It's been a hotly debated topic by the presidential candidates, and California recently voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Any increase directly impacts a company's bottom line.

The competition for talent is fierce and many small businesses can't afford to outbid their big rivals in order to attract and build strong teams.

But creating a compelling offer for a candidate, or existing employee, doesn't need to be centered around a pay rise. If offering more cash isn't a possibility, there are plenty of other ways to reward existing staff or attract a new hire without offering more cash.

Offer the opportunity to learn

Smart people need to be challenged intellectually. Setting up a mentor or professional development program, where employees refine their skills and learn new ones, can help motivate staff.

These initiatives don't need to cost you a ton either. Leverage your network or leaders within your business to share their knowledge.

Offer ownership

While it's not always viable to offer a cash bonus or a pay rise, in some instances, offering stock that vests over a few years can be a very motivating offer. It also has the added bonus of incentivizing staff to commit to staying at the company.

Offer days off

An early mark on a Friday or an extra week of PTO are great ways to attract staff. It's a way to be generous, without it costing the company a lot of money upfront.

Offer a better work environment

Invest in good coffee, healthy snacks and upgrade your surrounds. Having standing desks, up-to-date technology and stylish breakout areas are ways to motivate and reward staff.

Offer flexible working conditions

With most companies now able to work in the cloud, using Google For Work apps, Xero and Dropbox, it's easier than ever to offer staff the option to work from home some days.

It also means staff can establish a better work-life integration. If you have to pick your kid up from school, you can log on later at night and still get your job done. No hassle, more hustle.

Offer responsibility

Rewarding staff by giving them more responsibility, the opportunity to run point on a project or even a better title are all ways to reward commitment.


Figuring out how to reward staff in creative ways can boost loyalty and happiness. Happier employees are less likely to leave you high and dry, they're committed and can help drive your business forward.