A good job with good pay can attract good employees, but you want great employees. Drawing great employees requires great incentives. Sometimes, even awesome companies simply can’t afford to provide the types of pay to compete for the top workers. But money isn’t everything. There are short-term investments you can make in the form of extras, perks, and benefits that will draw and retain talent that would otherwise be above your budget’s potential.
Consider luring top talent with these perks.
For parents of young children, there is virtually no incentive – including higher salary – more important and tantalizing than on-site daycare. When a woman gives birth and her maternity leave runs out, it’s up to her to piece together a patchwork of personal days, sick days, and vacation days to squeeze out a little more time off. When that runs out, she’s on her own. For a new father, time off for a new baby is rare and brief. That means that shortly after having a new baby, recent parents have to look for daycare for their little one during work hours. This doesn’t end until the child starts school and, if schedules conflict, for many years to come during after-school hours.
Daycare is financially and emotionally exhausting. Leaving a small child with strangers can be an extraordinary stress for new parents, and with the average daycare center charging $972 per month, it can cripple a household budget. Having an on-site daycare center can remove an untold amount of stress from a new parent who simply has to work. This perk is rare and can draw a great employee to a good job and keep him or her there for a long time.
Flextime – allowing employees great latitude in choosing their own schedules – is a perk that is hard to turn down, even for employees who were looking for a better salary or title. Hard-and-fast scheduling can be a nightmare for virtually everyone, and it can drain the energy and stamina out of many employees. Some people simply aren’t morning (or night) people. Some people have to take their kid to dance class on Thursdays. Some people religiously watch their football team on Sunday. Some people are actually religious and want to go to church on Sunday.
A take-it-or-leave-it schedule – the backbone of the classic American work concept called “9 to 5” – by definition simply can’t please everyone. Newspapers have deadlines and bars have happy hours, but the many businesses who can offer flextime, should. It makes for happier employees who are working when they’re at their physical and mental peak, without the stress of wishing they were somewhere else. More importantly, it shows them that you consider them an individual and that you care about their unique life and needs.
Wellness programs are brilliant incentives for a number of reasons. First of all, things like gym memberships, stop-smoking assistance, and weight-loss programs make for healthier employees, which are generally happier, more energetic employees.
Second, this short-term expenditure can lead to a long-term gain. Many companies charge premiums to employees who smoke or are obese because they’re so much more expensive to insure. Health insurance premiums are often predicated – at least in part – by the health and habits of the person buying the policy.
Another financial incentive: The New York Times reports that with new healthcare rules starting in 2014, employers may spend up to 30 percent – instead of the previous 20 percent – of premiums on employee wellness programs.
Third, it’s a perk, a lure that can bring great employees to a good job and another telltale sign of a modern employer who values his or her workers.
Cash or Day Off
Incentivize workers with either an extra day off for superior performance, or the cash they would have earned had they worked an extra day. Again, this shows your employees that you value their individuality. Everyone values money and free time, but different people value them differently. For a busy parent who can never find enough time, a free day off may be just the thing they need to keep their sanity. For others, a little extra cash could make the ends meet when they otherwise wouldn’t have (in this economy, some extra cash is always a good thing—many of your employees are likely trying to get home or car loans with bad credit, and some extra money to pay off the bills helps).
By telling prospective employees that hard work will be recognized and rewarded, they’ll understand that their service will be appreciated – something so many workers never experience.
A dry-cleaning service can pick up your employees’ dirty clothes and drop off their clean clothes, often for no delivery charge and for lower rates than individuals would pay. By providing this service, you take yet another hassle and expense out of the daily lives of your busy workers, you give them something for free at little expense to yourself, and, again, let them know you care enough about them to give them what you can. Suppressing the hassles of daily life helps your employees, and runs to the dry cleaner are a hassle.
Good employees don’t come free, but they don’t have to be out of reach either due to salary constraints. Awesome benefits that are offered by very few employers are within reach for many small businesses. Be creative and make it personal. Employees are hungry for recognition of hard work and value. Feeling appreciated is a benefit in and of itself. Looking out for your employees’ individuality is a rare trait held by few employers. Some programs, like flextime, cost you nothing but improve their lives in unmeasurable ways. By looking out for your workers, you’re looking out for your business.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Manjunatha Narasimhaiah