25 Ways to Perk Up Employees (Without a Lot of Cost)
(Download these ideas in our pretty pdf format)
Small businesses have to compete for top talent, like everyone else. But it’s not always a level playing field. The big boys can sometimes offer more in straight compensation. But that doesn’t mean small businesses don’t have a few tools of their own to entice stars into their offices. There are many attractive perks you can offer to all your employees that will make coming to work that much more attractive—and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Here are a few:
1. Flex time. Some organizations require employees to be at work during core hours, and employee can set their schedule around this. Others allow employees to put in hours at their own discretion. Most require employees to have a set schedule so managers can plan for coverage. The schedule may be adjusted to accommodate personal matters like doctor's appointments.
2. Monthly commuter benefits. Offer a monthly stipend ($100 or so) for those who commute by public transportation. In many cities where mass transit is used, companies offer tax-free transit fare programs; you can learn more about the options available from programs like TransitChek or Commuter Check. These programs also save companies money in payroll taxes.
3. Fully stocked kitchen. Provide free coffee, soft drinks, and snacks for employees during work hours. Want to bump this up a notch? Keep organic milk in stock and add fresh fruit and healthy options to the shopping list.
4. Wellness benefits. Employees can receive reimbursement for purchases related to fitness (up to $300/year). Typical items reimbursed include gym memberships, running shoes, yoga mats, bicycles, and so on.
5. Free lunch. Order in for all your employees once a week to foster community and give employees a break from packing their lunches.
6. Canine colleagues. Got an office full of dog lovers? Then invite house-trained visitors to join the team.
7. Parental leave. As this infographic shows, the U.S. has some of the weakest paid family-leave benefits anywhere--while some states guarantee paid leave, it's not a federal mandate. You can immediately differentiate your company by making sure all employees are eligible for paid time off after the birth or adoption of a child.
8. Summer hours. Employees kick back early on Fridays during the summer months, allowing them to beat the heat as well as the traffic if they're heading out to the beach for a weekend.
9. Free chair massages. Fifteen minutes in the chair once a week, and employees will return to their desks refreshed and ready to tackle their to-do lists.
10. Optional telecommuting. In an increasingly mobile and digitally connected world, many employees can easily and successfully work from home part- or full-time. Here are some tips on working from home that will make the transition smooth.
11. Tech neutrality. Offer the choice of PCs or Macs so employees can work on the machine with which they're more comfortable.
12. A culture of work/life balance. Create an atmosphere where it really is okay to leave the office before 8 p.m.
13. Perks for part-time employees. Many organizations treat part-time workers like they were temps. Provide part-time workers with perks and they’ll be acting like full-time workers in no time.
14. Cultural extras. Keep the workplace exciting by mixing in rewards like concert tickets, movie outings, or passes to sporting events. Don’t forget to throw some cash your employee’s way to cover the babysitter.
15. Sabbaticals. Offer month-long sabbaticals after five years of service, or two months after 10 years of service.
16. Laundry service. Employ a service to pick up employees' clothes and drop them back at work, clean and folded.
17. Car care. Who has time to take their car in for an oil change? Companies have arranged for a service to come to the office and take care of this messy task while employees are working.
18. Gift matching. The company matches employee's charitable donations, with the match based on what the company can afford.
19. Employee referral programs. Good people know other good people, and the best employees are usually hired through referrals. Those who refer candidates who are hired receive a cash bonus award.
20. Green initiatives. Preferred parking and/or subsidies for those who purchase and drive hybrid vehicles.
21. Paid time off to volunteer. Employees are given a specific amount of time to volunteer in their communities.
22. Cleaning services. Sweep employees off their feet--hire professional cleaners to tidy up employees' homes every two weeks.
23. Tuition assistance. Offer to pay a percentage of tuition owed, per year of employment, for hard-to-fill positions that are appropriate for recent grads.
24. Easier dinnertimes. Take care of the people who matter by enlisting a vendor to deliver ready-to-eat healthy dinners that employees can elect to purchase and take home to their families.
25. Acknowledgment of significant others. When employees do have to work late hours, the people who really pick up the slack are their spouses who are forced to work double duty. Acknowledge their contributions by sending flowers or gift cards, along with a personal note to acknowledge their contribution.
You don’t have to incorporate ALL these perks into your plans. Just a few will do. But what a difference they can make.