Creative benefits differentiate your organization’s culture and keep staff smiling
If you want to attract and keep good staff, you need to think beyond just salaries and traditional benefits. Being innovative with benefits and perks can showcase your organization as a great place to work and give you a competitive edge in attracting and keeping great employees.
Here are eight creative benefit ideas—many of which can be implemented at little or no cost.
- Flex Time—With burnout contributing to about half of workforce turnover, giving your staff a say in scheduling can go a long way in helping to improve morale and keep staff energized and engaged. Consider allowing people to work nontraditional shifts (e.g., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) to avoid traffic, or scheduling working moms for shifts that allow them to be home when their kids return from school. Create ways to give people the time off they find meaningful, such as allowing them to work eight days on and four days off, or allowing them to work longer shifts for 10 days straight to earn an extra day off. This may take a little juggling, and it will require good scheduling software and policies. However, the results can be significant in advancing employee satisfaction. Offering flexible work hours shows employees that you trust and value them, and it enables them to have a work/life balance that reduces the chances of burnout.
- Personal Perks—Consider benefits that show your employees you care about them and appreciate the sacrifices they make. Among the options: healthy meals provided to staff during especially stressful times such as surveys or extreme weather; hosting a kids’ movie or activity night where staff can drop off their children and enjoy a date night; family fun events with games and entertainment; or pet-friendly days where staff can bring in their well-behaved dogs or cats.
- Sponsored Education—Offering to pay for professional credentialing or certification can be a powerful employment perk, especially among the direct-care staff. According to Business News Daily, offering avenues toward greater education not only shows employees that the organization values them, it also increases employee competence and confidence. Additionally, it increases your organization’s competitiveness and reputation; reduces risks within your organization; and expands your organization’s network and access to best practices, trends, tools and resources. How much financial support you provide will depend on the organization’s size and resources. According to Emerson Galfo, CFO of C-Suite Services, “If the company ‘requires’ [certification] for the job (and candidates), then they should be responsible for the ‘upkeep’ of the certification.”
- Engaged Learning—Highly trained team members tend to be more confident and committed. In addition to regular in-service programs, seek opportunities to bring in experts to discuss topics relevant to staff interests. Encourage staff to participate in free webinars and online activities such as TED Talks. While it may not be feasible to pay employees’ attendance at national conferences, there may be opportunities for scholarships or discounts to make this possible.
- Peer-to-Peer Appreciation—Have a dedicated box or email address where staff can share stories about colleagues who have gone above and beyond their roles and responsibilities (i.e., helping to identify why Mrs. Jones is acting out, recognizing that Mr. Smith is depressed because he misses his dog, mentoring a colleague or offering to substitute for a colleague with a family emergency). Recognize these individuals in publications and meetings or on social media and offer gifts cards and other small prizes.
- Employee Support—Minimum-wage and other low-salaried staff might face challenges making ends meet. Consider ways to help, such as commuter assistance programs; food pantries (where staff can take staples and dry goods when they need them and replace them when they can); holiday shopping for kids (with donated items); family holiday parties with prizes and giveaways; free financial counseling; and access to free or discounted scrubs and other work clothing.
- Health and Wellness—According to the 2016 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey, nearly three-quarters of employers offer some type of wellness program. Health insurers also are jumping on this trend, offering members rate discounts for progress on wellness programs. Encourage programs such as lunchtime walking clubs, employee-taught yoga or meditation or healthy snacks in the breakroom. You also can consider partnering with local fitness centers for special membership rates or discounts on classes.
- Discounts and Freebies—Look for partnership opportunities that will enable you to offer employee discounts on dry cleaning, daycare, dog walking, hair care and other services. If you don’t have the time or resources to pursue discounts on your own, programs such as Fond will manage staff discounts for you. As for freebies, consider inexpensive items such as keychains, t-shirts, stickers, tote bags and other items that display the company logo. Initiate a donation program for items such as sporting event/concert tickets, restaurant gift cards or babysitting services for monthly drawings and encourage executives to participate.
Need more ideas? Meet informally with staff and ask them what other perks and benefits would be most appealing to them. You will get some interesting and creative proposals, and your employees will know that the HR team values their insights and input.