Even Small Companies Can Offer Perks That Build Engagement and Attract Talent

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May 8, 2017

While many things in talent acquisition are changing, we’re seeing changes to core HR and talent management as well. One of the areas where this is most apparent is in the area of benefits or perks.

Read about unique perks like house cleaning, manipedi allowances and event ticket.

The nap pods, pool tables, dry cleaning on site, rock wall climbing — you name it, today’s employees either have it or are about to! It’s not just the Silicon Valley companies that have these benefits, it’s pretty much all companies. From small insurance agencies on the corner to hair salons to large corporations, everyone is getting in on the benefits game. compiled some statistics on benefits and perks:

  • The most popular health care plan offered is a preferred provider organization (PPO).
  • 75% of employers offer fitness programs like gym memberships, weight-loss programs, etc.
  • 72% of employees want 401(k) matching.
  • 27% of employees feel that paid training and tuition reimbursement are very important to their overall job satisfaction.

While a good health plan is most desired – and these days it’s pretty much table stakes – flexibility is a highly desired benefit, and one of the perks a jobseeker might accept in exchange for taking a lower salary. Companies are responding with benefits like work from home days, flex-scheduling, unlimited paid time off, free day care, bring your dog to work, and wellness programs.

Why are companies hustling to offer these very non-traditional benefits? Here are the top 3 reasons:

1. War for talent

It’s not easy competing for talent and the war is ever present for those in talent acquisition and talent management. Things like trapeze lessons, in-office massages and week-long stays in a company owned cabin are experiences that even a higher salary just can’t match. Glassdoor learned from recent research 57% of people reported benefits and perks (were) among their top considerations before accepting a job.

2. Experiences win

In a culture bombarded with entertainment and in a workforce that is increasingly flexing its work-life muscle it makes a world of sense that experiences that make the work day more pleasurable would be valued. People remember experiences over company swag like notepads, or the proverbial gold watch. An iCIMS survey found that about one-in-five workers would leave their current job for one offering non-traditional benefits. That is especially true of millennial employees where 23% said they’d take another job offering  more interesting benefits.

3. Engagement and culture

People want to work for an employer of choice. As companies grow and scale, it’s imperative to make the people who helped them do that happy and building a primo culture is one great way. SHRM found that the three top drivers of job satisfaction were respectful treatment, compensation, and benefits.  CareerBuilder found having good benefits was why 49% of respondents stayed at their jobs.

Only the largest companies can provide a full menu of traditional and others like onsite gyms and chef prepared meals. But there are some inexpensive and simple benefits even small companies can provide that will help in attracting quality candidates and retain workers:

Offer work flexibility — Unless you’re in manufacturing or security detail, it’s really hard to find a job that cannot telecommute these days. In fact, most companies can provide this. Try it for just one day a week to give your people a little more control over their time. Sound risky? Start with one team or department and do a beta test. There’s research showing remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts and other research showing long commute times negatively impact retention. So you might also consider offering a flex-schedule to get your workers out of rush hour.

Offer a day of pampering. Everyone deserves a day off and some teams more than others. It costs just a few hundred dollars to hire a masseuse to give chair massages to your overworked staff, but they’ll brag about it to their friends forever.

Sponsor continuing education. It doesn’t all have to be focused on traditional schooling. Consider paying for a lesson, class or professional enrichment course that would take your staff to new heights. Millennials especially value training; a Deloitte study found 71% of millennial workers unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

Commit to social responsibility.  Many of your employees already are volunteering their time, whether through their church, coaching youth sports, or in other programs. Providing them time off to participate would have a big impact both for them and for your employee brand. Alternatively, you could organize a philanthropic program your employees could participate in, perhaps a volunteer day at a food bank. Workers today want to know their employer is not just profit driven, but is also socially responsible.

Questions to ask before embarking on a new benefit strategy:

What kind of perks will my employees enjoy? Survey your workforce. If you worry they may ask for perks too costly to provide, then start by informally speaking with them or your managers..

What can I afford to offer in terms of benefits? Plan for 150% of the cost, and be sure to take into account any planned staff growth. You don’t want to offer a benefit only to have to lose it a few months later because you didn’t anticipate the cost.

Does this benefit make sense for my workplace? Allowing workers to bring their dog to work may be a real plus for some, but is it practical for your environment. Day care services are a tremendous benefit to working parents, but will it cause resentment among those workers without children?

Does this benefit scale? The benefits you offer today and can easily manage and track may become a nightmare tomorrow. So set up your systems of record now so you can ensure things are covered.

Short of budget? Here’s what Jim Belosic, CEO of tech company ShortStack, had to say:

“For companies like ours, this means having a healthy mix of perks we decide are worth paying for and perks that cost absolutely nothing but make people very happy. We have an open-dog policy — a few employees bring their dogs to work every day, some only on “woof Wednesday” — hosted Friday lunches, paid time off for volunteer work, the option to work from home, and so on. I’ve heard of companies that offer a monthly movie day, mobile car washing, financial planning seminars, and many more creative ways to give employees a little extra.

If you don’t have the money to offer pricey perks, come up with other options. A couple of extra days off during the years when your profits aren’t in a place where you can award bonuses or a dinner invitation when you can’t buy catered lunch every day will go a long way. And those things are all relatively cheap!”

You have the ability to offer great benefits to your employees, so get started!