Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

7 non-traditional benefits small businesses can offer employees

April 30, 2018
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Employers nationwide are struggling to attract and retain talent. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. employees are going to look for a new job this year, with one of the leading reasons being compensation and benefits, according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management.

It’s clear that talent attraction and retention isn’t just an issue in West Michigan; it’s impacting our entire state. As of March, Michigan’s unemployment rate is around 4.7 percent. While we have been very fortunate to have positive growth in our local economy and a low unemployment rate, it’s challenging for employers to find the people with the right skills for the job and hold on to experienced employees.

Regardless of the size of your business, benefits and perks are a key part of attracting and retaining talented people. In addition to offering traditional benefits like health insurance and vacation time, here are seven nontraditional ways local companies are attracting new workers and making it tougher for a job seeker to take a job elsewhere:

1. Flexible work environment

Today’s workforce is very mobile, and for many employees, they can work anywhere as long as they have access to a device and Wi-Fi. Help employees balance work and life by offering a flexible work schedule that allows for picking up the kids after school, running errands during lunch or visiting the doctor during normal work hours. Whether it’s giving employees flexibility in their work schedule or allowing them to work remotely on Fridays in the summer, these are just a few ways you can meet the needs of your employees’ busy lives.

2. Wellness program

Health and wellness is important to overall employee well-being. Support employee health and wellness by creating a workplace wellness program. This could include hosting onsite fitness classes like yoga, or starting an office running club. You also can provide a stipend for workout classes or purchase gym memberships for employees. Also consider incorporating benefits for mental health, such as creating a space for meditation and reflection in the office.

3. Maternity and paternity leave

Going back to work after having a child can be hard for new moms and dads. Numerous studies also show that time parents spend with their newborn is critical to their child’s health and development. Offering adequate time off for parents after their newborn’s arrival can help attract and keep talented employees. And don’t forget about making it easy for parents to get back to work. Think about converting that underutilized office into a room for new moms who may want a private space.

4. Team outings

The time your employees spend together out of the office is important to building bonds and strengthening your team. Whether it’s establishing a fun committee that plans after-work events, offering pizza parties on Fridays or planning team retreats, team outings have been found to boost employee engagement while giving employees time to unwind and relax together.

5. Continued education opportunities

Professional development, training and continued education all are ways businesses can grow their employees’ skills. Consider giving your employees access to local leadership programs like the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Grand Rapids program or offering a stipend for continued learning at a local college or university. Investing in your employees’ skills and professional experience shows you prioritize their development and it will show returns.

6. Transportation

If your company doesn’t have available parking or doesn’t cover employee parking, consider making it easy for employees to bike, walk or use alternative transportation. For example, encourage employees to ride the bus by giving them a stipend for a monthly bus pass. If your employees bike to work during the summer, consider setting up a bike rack inside of your building or a covered, secure space outside. There’s nothing worse than riding home on a wet seat after a long day at work.

7. Be dog-friendly

Do several of your employees have furry friends? If it makes sense for your business, consider creating a pet-friendly policy for your employees. This could be something like welcoming dogs into the office on Fridays or even letting employees go home during the work day to check on their pets.

Keeping employees engaged and happy at work doesn’t have to be costly. Offering meaningful benefits helps attract and retain talented people. To learn more about unique, non-traditional benefits you can offer employees, join us for our Measure What Matters Workshop, Affording Retention: Building Healthier Teams, at Str!ve on Wednesday, May 9. 

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