If your small business is cash-strapped, then you’re not alone. Most startups and small businesses, particularly those in the service industry, are burning the candle at both ends and doing more with less as they work to differentiate themselves from larger competitors.
But, even though you can’t justify exotic employee retreats or luxury boxes at the local sports arena, you need to provide something of value in addition to base compensation. Small business benefits need not be elaborate or expensive, but can go a long way toward recruiting and retaining top talent.
These relatively low-cost benefits will help attract new hires and complement your compensation packages, helping you to retain the talent you worked so hard to recruit. An added benefit: these relatively affordable perks will help differentiate your new employer brand.
Flexible Work Options
While many small businesses require a physical presence or set hours, flexible arrangements (if applicable) are attractive to job-seekers looking for a better work-life balance. Perks such as flexible work schedules and telecommuting options are highly-valued small business benefits that won’t cost you much, if anything.
In fact, letting your employees work remotely is one of the best low-cost employee benefits you can offer, and may even save your company money on office expenses. Also, in terms of employee productivity and savings, telecommuting eliminates the commute to work and its associated costs, such as gas, parking and wear and tear on the vehicle. An extra bonus for employers is the ability to hire candidates from a much wider geographical region.
Voluntary Small Business Benefits
A startup benefits package doesn’t have to come out of your own pocket. It can include benefits that employees can elect to pay for themselves, such as life, disability income, critical illness, and accident insurance policies. Depending on the number of employees you have, you can negotiate better rates and better underwriting than an individual could obtain on their own, with the convenience of payroll deductions.
After salary, healthcare benefits are perhaps the most important part of the compensation package for employees. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with more than 50 full-time workers can provide healthcare benefits at a much lower cost than they could before passage of the bill. This will allow you to focus on less-pricey yet still valuable perks that make your company more attractive.
Another popular voluntary benefit is the flexible savings account (or FSA), which allows your employees to set aside pre-tax income for copayments, deductibles, and other non-covered health care costs. The main advantage of FSAs is the ability avoid taxes when covering these types of expenses.
Discounts, Gifts, and Food
You may be able to negotiate deals with department stores, health clubs, and restaurants for discounts. Another option is to approach other small businesses, such as restaurants and other retail operations, about special deals or coupons for your employees. In addition, you could, for example, cover the cost of attending a sports event for the “employee of the month” and their family as part of an employee recognition program.
Many entrepreneurs and managers have also discovered that food is a fantastic small business benefit. This can be as simple as keeping healthy snacks (and occasional bags of bite-sized candy bars) on hand for employees to catering lunches in the office. Some companies provide bagels, fresh fruit, and other goodies on Fridays for breakfast.
As an added benefit for employers, people tend to work longer hours because their internal clocks don’t tell them to go home to dinner. Supplying food and snacks also leads to more interdepartmental collaboration and relationship building. You might also complement any provided food and beverages with a comfortable lounge or gathering place, which helps encourage teamwork.
In-office snacks also are a good recruiting tool, especially when you’re looking to impress a candidate. When a candidate coming into your place of business is offered a beverage (other than the standard coffee or water) and a snack, they’ll associate these gestures with a nurturing environment.
Fitness and Wellness Options
With all the food you’ll be providing your employees, you’ll also want to offer them some healthy workplace wellness options. Some workplaces offer exercise equipment, dedicated rooms for yoga or meditation, or the freedom to go for walks or play one-on-one basketball during the workday. Exercising together can help keep your team stay upbeat and focused, while giving them the stamina they need to endure longer shifts.
Exercise also helps employees reach their own wellness goals and can help build collaboration through friendly wellness challenges. Those are the type of small business benefits that can be a win-win for employers and employees alike.
Mentoring and Skills Training
Most workers don’t stay with the same employer for more than five or so years, but they do value career support in the form of skills training (or “upskilling“) and mentoring opportunities. This could be as simple as partnering new recruits with more-seasoned employees (who themselves may seek the opportunity to become mentors) or curating free or low-cost online training materials to help them reach their broader professional goals.
You could also invest in in-house training sessions or an online upskilling platform for your staff, from which they could choose courses suitable to their position and career trajectory. Also, they may be more likely to stick around a little longer if they know you care about their professional development.
Make Sure Your Small Business Benefits and Recruiting Efforts Help You Succeed
If you’re looking to recruit ideal candidates to your startup, and ultimately keep them working toward a singular goal, perks and benefits are a great investment. Recruiting and hiring the best people is a full-time job, but Monster can help. Sign up to receive expert tips on the latest hiring trends, effective benefits, and more, directly to your inbox.