Atypical employee benefits that cost little but reap big rewards…like an engaged and loyal workforce
While it might not be feasible to install a vegan food bar in the lobby or purchase a private company jet, don’t lose heart. Small business doesn’t have to mean small perks. As many owners, managers and staffers can attest, there are plenty of ways to get creative to offer incentives employees want most.
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Tap Their Interests
For Scott Kuethen, CEO of Amtec, a staffing company based out of Chino Hills, California and an NFIB member, a company’s perks often are reflective of the employee type and the industry it serves. For example, one of Kuethen’s clients, a bike manufacturer, centers its perks around fitness, giving employees 1.5-hour lunch breaks on Fridays for exercise, and gift cards and free equipment for achieving exercise goals.
Another of his clients, an outdoor clothing and gear company, allows employees to "self-police" their working hours in order to take advantage of surfing and other outdoor activities in the area as long as their work gets done. The company also provides free onsite child care, which allows employees even more freedom to get out and explore.
Encourage Their Productivity
And while supporting employees' lifestyles outside of the office, it’s important to ensure strong work habits in the office. Many companies have made the switch to allow pets—most commonly, dogs—in the office, making staffers more calm and comfortable—and maybe even more productive. Based on the findings of a team of researchers at Central Michigan University, the presence of a dog in the office can make people more calm and collaborative. Participants in the study "who had had a dog to slobber and pounce on them ranked their teammates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion, and intimacy than those who had not," according to "Manager’s Best Friend," The Economist.
Other companies offer up seemingly small conveniences, like an onsite massage therapist, dry cleaning services, a community vegetable garden, and coffee and snack bars, that actually go a long way to make life easier for employees in and out of the office.
Reward Their Efforts
Even with those great perks, employees, especially the younger workforce of Gen X and GenY-ers, want more than just a job, says Kuethen. "They actually want to be a part of meaningful work. So in return for an environment that gives them a sense that they are valued for their uniqueness, they pour themselves into their work, they’re more committed and more engaged."
Rewarding that commitment and loyalty is important for retaining staff. Richmond, Virginia-based Snagajob, a staffing company for hourly workers, offers an employee benefits package reflective of that idea. Along with a President’s Club for top sales reps and monthly and quarterly rewards and acknowledgements, Snagajob employees receive a complimentary trip to the Homestead resort with one guest for their five-year anniversary with the company; for 10 years, they get a trip to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, according to Betsy Kersey, PHR, director of people. These rewards and others have paid off, too. "Snagajob reaps a healthy, focused and productive team," says Kersey, "which, therefore, can accomplish what we set out to do as an organization."