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Employee Benefits that Your Small Business can Afford

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Small businesses often cannot compete with the salaries or benefits that larger companies or state employers can offer. But they can gain a lot of ground by offering benefits that make working in their small company just as attractive or even more attractive than working in a large company. To attract and retain the talented people you need and develop a reputation for a great place to work, there are perks that your small business can afford.

Empathy and support

Sometimes employees need a time-out at very short notice. Or they come to work angry about things that happen in their private lives. Small business owners and other employees can make a positive difference in the lives of employees who have problems, sometimes just by listening and sometimes by active support. And this sense of "family" can really bind employees to your company.

Flexible work

For many employees, this is the most attractive benefit that any company can offer, as flexible working gives them more of the work-life balance they need. And as a small company you may be able to offer the most flexible work arrangements of all.

In addition to customized work schedules for employees, such as four-day weeks or the ability to leave early every day to pick up children at the daycare center, you may also be able to offer home-based or remote working.

Appeal to the team

It is one thing to have a job. It's something else entirely, as Gene Marks describes it, to be a member of a team trying to change the world against the evil Goliaths. The feeling of doing something important that could change the world as a whole is a strong motivation for many people, and if your small business is able to provide that, it's a big step forward in the talent competition.

Training and development

Talented people are often ambitious and want to acquire the new skills that will advance their careers. If your small business cannot provide in-house training and development programs, you can still provide the training your employees want by reimbursing all or part of the cost of attending appropriate courses or workshops elsewhere.

Find Out More... Training and Development

Time for volunteer work

Volunteer work is often rewarded, and many people want to do it, but because of the work they do, they cannot integrate as much of it into their lives as they would like. Therefore, giving employees x hours per week or month of volunteer time can be a highly valued benefit - and creating happier employees while helping your community is definitely a win-win situation.

Pet friendly facilities

Everyone seems to have a pet now, and provided that no one working in your small business has a pet allergy or health regulations prohibit it, many employees would like to bring their pet companion to work. If you don't want to make this a general policy, you could make a weekday "bring your pet to work" day (provided your pet is sufficiently well trained not to cause any disturbance at work!)

Clothing for casual work

Large organizations often have a casual Friday. But as a small company you could offer the opportunity to dress casually 365 days a year! Managers in particular would appreciate the chance to get away from the formal clothes. Susan Heathfield offers a Business Casual Dress Code that you might want to introduce.

Transit passes

Is your small business in a place where employees can commute to you by bus, train or subway? If so, transit passes can be a highly valued (and cost-effective) benefit.

Food and drink

According to a survey by Peapod, 83% of the office workers questioned said that it was a great advantage if the employer provided fresh food and healthy snacks. Healthy snacks are ideal for employees to leave their desks to take a quick bite to eat and recharge their batteries. Some of the best snacks for the office are among them:

  • Bananas
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Apples
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit

Many people love coffee specialties, so consider buying a decent quality coffee maker that can also make cappuccinos, lattes, etc.

Let employees decide on lunch once a month or on special occasions and bring pizzas, Chinese food or whatever wins the vote.

Fitness opportunities

Employees of all age groups like to keep fit. You don't have your own fitness center or swimming pool? Then offer your employees instead a membership in the local fitness center or pay the costs of individual fitness courses for them. Many small companies have also been very successful with their own teams. Softball? bowling? Find out what your employees would like to play, put together a team and let the fun begin.

Creative, individually tailored benefits

Often the most appreciated perks are not the most obvious or expensive. Instead, it is the perks that show that management appreciates an employee as a person.

Mary Cantando's experience as a manager is inspiring. She spent time thinking about her employees and each month she selected employees for whom she wanted to do something personal this month. Usually this "something personal" was something as simple as taking an employee to lunch or buying someone tickets to a game. But the results were amazing.

"In a highly competitive industry, I haven't lost a single A player in over four years because I had a system for looking after [the employees] that went beyond the usual reward program for employees," says Cantando.

The importance of rewards

Most experts agree that benefits as a whole play an important role in the relationship between employees and companies, especially in times of recession. "Benefits keep people attached to a company," says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based global outplacement firm. "If an employee likes his boss and the work is challenging, and if the company has a set of perks that are tailored to that person's needs, then it's hard for the employee to leave the company. It may be that he or she is 'not' able to repeat this situation in another organization. A recession as a benefit? What companies offer and what employees want (Wharton University of Pennsylvania).

This is the situation you want your employees to be in - and increasing your benefits can help you achieve this.

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