You're in the early phases of your business and resources are stretched thin. When your top notch employee deserves more than you can pay, there are other ways you can extend appreciation.
A. Offer Qualitative Value
Employees have several motivators: security, growth opportunities, ownership, freedom, camaraderie, excitement and even protection from business chaos. Not every houseplant grows best in direct sunlight, nor does every friendship thrive on the same ideals. Money is one basic quantifiable motivator. However fulfilling the longings that are unique to each employee offers unquantifiable value. - O. Liam Wright, True Interaction
A. Reward With a Compensation-Based Salary
Keeping employees motivated is important. When your base salary isn't enough for your top employees, increase their motivation and efforts by offering a bonus commission or compensation when they hit certain sales or performance levels. Not only will this reward your best employees, it will also keep everyone else on their toes! - Zac Johnson, Blogging.org
A. Give Public Recognition
If you can't afford a raise, find other ways to recognize their hard work, such as publicly thanking them and getting them a small gift in front of the entire company. Depending on how much you want to keep them, you should also consider a small amount of equity, vested over four years. - Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli
A. Communicate With Your Employee
Speak with them, and find out what they value most. You might be surprised to find that money is not the most coveted means to show gratitude. Try offering a few days working from home, leaving work early to compensate for traffic or getting a longer lunch break. Communicate your gratitude, and express that you want to offer them other means of appreciation. - Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
A. Offer a Stake in the Company
Making sure your employee feels appreciated is a great first step. Do they know the extent to which their actions help your business? Let them know. Further, if you're looking to directly reward them, consider giving a stake in the company with stock options or restricted stocks. - Steven Buchwald, Buchwald & Associates
A. Give Simple Perks
Verbal recognition can do wonders, but I also like to offer simple perks and gifts. For example, I'll try to buy lunch for team members or share client perks, such as gift cards and tickets to events. - Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group
A. Learn Their Language of Appreciation
I recommend reading "The 5 Languages of Appreciate in the Workplace" by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Everybody is different when it comes to forms of appreciation. You may find that monetary compensation is not one of their languages of appreciation. People are all motivated by their own unique ways, and you may find that they work hard to afford more time off or just to be acknowledged in front of the whole organization. Start by asking them. - Cyril Agley, Talon Ventures LLC
These answers are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.