8 Creative Employee Benefit Ideas


Tracy Givens

Mar 26, 2022


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Human Resources

In a tight labor market, it's essential for small business owners to offer creative employee benefits to help them stand out from the rest. Health insurance and paid time off are standard, but what else might you provide to keep your employees engaged and focused?

This guide is designed to help you retain the staff members you have—and, with any luck, recruit new hires as well.

Why It's Important

Happy Employees

Employee benefits are appealing to prospective hires, but they can also keep your existing talent at the top of their game.

Happy employees are more likely to produce at high levels for several reasons. First of all, if they feel fulfilled in their work, they're able to remain motivated. Secondly, they're eager for the opportunity to give their all to the company that provides them with so much in return. Perhaps most importantly, they're able to focus on their work without worrying about how to pay for medical checkups, childcare, and other essentials.

For many workers, a sweet benefits package is more important than a high salary. While dollar signs are undeniably appealing, up to 50 percent of workers say that they would be willing to leave their current job if they were to find one that offered better benefits.

Ask yourself if your business would be able to survive if half of your employees walked out tomorrow. If the answer is no, it's in your best interests to provide a solid benefits package for your current and future employees.

Employee Benefits Ideas

1. Bring Your Dog To Work Day

Dog at the office

More than half of the US population are proud dog owners. With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that many people would appreciate the opportunity to take their dogs to work.

There are some companies that allow employees to bring their dogs to work with them every day of the week. While this may not work for your particular business, you might consider designating one Fido-friendly day per week. Even allowing the practice on one day per month can do wonders for boosting employee morale.

Depending on the nature of your business, it might not be practical to allow people to bring their dogs to the job site. In these cases, you might be able to offer similar benefits by implementing a hybrid-remote strategy, if you haven't already. For more details on this, see the Offer Reduced Hours-segment below.

2. On-Site Massages

As employers become increasingly aware of the toll stress can take on overworked employees, they're coming up with more creative employee benefits like this one. A relaxing massage is a great way to decompress after a busy workday—and it's even more relaxing if the employee doesn't have to leave the job site to take advantage of the perk.

Those of you who don't have the space or the means to offer on-site massage therapy can consider other options, like free or reduced-rate gym memberships for full-time workers. You could also offer gift certificates to a local spa as a monthly incentive bonus, or encourage workers to take a long walk at least once per day to help them recharge.

3. Breakfast Bar Options

Healthy Oatmeal

This is a budget-friendly option that should appeal to workers of all ages. Try setting up a daily breakfast buffet consisting of healthy options such as granola, yogurt, fruit juice, and breakfast bars. If space allows, you might even set up a toast station with bagels and English muffins, with a creative toppings bar.

If you're looking for other ideas on how to make a staff room more inviting, consider adding special touches like a cribbage board, a foosball table, or small television. Depending on how much room you have at your facility, you could even set up a designated napping room.

4. Employee Development Funds

Investing in employee development is a great way to boost morale, but it also benefits the company directly. The more skilled workers you have on hand, the more competitive your business will be.

To begin, try instating development funds for eligible employees. You can do this by offering tuition reimbursement for related classes, or just by allowing workers to use set-aside funds to attend conferences or to purchase books.

On a related note, some business owners find that having an on-site library encourages workers to hone their business skills even when they're off the clock. Stock your library with informative reads that will keep employees engaged and interested in their positions. Of course, it's a good idea to maintain a section that's designated purely for entertainment as well.

5. Reduced Hours

The typical 9-to-5 grind is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Offering reduced hours will give employees the time they need to recharge, giving them stronger focus and an increase in productivity when they do return to the workplace.

For some companies, this means offering employees the option of working a half-day on Fridays, calling it quits at lunchtime. There are some tech start-ups that take this conceit a step further, making three-day weekends a standard benefit for all workers.

Implementing a remote-work option is another strategy for attracting and retaining employees. Depending on your business model, you might be able to allow employees to work from home for one day per week—or perhaps more. There are even businesses that encourage their staff members to take a working sabbatical of sorts, relocating to another corner of the globe for up to one month per year.

Speaking of sabbaticals, some companies offer extended paid leave to their employees after a certain amount of time—say, 10 to 15 years of dedicated service. There may also be an option to take the same break every 5 years thereafter. These sabbaticals can vary in length, but 4 to 6 weeks is standard.

Essentially, your goal is to create an environment in which employees don't have to live in fear of taking a sick day. It's just as important for workers to remain relaxed and refreshed when they're well. In fact, they're more likely to remain healthy if they're given enough time off work to recharge.

6. Team Building

Team building - coworkers playing tumbling wooden blocks

Team building exercises are an excellent way to build rapport amongst your workers. The trouble is, not all employees are eager to give up their time off to hang around with the people they see at the office every day.

You can offset this issue by encouraging midday breaks. If there's a gym or fitness studio nearby that offers classes at a convenient time, offer these services to any employees who'd like to take advantage of them. In addition to preventing burnout, it will bring your workers closer together.

You might also think about setting aside blocks of time for employees to socialize without talking shop. Schedule a 30-minute break once or twice per week for scheduled socialization. When you recast the workplace as a diverting environment, your employees will actually look forward to coming in.

After-hours experiences are another way to promote team building. Set up regular activities like bowling sessions, wine tastings, or paint nights. It doesn't have to be the same thing every time—you can adjust the schedule depending on the overall response.

7. Family Perks

The expense and difficulty involved with finding quality childcare are one of the main reasons why so many people are slow to return to the workplace after the birth of a child. The problem affects women to a disproportionate degree, but it's an issue for workers of both genders.

Even if your company already offers maternity leave, consider adding a paternity leave policy to ease the transition for new fathers. You should also have a designated area for nursing mothers to either breastfeed or pump milk during breaks.

If you really want to stand out, an onsite daycare facility will greatly improve the work-life balance for employees with children. This perk can also benefit your bottom line, as it will help to prevent tardiness and absenteeism in workers who have difficulty finding decent childcare.

8. Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition Reimbursement Application

In some industries, it's possible for the company to succeed without hiring individuals who hold college degrees. For most, however, having an educated workforce can be a real asset. After all, skilled employees can bring more to the table, and they're bound to have more prospects than their unskilled counterparts.

You can make your company more appealing to prospective employees by offering tuition reimbursement programs. For example, Starbucks employees who attend Arizona State University's online program are eligible for full tuition when they receive a bachelor's degree. This type of perk will encourage workers to stay in school—and to remain with the company once they've received their diploma.

The Bottom Line

Will your company be able to implement all of the employee benefits ideas we've listed above? Probably not. However, adopting even two or three of them will go a long way.

We would also advise using your own business model as an example. If you're a retail facility, for example, you might be able to offer discounted or free merchandise to your top performers. Tech startups, meanwhile, could provide computer education to those who are willing and eager to learn more.

For more creative ways to improve your sales, marketing, and operations, our blog has hundreds of articles written specifically for small businesses. You can also get weekly tips delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our small business newsletter. For more information on e marketing for small business, schedule a 15-minute discovery call today.

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