Are you a small business owner or manager looking for affordable ideas on how to attract and retain employees? Look no further! We’ve rounded up the top 9 employee perks every small business can afford. Here they are:
1. Condensed work week
While not every organization can sustain this, a condensed work week is one of the most powerful perks you can offer your employees. For instance, one of our clients, the David Suzuki Foundation, offers a 4-day work week to their employees to foster better work-life balance. Catherine Gordon, the foundation’s Director of HR, says that offering staff a 4-day work week allows them to spend more time doing things they love outside of work including volunteering, spending time with their family, and more. When employees have more time in their personal lives, they are generally happier and more productive at work.
If you’re able to provide a condensed work week (let’s say you work Monday to Thursday), take it a step further and give your employees even more flexibility by allowing them to swap days off. For instance, Catherine says that if a team member’s child has a soccer game on a Tuesday, they can take the Tuesday off and work the Friday instead. Offering this kind of flexibility is quite unique and something that any employee would love to have.
Related reading: The Myth of the Four-Day Work Week
2. Paid birthdays off
One of the simplest workplace perks we’ve found that employees truly appreciate is paid birthdays off. As one Rise employee says, “I love not having to work on my birthday. It’s such a rare thing for companies to offer, but it really shouldn’t be. Every year, I take my birthday off to treat myself to a relaxing day of doing whatever I want to do — whether that’s going for a run around the seawall or just hanging out with my dog and binging on my favourite Netflix shows. The next day, I’m back at work, rested and happy.” To learn more about the perks and benefits we offer our employees, explore our Careers page.
3. Free food
While it can get expensive if you’re offering everyone a complete meal at lunchtime, you can provide healthy snacks and beverages to your staff. Consider fresh fruit, nuts, and crackers along with coffee and tea — these items are a huge hit in our office and are much appreciated by the team.
Another great way to please employees with complementary food is by taking them out once a month for lunch. Alternatively, you can order takeout or a catered meal for everyone (if you’re in Vancouver, try our client, Savoury Chef!). Whatever you choose, your employees are sure to appreciate it — and they’ll see that you appreciate them.
4. Dog-friendly office
As we’ve mentioned before, we love dogs! And several studies have shown that having dogs in the office can boost employee morale, reduce stress and improve overall productivity. So, why not allow your team to bring their furry friends to work? For more information on how to create a dog-friendly office, check out our blog post, “7 Reasons Why Allowing Dogs in the Office is a No Brainer”.
5. Flexible schedules
Did you know that, according to this Thrive Global article, 87% of working adults say that “having a flexible job would lower their stress and 97% say a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life”? The future of work is flexible. In other words, if you want to attract and retain top talent, you should offer some kind of flexibility in employee work schedules, be it by allowing employees to work from home or allowing them to work outside of the standard nine-to-five hours.
The article outlines that “remote work and other flexible work options are clearly growing in popularity and use. And while a telecommuting program may benefit a company’s bottom line through improved productivity, better recruitment and retention, more sustainable business practices, and reduced operating costs, it’s often overlooked that working flexibility can hugely impact a person’s mental well-being.”
Keep in mind that offering your team flexible work schedules can be challenging in terms of keeping track of employee time worked and time off. For example, if you don’t have an easy way to keep a record of your employees’ schedules, you run the risk of mistaking an employee who’s working from home or swapping days off, with taking a vacation or sick day — making payroll a nightmare. To ensure you keep things organized and accurate, look for HR software that offers time off tracking and payroll integration. For instance, Rise offers HR, benefits, and payroll in one platform. Having HR, time off, benefits and payroll synced in one system eliminates the need to use multiple spreadsheets and allows managers to stay on top of employee schedules as they can see all employee data at a glance, in one place.
6. Event tickets & gift cards
Who doesn’t love receiving gift cards and free event tickets? One employee perk you could be offering is a monthly rotating gift card giveaway to a local spa or restaurant. If you’re interested in this form of employee recognition and appreciation, we love Guusto, a Canadian-founded employee recognition platform that partners with hundreds of restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses so that companies like yours can easily and quickly send employees gifts.
Another great option for employee gifting is to sign up for season’s tickets to local sports team games (think NHL or CFL), live theatre, or a comedy club. Providing this kind of perk will show employees you value them, which will help drive engagement.
7. Professional development
Whether you are offering to reimburse employees for conferences they wish to attend or courses they want to take, offering them the opportunity to develop themselves in a professional capacity is a win-win for both your business and team member.
While your startup may not be able to afford to send an employee to a conference in another city, there are plenty of things you can do to empower your employees to develop themselves professionally that won’t put a hole in your wallet, including:
- Setting your employee up with a mentor — mentors could be your colleagues, college friends, LinkedIn connections and even people from other departments or ranks within your organization
- Granting paid time off for your employee to attend an industry webinar, virtual conference or class
- Buying a Lynda subscription or subscribing to another online learning platform and allowing your employee to use it to upgrade their skills. (Check out this blog post for a complete list of online learning resources.)
- Hosting lunch and learns in which you can have individuals from inside and outside of the company come to your office and speak about different topics that are relevant to your team and/or industry. As the name implies, you host these events over lunch (and you should bring lunch in for the team to encourage attendance).
- Subscribing to Audible or another audiobook platform, allowing employees to download and listen to books they are interested in.
8. Fitness/wellness subsidies
One trending company perk is a fitness and/or wellness subsidy. For instance, Rise offers team members reimbursements for gym passes, yoga class memberships, marathon registrations and more. Providing employees with this kind of subsidy encourages and rewards employee health and wellness –something we believe every company should do.
9. Transportation subsidies
Another employee perk we’re big fans of is offering subsidies for transit passes. This is for a number of reasons — sustainability being the main one — as well as the fact that our office is located in Downtown Vancouver where parking is limited and not inexpensive. To give our employees and the environment a helping hand, we offer reimbursements for public transportation.
Now that you know the 9 Employees Perks Every Small Business Can Afford to Offer you’re in a better position to please your team and show your appreciation for them. Offering company perks like the ones above will help foster employee morale and overall engagement — and we all know that keeping employees happy is good for business.
- How to Recognize Staff When You Don’t Have Any Money
- 7 Habits for Highly Effective Hiring
- Why Your Small Business Should Be Using HR Software