How to Handle Raises, Bonuses and Rewards to Motivate Your Amazon Virtual Assistant

Are you one of those entrepreneurs struggling with establishing a reward system for their VAs? Is the 13th-month pay an alien term for you? If so, you have come to the right place. We’re here to give you the clarity you need and more.

Bonuses and raises are a few of the top things that motivate virtual assistants. Motivating your VAs is vital in driving higher productivity within the company. So, you must establish a system that is beneficial both for you and your remote staff members.

In every organization, the bonus and raise system serves as a guideline to track performances and rewards. Many entrepreneurs have a hard time dealing with their own system because of the lack of uniformity and organization.

By reading this article, you’ll understand the different bonuses and raise options you can give to your virtual assistants and which ones will work best for your company.

Stay put and read through these top foolproof tips in dealing with bonuses and raises of your virtual assistants.


The 13th-month Bonus

If you have virtual assistants from the Philippines under your employ, you might have already heard about this. The 13th-month bonus is an end of the year incentive Philippine employees receive from their employers. It is equal to a month’s salary for employees who have worked for a year or more in the company or a prorated amount for those who have less than a year’s tenure.

Is It Mandatory?

A 13th-month bonus is not necessarily mandatory for virtual assistants and is only mandated upon local employers in the Philippines.

However, although it isn’t required, many entrepreneurs give a 13th-month bonus to reward and motivate their virtual assistants. Meanwhile, some other entrepreneurs do not use this bonus system, but have other ways that keep their VAs motivated.

Downsides to the 13th Month

Setting Expectations for the 13th Month Bonus and Not Following Through

Bonuses should be budgeted ahead of time.

Encountering unforeseen things like a bad end of the year and not having a backup plan can affect your budget and your relationship with your virtual assistants. Don’t over promise and under deliver.

Waiting Until the End of the Year to Give a Bonus to Show Appreciation Can Demotivate Your VAs

Having to wait for the end of the year to show that you value your VAs can be demotivating.

Make sure to schedule quarterly meetings and make time to appreciate their work by asking for feedback, continually challenging, and motivating them through little incentives throughout the year can help avoid this slump.

Dealing with Bonuses

Take a Ballpark of the 13th Month Bonus

Dividing the budgeted 13th-month bonus throughout the year is one way to show your appreciation to your VAs without waiting for the end of the year. This step is better for budgeting and also allows motivation to prosper throughout the year.

Better Chance for a Lower Turnover

Giving your virtual assistants the 13th month or any bonus keeps them motivated and can lessen turnover.

+ or – 25%

You are not obliged to give a 13th-month bonus so you can tweak it based on your VAs’ performance or budget factors.

A Nice Big Bonus at the End of the Year is Still Good

Spreading the bonus quarterly over the year is a good strategy, but dividing it in a way where the year-end bonus is more significant than the rest is better. By having this, VAs have something to look forward to at the end of the year that will make them work even harder.

Always Give an End of the Year Bonus

A year-end bonus will motivate your employees to work diligently, knowing that they will get a reward for it. We highly encourage giving every employee a year-end bonus even if they started a little late in the year.


Raises are quite different from bonuses. Unlike the 13th month bonus which somehow follows a rule, raises do not.

How Often Should You Give Raise?

A raise is one thing that highly motivates employees to do better in their work. Typically, raises are granted every 6-12 months, depending on the person’s work performance.

The key to dealing with raises is to lay it out upfront to your potential virtual assistant as early as the initial hiring process. Introduce your raise structure, expectations, and how often you will reward them.

Doing so ensures that you and your potential VA are both on the same page, and any objection will be addressed before it causes a bigger issue in the future.

How Much of a Raise Should You Give?

Deciding on how much of a pay raise you’ll be giving your VAs depends mainly on your company’s finances. It commonly falls between $0.50 to $1.00 per hour per raise.

You need to evaluate all the factors that affect pay raises like your company budget, risks, who deserves it, and their work performance. Make sure to plan your budget for raises and honor your word to prevent distrust between you and your VAs.

Helpful Tips

Setting a Precedent

Planning your raise system carefully and ahead of time will save you from having future misunderstandings with your employees. Budget plans also help ensure that future raises to be given will fit your budget.


Make sure to track raises and keep track of your virtual assistants’ work performance for easy reference in the future. You can make use of various tools or software programs to keep these documents organized.

Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback from your VAs will allow you to change things or processes that do not favor motivational factors. You can revise it and be assured that it will bear positive impact in the future.

Keep It Private

Always set a one on one meeting with your virtual assistants to discuss raises and bonuses. Keeping things private, primarily when it comes to matters about pay raise will save you from unnecessary drama and misunderstandings.

How We’ve Done It In the Past

The experience of growing our own business and having actual virtual assistants allowed us to see what’s realistic and what would work best. At FreeUp, we had 25+ VAs spread across different levels of experience and time spent with the company.

For all of our virtual assistants, we had specific rules for bonuses and raises that we clearly communicated and that we stuck to each year.

For Bonuses

With our team of virtual assistants, we first started by giving bonuses at the end of the year, similar to the best practice of a 13 month bonus.

Over time, as the team and company grew, we moved towards rewarding bonuses every 6 months. So, it would be 1 bonus halfway through the year to reward the team for their work getting us there then a final, larger bonus at the end of the year to celebrate everyone’s hard work throughout the entire year.

For Raises

For raises, we made sure to track everyone’s rate, when they joined the team, and how their performance was doing on a quarterly basis. We had a spreadsheet that listed each person, showed when they started working with FreeUp, when they received their last raise, and what their current rate was.

As leaders of the company, we reviewed the spreadsheet every quarter to see where everyone was at. When we noticed that someone had reached the 6 month mark, we’d evaluate how their performance was and then decide if they were due for a raise. If not yet, we’d evaluate again at 9 months and make a decision from there.

Once we gave raises out, we’d mark it in the spreadsheet so that we had a record of when the raise was given and what their new rate was. Having this living document helped tremendously in keeping track of the team and making sure that everyone got raises as we had promised from the get go.

Bonus and Raises Wrap Up

Clearly laying out the bonus and raise structure in the hiring process is better than sugar coating things and wasting your time. Keep an open communication line within your team of virtual assistants so everyone is on the same page.

Make it a habit to ask for your team leaders’ opinion if you have any concerns regarding a specific VA. They work closely with your VAs, and they monitor work performances, so if there’s anyone that could help you in decision making, then it would be your team leaders.

Look out for red flags that may occur, such as an employee asking for a bonus or raise out of the blue. This might indicate that something is wrong, or they may have misunderstood your instructions.

Be transparent to your employees and build a strong relationship with them.
Utilizing available tools in keeping track of bonuses, raises, and work performances of each employee can help you big time. Make use of a tracking sheet or a VA budget calculator for easier decision making.

Preparation is the key. Assess your budget and make plans for your bonus and raise structure.

Take care of your best people. Ask for feedback, and make sure that they are happy and satisfied. They are the ones behind your company’s success, so you do not want to lose them.

Final Thoughts

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” – Bob Nelson

Understand the needs of your VAs, what makes them happy and what keeps them motivated. Doing this simple act will lead to a healthy and prosperous organization. Be realistic and honest with your virtual assistants to maintain a strong and reliable connection with them.

Taking care of your people does not always convey bonuses and raises; sometimes a sincere appreciation of their work means even more. Giving them the rewards they deserve will keep them motivated and this will impact your business positively in the long run.

This is a guest post by FreeUp.

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