15 Unique Compensation Ideas That Increase Employee Satisfaction

Not including money, what is one good way to compensate your employees to increase job satisfaction?

Employee appreciation

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Flexibility

My team loves how much autonomy and flexibility we offer them. It allows them to feel trusted to get their work done, but to do it on their terms while being able to walk the dog, do laundry, travel, or whatever else is important to them without having to clock in and out.

Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

2. Healthcare and Commuting Budget

A lot of employees live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with their budget. The monthly $50 bill from a fitness club can be stressful, let alone a $250 bill from their insurance company. Figure out the perks that you can afford that will take stress away from your team. As personal bills disappear, the discussion around compensation moves from “need” to what is deserved.

Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

3. Equity on a Vesting Schedule

Issuing even a small amount of equity to an employee can shift their mindset to being an owner of the company who has a personal stake in its long-term success. The key is to have the equity vest over time in case the employee moves on to another opportunity, or in case they turn out to not be a good long-term fit for your company, which is often the case.

Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

4. Company Retreats

Company retreats are a great way to get your team out of their daily routines and encourage team bonding. By providing a work space, accommodations and activities, company retreats provide your employees with a better work-life balance, an opportunity to grow closer with their coworkers and an opportunity to collaborate on new projects, which in turn increases overall job satisfaction.

Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

5. Personalized Swag

We once had our graphic designer create little comical avatars of each member of our company. We added them to T-shirts and gave everyone a personalized coffee mug. Everyone in the office still uses theirs and I know of some ex-employees who have kept their shirts for years.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

6. Perks for Each Team Member

No two people on my team are exactly the same; therefore they are not driven by the same perks. I offer different options for each employee to see what perks are the most beneficial to them and make them feel most appreciated. For example, I have employees who have a particularly long commute to work, so I like to give them more days to work remotely.

Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

Work from home

7. Option to Work From Home

Giving employees the freedom to work from home makes them happier. Some people will even choose a remote job that pays less over a job that requires you to commute to an office and be there for 40 hours a week. There are so many tools nowadays, such as Slack and Zoom, that make remote work more collaborative than ever.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

8. Respect

There are many ways you could and should reward employees beyond paying them a wage, but the most powerful way to increase job satisfaction is to treat employees with respect and as fully rounded human beings with their own interests, needs and opinions. Treating employees solely as a means to the business’s ends quickly leads to demoralization and dissatisfaction.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

9. Maternity/Paternity Leave

It’s important to recognize that parenthood isn’t a completely rosy picture. Although rewarding beyond measure, it’s necessary to acknowledge that parenthood is a mentally, emotionally and physically arduous transition that can especially impact women’s mental health. If anything, adopting family-friendly benefits will surely set you apart from other employers competing for similar talent.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

10. Responsibility

Give them more to do and things that challenge them so they feel satisfied when they learn and succeed at those new and different roles and responsibilities. Every employee I’ve done that for is more enthusiastic about those prospects than a raise.

Cynthia Johnson, Ipseity Media

11. Time Off

Time has almost become more important than money. Give them more personal time each week and recognize when it is best to allow them that personal time without interrupting them with messaging and other correspondence. By showing that you respect their need for personal time rather than putting pressure on them, satisfaction will increase.

Angela Ruth, Calendar

Business team meeting for company progress report

12. Shared Evolution

Include your staff in the evolution of the company, department, process and methods. If your team feels like this is a partnership and they are helping things grow and evolve with their input included, that will go a long way toward satisfaction. Then, compensate them well for their level of professionalism. Few souls work for the sake of work, but rather to fuel their personal desires.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

13. Acknowledgement and Career Progression

One of the major reasons why people leave jobs is because they are bored and unmotivated. Therefore, to increase job satisfaction, create career progression opportunities to reward strong performance. Give employees opportunities for promotions and advancement.

Marlene Jia, TOPBOTS

14. Your Attention

I find spending time with each of my team members, like a lunch, an afternoon on the sailboat or a family dinner, is a great way to reward them and build the rapport that is so important for job satisfaction. We learn more about each other, which improves communication and understanding.

Murray Newlands, Sighted

15. Letters of Gratitude

I often write special notes to members of my team citing specific qualities that they have and praising their accomplishments if I notice that they are doing an exceptional job. I’ve gotten feedback that this small but meaningful gesture really helps them feel appreciated, seen and recognized for their work.

Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg