With the economy gaining strength, top-tier employees often have their pick of positions, so how can small businesses compete with larger companies when it comes to attracting and retaining the best workers? The answer lies in effectively communicating ways you are a desirable employer, such as highlighting your culture of inclusion, your strong mission statement or your genuine employee focus. Highly-regarded employers of choice favor the well-being of their employees and clients, which in turn, draws talented people.
It’s a good idea, no matter what the size of your business, to offer as many standard benefits as you can afford – for example, some type of health plan, 401K and paid time off. To sweeten the compensation package, though, develop creative options that make you more attractive than your larger competitors. We strongly recommend considering the following ideas that could challenge, empower and reward your employees through benefits and perks that extend beyond a hefty paycheck:
Keep it Flexible
A popular benefit you can offer potential employees is the opportunity to balance work and personal time more effectively. While traditional offices expect five-day work weeks (clock in at 8 a.m., clock out at 5 p.m.), you can evaluate different ways to accommodate your employees’ needs while getting the work done.
- Offer four-day work weeks.
- Give employees flex-time, meaning they choose the schedule that fits their home life best.
- Offer job sharing opportunities.
- Provide telecommuting options, even if it’s for one or two days per week
Offer Growth Opportunities
Employees value training opportunities that allow for personal and professional development. A survey of college seniors found that when weighing job offers, they first considered opportunities for personal growth before job security and pay. Developing your employees will not only enhance their skills and increase satisfaction, it will maximize the quality and productivity of your overall workforce. Have a robust employee development program in place and make sure everyone knows about it. Here are some ideas:
- Offer to pay for training classes or professional certifications related to their field.
- Reimburse tuition, in full or in part, for academic degrees, even if they are not directly related to the employee’s position.
- Create a mentoring program.
- Task employees with assignments and responsibilities that draw on their new skills or areas of study.
Showing employees both privately and publicly that you value them and their contributions to your company is a powerful way to express appreciation to your workforce, gain loyalty and boost morale. Recognition programs and awards can be a low-cost, high-impact element of the total compensation package.
- Make it standard practice to look for and call attention to your employees’ outstanding or innovative ideas and behavior.
- Create a simple system in which employees are nominated for their extra effort or customer service by your customers or their coworkers.
- If an employee’s idea or suggestion is used and it benefits your company, pay a special bonus or “thank you” reward. Have a standard amount noted in the policy so it’s fair and equitable for everyone.
- Other tangible rewards can be anything from a day off with pay, a gift card or bonus or a special personal treat such as a car detail.
- Offer tickets to sports, music or cultural events.
- Provide a donation in an employee’s name to the charity of his or her choice.
For more ways to show your employees you value them, check out this big list from Inc.
Share the Wealth
While money isn’t everything, offering bonuses or profit sharing programs can motivate your employees to help build your company and to feel a part of its growth. Profit sharing can be based on the profitability of the overall business or by specific profit centers.
Super Great Perks
Explore ways you can provide those extra-special benefits that aren’t available at every employer. Not all of these options will work for everyone, but keep an open mind and consider offering the following:
- Make your office pet-friendly; if every day is not possible, maybe try one day per week.
- Offer a complimentary breakfast bar or other relatively low-cost food perks.
- Promote a discounted group rate for a nearby child care facility, or better yet, offer childcare on-site if possible.
- Provide complimentary transit passes and subsidize parking to help offset your employees’ costs.
- Provide a game room or lounge for employees to take breaks and decompress.
For more ideas, visit Forbes’ list of perks to get more ideas that can be tweaked to fit your budget.
Do you have innovative ways to attract and retain quality employees for your business? Share them in the comments below.