I just had a meeting with the company's board, and we concluded that we would give out a bonus, but no pay raises this year. Last year was tough; the business was roughly 30% in the red. I think most people understand the situation, but I was upset hearing this in the board meeting.
Next month, I will have to communicate the message to my employee. Putting myself in my employees' shoes, I would not be happy.
I want to ensure that they are happy and understand the situation. I plan to start with, you get a bonus, then deliver the bad news, and close it with an opportunity for next years in terms of learning and growth.
P.S. Putting money aside, everyone in my team is happy with the work. We maintain a growth mindset, 15-20% of free time for self-study, knowledge sharing, and the bottom-up culture.