Posted in Offering health benefits | by: Elizabeth Robinson

14 Creative (and Affordable) Employee Benefits You Should Start Offering Now

You’re running a lean yet mighty business, and your number one goal is keeping your team pumped. So you probably already know that a comprehensive benefits package plays a major role in attracting and keeping those people who make your business rock. In fact, one out of three millennials have turned down a job offer because they were dissatisfied with the health benefits they were offered.

So how can your small business compete with companies that have over-the-top perks? By getting a little crafty. First, give your team a solid health plan. Then, offer them the following creative, low-cost perks.

Creative employee benefits ideas

1. Flextime

Nearly half of HR experts say employee burnout is responsible for between 20 and 50 percent of their annual workforce turnover. Keep burnout at bay by allowing your team to build the schedule that works best for their lifestyle. That could mean coming in earlier and leaving earlier, or jetting to appointments and then making up the time at home. The key here? Letting your team chart their own course.

Not to mention, when employees feel like you trust them, they do better work. And offering schedule flexibilitye is one of the most powerful ways you can ensure your team is finding the best balance between work and home life.

2. Perks for the people behind your people

Crazy hours can have a big impact on your team—and their families. It takes a village, and acknowledging that contribution will help set your company apart.

For big points, order healthy, ready-made dinners for employees to take home during stressful periods. You can also host a kids’ movie night so parents can drop off their little ones and go on a cheap date night. Think of everything, and include a gift certificate to a local restaurant too.

3. Work from home

Thanks to video conferencing software, working from home is a cinch. Plus, there are a bunch of studies that show remote workers are even more productive than those who stay at the office.

Up your team’s happiness levels by offering them the ability to telecommute. The best part? It doesn’t have to cost a thing, and it could actually save you money by helping you minimize office expenses. You can offer an alternate Friday telecommute option, or even just a couple of work-from-home days a month.

4. Peer recognition

Here’s a clever (and virtually free) way to reward top performers: Have employees recognize each other. It’s a greater motivator than rewards delivered from supervisors, and it will help improve relationships across your team.

So how does it work? Give each employee a gift certificate to a local café or store for them to pass on to a peer they think is acing it. You can also put up a message board in a common area where team members post kudos to each other. Or throw a monthly event (think after-work mixer or catered lunch) where one team honors another team for reaching a big milestone.

5. Perks for parents

Juggling work and family is no easy task. Many companies offer robust parental leave packages for new parents, so going beyond your legal requirements is something to consider as you put together your core package.

There are several small ways you can position yourself as a family-friendly business. Lighten the load with a small meal stipend so new parents can get healthy take-out meals during the intense first months. You can also plan a bring-your-kid-to-work day, which will help families feel more connected to your workplace.

6. Volunteer time off

Support what your employees care about while giving back to local orgs. Consider offering one paid half-day a month where your team can head out of the office early to volunteer for any organization they choose.

You can also reward employees for giving back by letting them exchange their volunteer time for additional PTO. Or add to your philanthropic efforts by giving employees money to donate to the cause of their choice—or by matching their own charitable contributions.

7. Pampering for pets

What lowers office stress better than a mutt curled up under a desk? Offering perks for pet owners is another clever way to make team members happy.

If it works in your space, host a bring-your-pet-to-work day once a month. Get in touch with local pet-setting services to work out discounts, or look into pet insurance—it will thrill owners while costing you just dollars a month.

8. A sweet office setup

No ping-pong tables or elaborate floral displays in your office? Don’t sweat it. What matters most is that your space feels comfortable so people can get their work done. In fact, 59 percent of small business employees say that their office’s work environment is what they respect the most about their employer.

Make your office even more relaxed by offering access to streaming music and headphones. You can do this by paying for people’s Spotify subscriptions and/or installing a couple Sonos speakers.

If you’re a believer in the benefits of midday shut-eye, consider creating a napping area in that unused office nook. A game room, free library, and stand-up desks are other ideas to think about.

9. Health & wellness

Cue the workout videos and pour yourself a shot of wheatgrass. Seventy-three percent of employers now offer programs that focus on wellness.

Luckily, you can also add a little fitness into your workplace without breaking the bank. Get a weekly walking group together to take a lunchtime stroll. Speak with local gyms about a membership discount for your team. Once-a-month, in-office fitness classes are another option. They’re inexpensive to host and are sure to leave your team feeling recharged.

10. Seasonal perks

Fantasy football anyone? Employees can cheer on their favorite teams and enjoy a little friendly competition while they’re at it.

You can keep spirits high during chilly winter months with an in-office luau; make it a potluck to keep overhead low. Or consider summer hours, where everyone has to leave the office a few hours earlier on Fridays to hit the beach, go to a museum, or get a head start on their weekend.

11. Serious skill-building

Who doesn’t want to expand their skill set? Not to mention, investing in your employees’ career development can be a win-win for the both of you.

Host lunch-and-learns or quarterly seminars where experts come in and speak to the team. A tuition assistance program is another perk that appeals to many people, even if you’re only able to provide a small amount. Or consider an annual learning stipend for conferences or classes.

For a very low cost, no-travel option, find webinars your team will benefit from and set aside time for them to attend.

12. Snacks and stuff

Hire a vendor to bring in healthy snacks at wholesale prices. Or if your team is tiny, head on over to your local Costco and stock up on the essentials. It won’t cost a ton, and it will keep everyone nourished when deadlines are tight.

Free coffee is a must-have for many employees, but you can take it to the next level by bringing in a barista to come in and whip up lattes once a month.

Another no-brainer: birthday cake. For a small team, the cost is minimal and the impact is big. You can even have team members take turns baking for each other.

13. Employee discounts

Everybody loves a deal. Touch base with phone companies and local dry cleaners, salons, parking lots, and daycares about potential discounts for your team.

If hunting down discounts sounds overwhelming, you might want to try a perk program like Fond that manages team discounts for you.

14. Freebies

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Branded swag can increase team pride, reward employees, and spread the word about your product or services. Think laptop stickers and backpacks for new hires, and T-shirts for launches and events.

Free, shared Kindles are another fun way to keep your bookworms happy and connect readers around the office.

For one-time freebies, you can reward your team with group movie passes or tickets to a local game.

Getting started

First, put a list together of the perks that you think your team would dig. Then, ask employees about which benefits they’d most like to receive, so you can tailor your offering. A MetLife study revealed that nearly three out of four employees say that having the ability to customize their benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer.

Your benefits package says a lot about you and your office culture: what’s valued, what’s rewarded, and whether you think outside the box. Whatever perks you choose, you’re bound to up morale, create more meaningful relationships, and add to your rep as the coolest company of them all.

About Elizabeth Robinson

Elizabeth is a copywriter with a long history writing for tech and finance. She has an MFA in poetry, a keen eye for misplaced modifiers, and a soft spot for shar-pei mixes like her sidekick, June.