Workers have a “standstill year” ahead of them for pay, according to think tank the Resolution Foundation, which notes in a new report that prospects for wage growth in 2018 look decidedly flat.

The organisation’s latest Earnings Outlook points out that we are likely to end 2018 “pretty much where we began”. Should that forecast come true, it notes, 2018 would be “worse than every single year” in the three decades running up to the global financial crisis – but a “better than average” year for post-crisis Britain.

“Indeed,” the report says, “our own projection is that the pay squeeze may well get deeper before it eases during 2018 as inflation recedes. A noticeable year-on-year rise in real pay isn’t forecast to take place until December 2018. Happy Christmas for next year.”

It adds: “The reason pay growth not returning in 2018 matters is that without it, it’s very hard to see how incomes can make much progress. While wage-led income growth was the norm pre-crisis, occurring in nine of the 10 years running up to 2008, we’ve only experienced two years of wage-led growth since then.”

While the Foundation notes that there are glimmers of hope on the horizon for improvements in the UK’s productivity – and that the lowest-paid are likely to benefit from an increase in the National Living Wage – employee rewards through remuneration are set to be tightly restricted.

With all this in mind, which motivational measures can bosses impart to their employees that will encourage them to stay the course, work hard and help their organisations surge ahead into a time of tangible pay improvements?

The Institute of Leadership & Management's head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “While they may persuade people to hang on in their current roles, pay rises won’t make anyone automatically like their jobs more. So while pay is really important – particularly if we feel that, compared to others, we’re being inadequately rewarded – it still doesn’t provide us with intrinsic satisfaction with the work that we do.

“When we focus on the challenges of motivating people and keeping hold of them when there aren’t pay rises on the horizon, we have to look in the area of non-financial rewards. And these are the things that do make the job satisfying: interesting work, autonomy and a sense of control. In relation to those latter two qualities, flexible working can be deployed to improve workers’ ability to engage with their roles.”

Cooper adds: “Opportunities for learning and development are frequently attractive propositions. In tandem with those, employers must also keep an eye out for any issues where they have encouraged staff to acquire new skills, knowledge and capabilities, but haven’t changed their jobs to match. The scope of workers’ roles must be modified to account for any skills development they have undertaken.

“Redesigning jobs, giving people more responsibility, empowering staff, a culture of kindness and support – all of those sorts of things will help workers to say, ‘I love my job – I enjoy working here.’”

For further thoughts on inspiring and engaging your employees, check out these learning resources from the Institute