Emotional salary: 4 ways to get it right

emotional salary

Nowadays, the label “emotional salary” is used to identify those non-financial benefits that a company offers to its teams and that are not strictly monetary. They are also considered “social benefits” and are one of the most trendy techniques for attracting and retaining talent within the company nowadays. 

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Some classic examples of what is usually considered as an emotional salary are the following:

-Growth opportunities within the company

-Personal and professional development

-Positive working environment

-Company culture in line with the employee 

Balance between personal and professional life 

-Being included in the company’s decisions.

-Possibility of working from home

-Flexible working hours

-Personal recognition (in the form of sophisticated positive reinforcement)

The advocates of this philosophy base their argument on one indisputable fact: more and more people today are asking their companies to pay them alternatives to money. Or, at least, an increasing number of people would like to have them. This is true and it makes a lot of sense to do so: money is not everything and it does not compensate the other working conditions if they are bad or poor. 

emotional salary

From this point of view, it is good to try to enhance aspects of work and professional life, in the everyday life of the workplace. It is a question of conditions that nourish and motivate the employee without this being reflected in their bank account at the end of the month.

What should be included in the emotional salary 

Social benefits must be consistent with the rest of the working conditions and accompany the economic salary in a balanced way. That way, all retributions will transmit the same message to the worker and there will be no interference between them. 

Workers appreciate a good work environment in the office and having an approachable and talented manager. They also appreciate being organized through flexible working hours and being taken into account when implementing decisions that affect them. All of these are crucial factors in any worker’s occupational health, and it’s great to see them boosted. 

However, have you considered the possibility of going further in taking care of your employees’ health and offering them an online therapy service? It would be a great idea to promote their well-being in a more holistic way.

Ifeel has an emotional well-being program for companies designed specifically for that purpose: to provide professional psychological care, continuous and tailored to the needs of your employees, and that you can include among the benefits of working in your team. In addition, we can advise the HR managers of your company to find short, medium, and long-term solutions customized to your needs in terms of mental health in the workplace. 

What is the best way to approach emotional salary? 

The benefits that usually fall under the label of emotional salary are very valuable. Moreover, it is good for a company to make an effort to offer them to its employees. 

However, as we have just pointed out, the challenge for the company is how to present them to the employee so that they are more useful and do not convey the wrong message. The best thing to do is to make them what they are: a set of good working conditions that benefit everyone, that are not (only) aimed at alleviating a possible deficit in the economic salary and that, above all, are aimed at taking care of the employee and communicating to them that they are valuable to the company. 

Think about what you want to call this type of benefit in the company where you work. If the expression “emotional salary” is problematic for any reason, avoid sensitivities and look for a name that better fits what you offer to the employee. If you consider that it is an appropriate expression, simply keep it, always explaining in an effective way to the beneficiaries what the salary is about, since it is good for them to be aware that they are receiving it.

How to address emotional salary properly?

Regardless of what we call the non-financial benefits that our company offers its employees, let’s take a look at some tips to maximize their advantages.

1. Be clear with what you offer 

Offer as “emotional salary” only those things that are clearly a plus and that cannot be considered as an indispensable minimum. This way, the company acquires a differential value with respect to others and becomes more attractive in terms of talent retention. 

emotional salary

In this sense, a good example of emotional salary would be to offer the possibility of receiving psychological care through specialized online platforms. The company is not obliged to do so, but if it does, it is a very appreciated detail and contributes to the team’s wellbeing. If you decide you want to do this, you can consult ifeel’s emotional well-being program for companies. Through this program your employees will have access to the online therapy service in a totally confidential, constant, and comfortable way, with the possibility of having daily communication with a psychologist, taking care of their mental health, and improving their productivity. 

On the contrary, a less powerful example of an emotional salary would be to offer a good working environment or expressions of personal recognition, as this is something that should be included as a starting point in any well-functioning company.  

2. Targeting different salaries

Ideally, staff should have an adequate financial salary before putting energy into promoting a good “emotional salary”. It is true that people want to work in a pleasant place, performing tasks that allow them to grow and gain recognition. But workers are also concerned about paying for groceries, children’s school, English classes, or their bills.  

It is likely that with a poor salary but good non-financial conditions the worker will be satisfied. However, this will only last in time in the case of jobs that are highly motivating/enriching in themselves, people who have no other work alternatives, or those who tend to settle in. The rest -those who are not motivated enough or have alternatives- will end up leaving in search of better opportunities. Where to? Where they are better paid, both financially and “emotionally”. 

That is why you should try to ensure that the company’s economic aspects are covered properly because that already satisfies the worker and satisfaction is the first step towards an emotional salary. In addition, you should focus the emotional salary on those benefits that make your worker’s life easier and more pleasant, and in a way that is as directed to their particular needs as possible.

3. Ask your team what they need

When in doubt, asking employees what they value, what they need, how they feel, or how the company could make their lives easier is more useful than taking for granted what will motivate them. In other words: taking them into account when deciding what emotional salary they want is also to start paying them the emotional salary.

In companies, especially those with a large workforce, people are very diverse in terms of age, lifestyles, family burdens, job categories… This means that not all possible benefits are equally powerful for everyone. Therefore, if you also want to prevent comparative grievances, you should avoid discretionary compensation for one type of worker at the expense of another. 

A typical example of this mistake would be to reserve remote work, flexible working hours, and the use of the company’s financial resources (e.g. discounts on private childcare) for those who have dependent children and not to have any equivalent consideration for those who are single (young and not so young) on the assumption that they are more available and can act as a counterbalance. 

emotional salary

4. Ask for external help 

If you are responsible for this type of issue in your company, you are not expected to know how to hit the nail on the head. It is more useful for you to realize what might be going wrong and ask for specialized help to start fixing it. As mentioned above, at ifeel we have a special program for companies to improve your employees’ emotional well-being and to advise your HR managers on an ongoing basis. 

You can ask us about your company’s specific situation and together we will find a solution that fits your needs and helps you make the most of all your HR resources. This way you will be able to solve current difficulties, for example on how to manage social benefits for workers and invest in something really efficient for any company: preventing future problems regarding the team’s health.

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