How to Keep Your Star Employee Motivated When You Can’t Offer a Raise Or Promotion

It’s performance review time at your company and you know that your employees aren’t exactly looking forward to it. But, as a manager, your stomach is in knots about the entire process as well.

Why? You want to reward the high-performing employees on your team that you know deserve to be recognized with a pay raise or a boost up the ladder. There’s only one problem: You don’t have the budget or resources to make that happen right now.

You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re eager to show those achievers that their contributions are valued. But, when money talks, you’re struggling to figure out how you can keep them engaged and motivated.

It’s stressful, but you don’t need to start huffing and puffing into a paper bag quite yet. I connected with three different managers and experts to get the lowdown on how you can show your employees that you appreciate them—even if you can’t offer a raise or promotion.

Get Candid With Your Direct Reports

Not being able to give an employee what they want can inspire feelings of guilt and shame. However, it’s important that you maintain a certain level of transparency with the people who work for you.

“I try very hard to be honest with my direct reports,” explains Lauren McCullough, Senior Director of Marketing here at The Muse, “There are often larger factors that contribute to not being able to offer a raise or a promotion, and these are sometimes things that my employees may not be aware of. I try to share and explain the broader context—without revealing anything confidential.”

Let’s face it—the fact that you’re not using those standard methods to recognize your team’s high-achievers isn’t going to slip by unnoticed. It’s far better to address that with them head on, so you don’

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