Employees are upset with the current state of work. They are asked to get more done as their workforces shrink, their disposable income shrinks, and as profits rise in their companies. At least that is what they believe is happening. Employees also believe that their employers or even the government are at fault for their current circumstances. Sure, technology, culture, globalization, and basic economics play a part, however, the cause of the employees’ struggles is irrelevant even if it isn’t the fault of the employer.

The collective perception is that it is the employer or the government’s fault, and “truth” is relative to their perceptions. Meaning employee wages is a problem and if you are an owner or employer you have to find a solution. Never mind the fact, that your company could also be experiencing financial difficulty in this fast-paced environment. You have to compete with others organizations who are experiencing the same difficulties. If you want to remain relevant in the future you will have to be creative in finding solutions to this problem.

Although the problem of finding ways to pay employees adequately according to their expectations may seem counter-intuitive economically, you may discover that you can indeed accommodate them. If you utilize your creativity and focus, you may discover that you have an abundance of solutions other than raising monetary wages at your disposal, many that are already existing within your organization.

That is why they pay you the big bucks because you solve complex problems!

Here is a reminder of 15 interesting ways you can pay employees in lieu of monetarily raising wages in no particular order:

  1. Flexible Schedule – Not the typical employer version of the flexible schedule. The employee version, a schedule that is dictated by the employee based on the needs of their life. Millennials are the driving force behind the work to live dynamic, and if you want to attract them this may be as good as money for some of them. It is true most organizations can’t do this for everybody, however,  remember there are five working generations in the workforce and not everyone has the same needs or desire for this as a benefit in lieu of money.
  2. Health Benefits – Many employers carry health insurance like dental, vision, and eye but what about counseling, gym memberships, or even coaching. If you already have these in place are you highlighting any of these benefits, are you creating excitement about your health care benefits? There are a lot of sick people in the world often due to the stress and demands of work, people are starting to realize that their health is wealth. For some, if you reward them with good health options in lieu of wages, they will repay you with loyalty.
  3. Transportation – Many major cities have public transportation systems. Paying for public transportation may be more cost-effective than raising wages for some business. For some low wage workers, in sectors such as retail salespersons, cashiers, food prep and service workers, and office workers this could be a lifesaver for those who struggle to afford their own vehicle and or transportation. And since you showed up for them in their time of need they will show to work.
  4. Housing – This may be a stretch, but there are many retail corporations who hire people to find them prime real estate or land for building their brick and mortar stores. Since e-commerce is slowing down or even reducing the physical footprints of some retail establishments maybe these organizations can use their knowledge, experience, or vacant property to assist with housing for some of their employees. Sure apartment complexes may do this for some of their employees already but what about the hotel industry. Home is where the heart is, if you can help out your employees with housing, they will show up to work engaged.
  5. Equity – giving others equity in your company is a sign of respect. It demonstrates that you value the individuals. If you give it to the right people you will receive a substantial return on your investment. It can also motivate employees to look past any current wage/salary issues and look into the quality of their contributions to their organization.
  6. Time Off – time is money, so giving someone extended vacation time or even a sabbatical for years of service and or hard work is as good as gold. They will return refreshed, re-energized, and more productive saving you the cost of turning over an overworked employee.
  7. Ladder – Highlighting the opportunity for advancement may buy you some time if you are struggling with increasing wages. By providing real potential for growth and advancement in organization employees may loan you higher productivity and commitment to the opportunity for a brighter future. This system has worked for college.
  8. Experience – They say experience is the best teacher, it is also the best way to get hired. There are many people who struggle to begin their careers because they don’t have enough experience to get in the door. In lieu of wages, offering to give employees the experience they need to advance their career, may also give you an advance to the bottom line of your organization or an employee at a bargain.
  9. Reputation – The names of certain companies on an employees resume may help accelerate their career opportunities. Highlighting the prestige of your organization may be a way to lure in top talent at a discount. By making employees aware that you are invested in helping them advance their career opportunities even if that means leaving your company, you will save money and gain trust.
  10. Philanthropy – There seems to be a spiritual awakening occurring on this planet. Organizations and employees are looking for ways to help out their world. People feel really good about themselves when they are able to help others, and they will do it for free. If your organization is tied to an important cause or purpose employees will be more likely to overlook their wage issues for gratitude in their hearts.
  11. Perks – Offering lunch, breakfast, sleep rooms, gaming areas, special guest visits, tickets to events, daycare, and awards and prizes may be a cool way to pay employees in lieu of wages. Yes, some of these things may cost money, yet, they will cost less money than raising wages for some organizations. This may not work alone but if you combine it with another item on the list, it may be the cherry on top.
  12. Tuition – Parents, and students are looking for ways to subsidize the cost of college. If your organization can find a way to help employees in this situation they will repay you with their time and service.
  13. Travel – If you are familiar with Instagram you have witnessed the nostalgia of travel. People love to take pictures of themselves traveling all over the world. If you can find a cost-effective way to help some of your employees travel and work they will happily trade in a portion of their pay for a plane ticket.
  14. Telecommute – Most people would easily trade in a portion of their pay to get away from meaningless meetings and coworkers. Giving the right employees autonomy, trust, and the ability to work at home, can give you leverage when negotiating wages in the relationship. It can also save cost on office space and other resources.
  15. Discounts – Many companies already have programs in place that give their employees discounts on shopping, purchasing a vehicle, purchasing a phone, or even airfare and hotel accommodations. However, your organization must find ways to highlight and create excitement about the best deals so that your employees recognize this benefit.

In the end, it comes down to each employer or owners ability to find creative solutions to the perceived wage issues and wage gaps in our society. While some or all of these may not make sense for your organization, they highlight one main point. There are different many ways to compensate for wage issue concerning employees. Leaders in the new world will have to understand their employees and the needs of their employees in order to properly compensate their employees to achieve the vision of the organization.