As a business owner for nearly 25 years, this is the time of year when my inner struggle starts about giving bonuses. Everyone in my firm works super hard. Most are fully engaged or they wouldn't last, but some? Not so much. Why do some employees go the extra mile and others watch the clock tick, focusing on when the bell rings and the day is over? In the public relations business, our job is never done. There is always more to do, more contacts to reach out to, more to write.  

According to Kiplinger, the forecast for pay raises in 2017 is at a rate of 3 percent, which is comparable to years past. However, trying to live comfortably in most metro areas, can be a very tough pill to swallow with that kind of increase. Although business may be robust, money is still always a little tight. While employers would like to give increases to those whose performances are stellar, many still have to make tough choices and stretch every dollar, which often times comes at the expense of raises and bonuses to staff.

But who are the power players in your organization that you as a business owner can coach about how they can improve their standing and poise themselves for additional bonuses and higher raises?

I've compiled 5 tips to give your star employees some incentive.

1. Encourage your employees to cultivate relationships with their managers and colleagues

The message of getting to know the people you work with is key. Lead by example and share a meal with them or a cup of coffee to get to know what their interests are within your organization. Emphasize the value of contributing to projects and/or teams before they're asked, so when opportunities arise with the potential for a raise or bonus their managers will think of them first.

2. Inspire your employees to over deliver

Taking the short cut never ever works. Your job as a manager is to provide an environment that shows and rewards those who have a commitment to being great at every turn. Set strong goals and reporting vehicles so your people can track their progress (and so can you).

 3. Reward those in your organization who care

As managers we all know there is a huge difference between employees who embrace their jobs with enthusiasm and those who have their subway token on their desk for their return home in the evening from the moment they walk into the office in the morning. There's no doubt we all have lives outside the office, but there are times, especially early on when new employees need to know "the how" of how to get ahead. It's up to you to teach, inspire, and reward. 

4. Half the Battle is Showing Up...But Let's be Flexible About it

Not enough can be said about punctuality...but some people prefer to work late while some are early birds. I have found that it works out if we all pay attention to each others' circadian rhythm and try to be flexible with arrival times. For me, when it comes to establishing who's worthy of a bonus and/or raise--it's all about getting the job done on time.

5. Help Your People Market Themselves

We all have areas of expertise and our unique talents. Let your co-workers know what your strengths are and offer to assist them with theirs, as needed. Word-of-mouth is always one of the best marketing tools. If they learn to market themselves for a raise or bonus they have more control and can work on ways to get it.