As your business seeks to attract and retain the best people, don’t overlook the appeal of employee perks and amenities. Recent research found that 57% of job seekers listed perks among their top considerations for taking a new job.
“Amenities can be a game changer for small businesses looking to keep highly engaged employees who love their jobs,” says Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart:HR, a Baltimore-based HR consulting and outsourcing company for small businesses. Be creative, he advises: “If employees get hungry, offer snacks. If they have difficulty juggling work-life balance, offer dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off.”
What employee perks might work best in your business? Here are four affordable, scalable ideas to consider.
- Offer flexible scheduling. This is the most attractive amenity you can bring to your workplace, according to Christina May, CMO and owner of Illumine8 Marketing & PR in Frederick, Maryland. “As a business owner, I encourage employees to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work,” May says. “Doctor appointments or family obligations happen. The team understands that with advance notice, they don’t need to take a vacation day to pay attention to these other commitments in their lives.”
- Help make commutes easier. Depending on your location, a parking pass or mass transit stipend may be valuable to your employees. Alternatively, you might offer cash rewards for biking or ridesharing to work. “The great thing about amenities is that they scale much better than pay increases across the board,” says Price. “Giving 10 employees a $100-a-month parking pass can be more sustainable than giving 10 employees a 15% bonus.”
- Provide the right light. Sunshine can be a great perk, because access to natural light can affect mood, energy levels and alertness. Studies show employees working near sunlit windows are 15% more productive than those working under artificial light.
Opening up your office to natural light can be as simple as rearranging workspaces to expose more direct sightlines to windows and relocating light-blocking furniture, cabinets or cubicle walls. If this isn’t practical for your space, try to avoid the negative effects of fluorescent lights, which have been linked to migraines, eyestrain and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Swap them out for softer LED bulbs or blue-enriched light bulbs, or bring in fluorescent light diffusers, which cover a tube to spread the light more evenly and reduce glare.
- Allow employees to tune in. Encourage employees to stay connected with current events—and each other—by installing a television with a range of cable channel options (such as that offered by Spectrum Business TV) in a common area. Allowing employees to gather around breaking news or other programming can help them put events into perspective or have a good laugh together.
Take March Madness, for example. Studies show employees spend up to six hours of work time engaging in March Madness-related activities each year, but evidence suggests that employers’ best bet may be to allow employees this flexibility. A major sporting event can become a bonding experience rather than a private preoccupation.
Then, promote your perks. “Many businesses offer amenities but don’t market them well,” says Price. “[Companies] usually roll out a list of benefits in bulleted form with no real context. Find meaningful ways to communicate the value of each perk offered. For example, if you offer a parking amenity, create a poster that says, ‘Mornings can be stressful, finding parking shouldn’t be.’ That puts the gain squarely in the perspective of the employee, and it shows that the company cares about your peace of mind.”
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