Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.?
Rocky financial markets have changed the picture for venture backed startups. Instead of getting all the cash you need to get big fast, companies are losing access to new funding.
And that may mean you need to make the money you have last longer by changing your focus from rapid growth to profitability.
If your top talent is still getting offers from better-financed rivals, your company could suffer a rapid loss of talent.
The ultimate way to keep employees from bolting is to hire people who believe deeply in your company's mission and are eager to pitch in and help achieve it when times get tough.
To make your employees feel better about doing that, consider these eight ways to reward your employees without breaking the bank.
1. Let employees work from home.
Unless you need your employees to be at your office, you can make them feel good by letting them skip the commute and work from home an extra day or two a week.
That won't cost your company any more money and it will make your employees' lives a bit easier as long as they don't feel that missing face time will harm their status in the company.
2. Pay workers to serve the community.
Plenty of companies pay employees to offer community service a few days a year.
In writing my 2003 book, Value Leadership, I learned that Southwest Airlines employees found it incredibly meaningful to serve at Ronald McDonalds Houses around the country because they wanted to help the families of children being treated for cancer.
3. Give people group movie passes.
If you buy tickets in bulk for a movie outing that appeals to many of your employees, you can make your people happy, allow them to bond outside of work, and do it all for a modest amount of cash.
4. Let employees award your stars.
Another thing I learned when writing Value Leadership is that creative people love to be recognized by their peers.
3M has a Carlton Society which recognizes outstanding employee creativity -- and the rewards are given out by the employees.
It doesn't cost much money and the emotional rewards to participants is priceless.
5. Provide free car washes.
If your company is located in the Northeast, you are experiencing some snow and rain this time of year.
If you can find a place that offers group car wash books you may be able to give your employees free car washes without spending too much money.
6. Offer employee discounts on your product.
If your company sells a consumer product or service, you ought to offer employees a discount of 20% to 30%.
Once family members and friends of your employees see the product up close, some of them may go out and buy it at the regular price.
7. Add a paid day off for successful hiring leads.
Many companies pay over $1,000 to employees who recommend someone who gets hired and stays on the job for six months.
You might consider creating an incentive for such leads that costs you less -- giving the employee another paid day off.
8. Give employees your frequent buyer points.
If employees use corporate credit cards to buy airline tickets or pay for hotels, your company is the rightful owner of the frequent buyer points accumulating on those cards.
You could let your employees use those points. One consulting firm employee accumulated enough points to enjoy a deluxe skiing weekend at a Utah resort.
Letting employees use those perks makes them happy and costs your company little if anything.
Tight financial times demand affordable ways to keep employees happy.
But what will work the best is to create a culture where the people who work in your company share your values and are so passionate about working to make your company succeed that in a downturn they are willing to trade money for appreciation.