Unusual Benefits to Offer Your Employees
When working on a tight budget, it can be hard to think of benefits for staff. However, a little imagination and creativity can go a long way
Offering benefits above a standard wage or salary to your employees can bring a huge benefit to your employees’ productivity, engagement levels, absenteeism and loyalty. Benefits can be used as a cheaper alternative to retain employees over raising salary. However, as a small or medium-sized business, you are unlikely to have the budget to offer your employee benefits that larger companies are able to give. So what initiatives can you take to help ensure your employees feel valued whilst still keeping costs to a minimum?
Basic Concepts Involved with Employee Benefits
There are two major types of employee benefits; core and flexible.
Core benefits are enjoyed by all employees so will include things such as pensions, basics insurance and annual leave.
Flexible benefits offer the choice to each employee, allowing them to decide if they enjoy the benefit/perk or not.
Something else to consider in this current economical climate is that younger employees have a stronger desire for benefits than older employees and many employees, young or old, are happy to pay for part or even all of the cost of the benefit.
Creative Employee Benefits
There are a few creative perks which can be adopted, offering a cheaper alternative to traditional larger business perks such as in-house gyms or company car schemes:
Relax your Workplace Rules
There are many employees out there who will feel more relaxed being able to wear casual clothing. This will also improve creativity and improve communication between employees (which could be seen as either good or bad depending on their job role).
There are a few businesses out there which allow dogs in the office or shop. This can be a real deal maker for attracting and retaining employees and may also add that extra uniqueness your store needs.[I once went for a job interview at a vibrant and creative marketing events company and was pleasantly greeted by a small dog on arrival. It instantly relaxed me which was perfect for the situation and lived happily under its owner’s desk during the day. Just be aware that other customers and employees may be allergic to dogs.]
Support Employees Outside of Work
Occasionally, an employee may be, or may want to be, enrolled in an education course outside of work. By offering to pay for part or all of the costs involved in their education you will be seen to be supporting your employees. This may be a cheaper way to go about pleasing an employee who may perhaps want a pay rise in order to pay for the class themselves.
There is evidence to show that employees who actively seek new knowledge and skills out of work hours are more likely to seek knowledge during work hours about their roles, making your employees more proactive with problem solving.
Remain as Flexible as Possible
By being as flexible as possible with when your employees can work you will be allowing employees to get on with other matters in their lives. For younger employees, this will ensure that they can continue to work at your establishment whilst studying or taking part in other activities. Workers with young families may also request the right to work flexibly too.
If possible, you could also allow agreed shift-swaps between employees, allow employees to work from home, or offer more unpaid leave above usual annual leave allowances.
The Little Things…
Sometimes it’s the little things make all the difference:
- Surprise your employees with a free lunch
- Buy your employees dinner and pay for the cab home if they work later than usual
- Celebrate your employees’ birthdays and buy them a cake and get a card signed by everyone (it is likely that one of your employees will enjoy taking on the birthday remembrance role so you will not need to put much time into it)
- Invest in a decent coffee machine. Coffee supposedly has many benefits to improve work productivity and employee health which many people are unaware of.
- Use your personal network to secure any exciting deals and offers which you may be able to pass on to your employees. For example, you may know someone who works for a football stadium and can give you a few cheap match tickets which your employees can enjoy.
- ‘Office drinks’ at a local pub can occur every so often to keep the spirits of your employees high
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to show your employees that they are valued, but with a little thought, your business’ benefit scheme could be the reason for useful employees sticking with you and being at their best.