What to Offer Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise

One of the worst feelings in the world is being unable to offer a hardworking employee a raise when they deserve one – especially when they come to you and ask for one and make a compelling case. When the budget is tight, and there is no room for raises, what can you do? You want to keep good employees happy and just saying “no” could send them out looking for a job. Instead of turning them down completely, explain why you can’t offer a monetary raise, and consider offering them some other perks to help fill the compensation gap while showing the employee you value them. 


A one-time bonus can provide a big boost in morale while letting the employee know you are serious about compensating them more when the salary budget allows.  

Offer Extra PTO 

Can’t boost salary? Give the employee an extra week of vacation during the year. People love having PTO, and this can often be enough to make the employee happy until raise money is in the budget.  

Flexible Hours  

Allow your employee some flexibility in their schedule. Give them an hour window each morning earlier and later than their usual start time. Tell them they still need to work their full eight hours, but if they come in an hour early, they can leave an hour early. If they come in half an hour “late,” then they stay half an hour “later.” This can help parents see their children off to school or pick them up in the afternoon, for example.  

Offer Four Tens  

Offering an employee the opportunity to work four ten-hour days per week and then have Friday off can be a huge boost in morale. If this schedule works with your workflow and fits with their family life, you could see a huge boost in engagement in the great employees who choose this option.  

Work From Home Days  

Allowing your employee to work from home once or twice a week saves them money on transportation and lunches and also gives them time back in their day. You may not be able to give them a raise at this moment, but you can provide a better work-life balance. 

Half Days  

If four tens are not an option and working remotely is not an option, let the employee take one halfday based on a frequency you can agree on. Whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly, people will appreciate the chance to cut out early and run errands, spend time with family or just relax.  

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