Five Employee Perks for the Small Business Budget
Some large corporations like Google, Facebook, DreamWorks, Starbucks, and others provide extravagant incentives and perks to their employees. This sounds great, but your small to mid-market company probably doesn’t have the funds to provide employees with a $10,000 subsidy to buy a hybrid car, nor the space to build a private golf green.
However, a mistake that many entrepreneurs and small business owners make is thinking that they are too small to provide anything more than what is required by law. The reality of the situation is that you are competing for the best employees just as candidates compete for the best job, and offering the basic paycheck may not be enough anymore to attract the best talent. Offering special perks is a great way to show gratitude to your employees for their dedication to the company and to develop your company culture - without breaking the bank.
People love free food. People love food, but free food is just irresistible. Whether it’s every day, once a week, or before meetings, providing employees with a free lunch shows them a little love and gives them an opportunity to relax and socialize with their coworkers.
When it comes to work hours, steak, shoes, and anything else, quality is always more important than quantity. Instead of focusing how much your staff is working, consider how well they’re working. Studies have shown that mid-day naps are fantastic for recharging and reinvigorating employees. You can stick a couch into a windowless room that you use for storage, or nothing at all, and capitalize on the space. The staff member may be gone for half an hour, but his or her productivity will skyrocket when they come back to their desk.
Bring your dog to work day
As long as no one in your office is allergic or expresses fear and anxiety being around a dog, let employees bring their dog to work. People generally won’t bring a loud, yappy, aggressive, or otherwise annoying dog to work and risk angering their co-workers, so that shouldn’t be a worry. Having dogs in the workplace has shown to relieve tension and can foster community.
Health insurance is the most important health-related benefit you can offer, but there is plenty of room for perks beyond that. Invite a yoga instructor to conduct onsite yoga classes a few times a week, give respiratory trainers as gifts, introduce exercise balls as chairs (or standing desks), weekly onsite chair massages, or a weekly fitness boot camp to really work out any frustrations (this last idea is also a great team building exercise).
If you can’t afford to bring the perk to the employee, take the route of many startups and subsidize employee gym memberships. This incentivizes employees to go to the gym (or at least start a membership and hopefully go), making them more alert and less fatigued without out-of-pocket expenses.
Most companies go the route of formal sick days and a paid vacation policy. The reason behind this system is clear, if not a little misguided. Employees should be graded on the quality and consistency of their work, not through roll call. New startups are looking at the old way of doing things and realizing that as long as an employee is completing their work, there is no reason not to trust employees to balance their time.
Employers are realizing that the employees’ time spent away from work is as important to their productivity as the time that they are at work. In this spirit comes the volunteer day off. This is like providing an extra vacation day, but instead you’re giving a paid day off so your employee can do some community service. It makes employees feel good and it makes your company look great.