This article was written by our partner, OnPay, who helps small businesses and accountants move forward by making payroll, HR, and benefits easy, affordable, and error-free.
Attracting and hanging on to top talent can be a challenge to all types (and sizes) of companies. That’s why many businesses are doing everything they can to stand out from the crowd — and they’re doing it in ways you might not expect. While recent research by SHRM shows that offering traditional benefits helps improve retention and morale, perks can offer a more affordable and unexpected way to keep employees happy.
Here are some ideas for bringing more joy to your workplace, and potentially building a stronger culture in the process.
1. Food, food, food
While this is one of the more basic options, it’s one that is always appreciated. Something as simple as offering free snacks, soft drinks, or lunch once a week can go a long way for your employees. You can also go the extra mile and offer a special treat when your employees are working extra hard, on birthdays, or to celebrate them getting certifications or passing exams. Feeling valued and recognized for their achievements is always appreciated.
2. Company events
Hosting company events is a great way to present your employees with opportunities to engage with others outside of their department or team. While they may have the chance to chat and get to know one another during work hours, employees are more likely to be sociable in a more casual environment. You could plan anything from an annual company party to a virtual happy hour to trivia games — whatever suits your business best. This perk also plays a role in establishing company culture, which is a big factor for candidates applying to jobs.
3. Gym membership and reimbursement
A study of the University of Louisville wellness initiative found that every dollar invested in a wellness program returned $7 in healthcare savings. Not only that, but people were also healthier, and that can lead to fewer absences and higher productivity. And what better way to encourage a healthy lifestyle than offering a wellness program or taking care of reimbursement for a gym membership? Or, consider covering the cost of a class of your employees’ choice like cycling, yoga, pilates, or boxing.
4. Volunteer time off
Offering paid time off is pretty standard for vacation time and sick days, but have you considered offering time off for a different reason? It’s a growing trend for businesses to offer an additional day — or more — away for employees to volunteer with a charity or organization of their choice. There’s even a term for it: Volunteer Time Off. Not only can it help increase employee morale, but it encourages your employees to give back to the community where you do business.
5. Discounts on your products or services
Another option is to offer a special employee discount or deal on the products or services your business sells. Discounted coffee beans? Reduced yoga pants? Meal coupons? Some companies offer a percentage off their products while others pay cash stipends to enjoy their services — and give feedback on the experience. Perks like these (often seen at global corporations) may seem out of reach, but the principle scales up and down: they help make you money, so help your employees by saving them some.
Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face quite like seeing adorable puppy eyes everywhere they turn. That’s why “bring your dog to work day” is often so highly anticipated in workplaces. Employees probably don’t enjoy leaving their pets behind while they’re at work, so allowing Spot or Rover to join them can be a great de-stressor. And, if the pet is well-trained, they can be a wonderful welcome for your customers stepping into your store, too. Just check to make sure nobody’s allergic before Fido becomes a workplace mainstay.
7. Extended parental leave
It’s no secret that balancing work with becoming a new parent can be a challenge. And while most companies do offer some time off for new parents, there’s no guarantee that it’s paid, or that it feels like enough time for mom or dad to feel ready to return to work. If your current policy could use some updates, consider talking with your employees about what they’d love to see. While you may not be able to follow in Silicon Valley’s footsteps and offer things like a paid year of parental leave, there are ways to help your employees feel they are protected and respected while they take time to care for the new addition.
8. A space for relaxation and breaks
Everyone needs a little time to blow off some steam, catch up with their co-workers, or just recharge. Providing a space that’s designated for breaks or relaxation time allows employees to take that well-deserved moment they’ve been working so hard for. Consider equipping the space with tables and chairs, comfortable furniture, games, or other fun activities you and your employees can enjoy. After all, we spend a third of our life together. Why not make some of it fun?
9. Tuition reimbursement
Are there any courses, certifications, or exams your employees could take that would improve their skill set while benefiting your business? If so, you can offer to reimburse the costs associated with taking them. Your employees receive further education and, in turn, bring that knowledge and newfound expertise to work — where they can put it to good use. Some employers even cover the cost of tuition for their employees to get an advanced degree if they believe it will bring value to the business.
The addition of any of these perks to your benefits package is sure to attract some new talent to your business, or just make your current employees happier. And bonus — anything you offer to your employees, you get to enjoy yourself, too.