged and productive, let alone partake in them. 

One day, Susan received a corporate-sent nut-free box from SnackMagic. She was happy it didn’t have any walnut-filled brownies, but it also left out the delicious nut-friendly snacks available from SnackMagic. She took to the chat to admit that she wasn’t allergic to nuts, and the rumor was true. 

As our CEO piled on more benefits that make employees happy, we couldn’t help but wonder what other rumors were accurate!

Employees shaking hands

How to Make Employees Happy

We began discussing the rumors openly instead of chatting about them in our private chat messages. We asked Tom about his promotion and received confirmation from management that he had, indeed, received one. Finally, we asked our CEO if he had a gambling problem, questioning why he had closed our office space. 

He laughed heartily. “No,” he answered. “But I read the top 5 things that make employees happy, and number one was working from home!”

That might work for some offices looking for advice on how to make employees happy, but not ours. We wanted to return to work in person and promised to do so with far less gossip and time spent in the break room. 

How to Make Employees More Productive

Since happy employees are productive employees, we immediately moved our stuff back into our old office space. It was nice to see everyone, and Susan was thrilled that she could eat nuts out in the open again. LeAnne agreed to leave walnuts out of office party brownies, wishing that Susan would have just come to her in the first place. 

We learned how to make employees more productive by allowing them to work wherever they wanted and encouraging open communication among co-workers. Tom got a new office that matched his promotion, and overall, life was good. 

Benefits of Happy Employees

We always say “happy employees, happy customers” and “happy employees, happy company,” and that’s exactly what we learned from this ordeal. Our company truly saw the benefits of happy employees by allowing us to work from the office we loved so much and at home when we were sick of our co-workers. The rumors came to a complete stop, and we also experienced the following:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Reduced turnover
  3. Enhanced employee loyalty
  4. Collaboration and teamwork
  5. Better work environment

Ensuring that we were happy, including sending us swag and snacks, was a massive step forward for our CEO regarding the growth of our company. We are grateful for him beyond words, and the gambling rumor about him was the last. Our office still hears a few grumblings about those who work in it now and then, but we’ve learned to brush it off and get back to work!  


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