9 competitive benefits for small businesses

Rae Roache

We’ve all heard the stories. The mega corporation that gives its team full access to the company yacht. The tech startup with a pilates studio and daily sushi bar. The international bank that spends more on their holiday party than most businesses do on salaries for the entire month. While your business may not be able to offer weekly champagne-fueled yacht rides just yet, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own cost-conscious perks that will make your employees feel like a million bucks.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, benefits and perks are among the top things job seekers considered when deciding on a new a job, with 55 percent saying benefits can be more important than salary. We’ve compiled a list of modern benefits that will make any team feel happier, healthier and more engaged. Remember, a happy employee is a lasting employee.

Wellness stipend. There’s nothing more important than the mental and physical well-being of your employees. Consider giving full-time staff a wellness stipend each year that they can use on any health-centric activity. From gym memberships to healthy cooking classes or towards the purchase a new home treadmill, wellness stipends are a fun, fresh way to positively impact the overall health of your workforce.

Game and meditation rooms. Stressed employees of software giant Adobe can get their zen on in the company’s basic (yet blissful) meditation room. Equipped with yoga mats and natural decor, the room also offers Project Breathe, a 15 minute meditation session led by an Adobe manager. Maybe your staff needs a little excitement? Game rooms also provide a break from the daily grind and help employees to head back to their desk revitalized and ready to work. Game rooms can also promote cross-team interactions, breeding better collaboration. 

Flex time. Giving employees more flexibility with their work schedules can help everyone achieve a better work-life balance. Whether it means driving their spouse to work or picking up children from daycare, this perk costs nothing but could mean the world to a busy employee. It’s also found that flex hours result in higher levels of job satisfaction, productivity and retention

Corporate discounts. The secret’s out: big group discounts for products and services aren’t just for large corporations anymore. Companies like PerkSpot, Fond and Corporate Perks can help small businesses provide discounts on everything from gym memberships to travel services.

Casual dress code. In a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, the ability to wear jeans to work ranked among the top five most-wanted perks. Allowing employees to wear jeans or casual attire can have numerous benefits. Not only can it boost morale, but some believe it increases creativity and productivity among employees as well.

Free food. Providing office snacks (or lunch) can be a huge competitive advantage when it comes to attracting talent. Not only did catered lunches rank among the top three most-wanted office perks in that same CareerBuilder study, but research has linked offering free healthy food options with higher levels of happiness, productivity and retention. So go ahead and stock the break room with healthy snacks (think fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, yogurt) and keep your employees focused and energized.

Pet-friendly perks. Making your office more pet-friendly costs next to nothing but could reap huge rewards in terms of higher productivity and retention. Not only does allowing furry friends in the office relieve employees of the stress (and financial burden) of finding a pet sitter, but having animals around can also decrease stress levels among all employees - and it’s just darn cute.

Unlimited vacation. Offering unlimited vacation time to employees comes with less risk than you may think. More and more companies are offering this option as a way to retain top employees and attract in-demand talent. Not only are employees responsible with their time, but they tend to work harder before and after their absence. Another bonus? Trusting employees with this freedom promoted feelings of loyalty and can boost morale.

Volunteering days off. More companies are supporting employees’ philanthropic efforts by providing paid time off to volunteer. Others organize company-wide volunteer days, which is almost as good for your business as it is for the community. Being socially responsible is also an attractive feature for millennial workers who want to make a difference.

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