How do you keep her when you can’t give her a raise? Part 1

By Madeleine Clark

Let’s start by assuming that all your women’s salaries are on par with their male counterparts. You’ve got some superstars and don’t have the financial wherewithal to give them the bonuses or raises they deserve. You know they’re being recruited actively.

You have at your disposal many other forms of rewards that can be as or even more effective, than a bump in the bank account. The key is understanding what drives each employee, which often varies by gender and stage of life. Have a menu of offerings you know you can make and then ask your high performers what is most important to them.

Here are some immediate no-cost possibilities:


In many companies, an improved title has no policy parameters attached. A new title is a meaningful change, recognizing an employee’s contribution and creating a sense of progression, in the absence of a raise. Just make sure you don’t pile on more responsibilities while her salary stays flat.


Over 80% of employees leave jobs because of dissatisfaction with their bosses. If you’re the boss, you can increase stickiness by engaging with your team more often in meaningful ways. Whether it’s investing more time in her performance reviews, finding a mentor for her, scheduling a monthly lunch or taking her to professional events, find ways to make it clear you know her real value.

A Plan

It’s stunning how many executives in our industry have never had a conversation regarding their future at the company; they’ve just gotten regular promotions and raises and a pat on the back. Knowing a company has a plan for her growth is an incredibly powerful retention tool, especially for younger workers, who place a high premium on meaning and culture in their work. A 3-year roadmap is ideal. Don’t worry whether you have the power to execute every detail exactly on schedule; make it clear that the intention and commitment are there.


This is THE new benefit. We primarily lose women in our industry because of the lack of it. Some control over the “always on” workday has proven an effective stress reliever, which also increases work quality*. For employees in a “caregiver” phase, (more often women) whether new parents, having a special-needs child, or dealing with ill or aging parents, getting supportive flexibility from their company generates stronger loyalty and retention. This is a must-have benefit for keeping great female talent all the way to the executive level.

These are just a few of a multitude of non-monetary rewards proven to increase retention. There are also dozens that cost just a little, but generate exponential ROI, which I’ll cover in my next post.

* “Quality Living, Quality WorkHR Magazine, Trend Report by Shonna Waters.

About Madeleine Clark

Madeleine Clark is the founder of HerWerk. She has a proven history of sourcing diverse candidate panels and a longstanding commitment to women’s advancement in the industry.
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