This is NOT about letting bosses off the hook when it comes to the bucks. Raises are great. But if you didn’t get a raise, is there something instead of a raise worth asking for? Well, there just might be. At least for now.
While we’d all like a decent raise as often as possible, sometimes there are real budget constraints. And even the best of bosses are stuck doling out a paltry 3% across the board — or some equally unsatisfying number. Or worse yet, no annual increase at all in tight times.
But that doesn’t mean the boss stops here — although all too often they do. “Sorry. Not my fault.” “Would love to show how much we appreciate you. But my hands are tied.” Really? Completely tied? Probably not if they think creatively. Even if more money is out for now.
Didn’t get a raise? What might help.
There are many creative ways to show employees some love that have nothing to do with money. And again … more money is really really good. Still, until that glorious day comes — when funds flow more freely again and some real raises are possible — I suggest a system of “ILORs.” (In Lieu of Raises.)
ILORs are an addition to any Perks the employee already has. And can be handed out when a job is well done. Or after a good review. Or even if someone goes out of their way to do something nice for co-workers. A company could make it into something people look forward to — good for morale and employee engagement.
What do IORs look like?
The exact structure of the ILOR system is of course up to the company. And can be tailored to match specific behaviors a boss wants to encourage. Some ILORS might even come from write-in nominations in acknowledgment of a good deed or task well done. Or maybe even within categories like “Solution Guru” or “Got My Back” that people vote for a few times a year!
There’s no limit to the possibilities. An ILOR can be almost anything that would be viewed as a reward. Especially if you didn’t get a raise. And I challenge bosses everywhere to start thinking about adding ILORs to your organization.
So to help get the thinking started, here are a few that certainly would have made me happy:
Some possible ILORs
- Late Start Cards – Allows the employee to come in 2 hours late on any day/week of their choice.
- Early Out Card – Allows the employee to leave early on any day / week of their choice.
- “There is a Free Lunch” Card – Employee can invite any co-worker to lunch and the boss pays.
- 1/2 Day Off Card – Lets the employee come in 4 hours late or leave 4 hours early on any day of their choice.
- Summer Fridays Off Card – Lets the employee take off a specified number of Fridays in the Summer. Can also be 1/2 days on Fridays, allowing the employee to leave after 4 hours.
- Extra Day Off Card – Simple but effective.
- Chance to Schmooze Card – Gives the employee a chance to sit with the boss and just discuss his or her ideas openly. Without the boss guiding the agenda. Or making a face.
- Two-Hour Lunch Card – I guess that’s pretty clear.
- Mini-Bonus Card – Entitles employee to a small cash bonus that any company can afford (like $200).
And here are a few more:
- Gift Certificate – Entitles employee to a small amount of purchases at some store or restaurant. And company can even negotiate with the store/restaurant to get freebies or discount.
- Project Card – Entitles employee to work on the company project of their choice. Or maybe even to design one of their own.
- Free Ride Card – Gift certificate for use of a limo for 2-4 hours.
- Get Out of “Jail” Free Card – If the employee screws up, they just present the card. And know they won’t be yelled at. Or made to feel bad in any way.
- Serendipity Walk Card – Entitles bearer to a 1 or 2-hour walk during the workday to clear their head. And think about nothing or anything. Plus, helps release tension. And hopefully sparks creativity. Personally, I think these should be handed out often!
- Ticket to shows, concerts, films, etc. – These don’t cost all that much. And they really make great ILORs.
Basic ILOR rules
Cards must be turned in when used. And time off can’t happen during any critical meetings, of course. But maybe they could become a nice extra when someone didn’t get a raise. Or got turned down for a promotion. Or just had a rough few days.
Other ways if cards feel sappy.
As I said, this is only a small sample of possibilities. Employers can certainly come up with lots of cool stuff of their own. In whatever format works for them. And if cards feel too sappy, there are other ways.
The important thing would be to hand these out for reasons that are clearly understood. And of course care should be taken to award these fairly — and not only to boss favorites.
The main point is that even if an employer can’t give out hefty raises, there are still ways to reward employees. A boss doesn’t have to feel hamstrung by a limited budget. And if you didn’t get a raise, you shouldn’t have to feel slighted and underappreciated.
And most importantly – the whole thing can be fun and kept positive. ILORs should never be used to punish anyone, such as “Everyone except Joe gets Friday afternoon off!”
But if people know these are available and can be earned through hard work and good attitude, then ILORS can help a company keep up morale even in times of tight budgets.
Best of all it doesn’t cost much.
Most of the items with a price tag are $200 or less. So a boss can’t turn to cost as an excuse. As for calculations about how much a day off costs an employer would probably be exceeded by productivity and morale gains. (I have doubts as to the validity of such calculations anyway.)
So to all the bosses out there who are stuck giving minimal raises at best … give it a shot. Come up with your own ILORs. And feel free to let me know how it goes!
If you are an employee, maybe suggest this to your boss — if you think they might listen. Whether you didn’t get a raise or not. Oh … and if your boss hates the idea, well just point them here. And put all the blame on me! Although I basically think blaming behavior is not a great idea, I give you a Blame Free Card good for this one time. 🙂
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
More posts to help
And just in case you do need to leave
Interested in some personal career coaching?
If so, click here.