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Employee Benefits Do NOT Need to Cost You

Employee Benefits – Think they have to cost you lots of money?

The success of any business depends on the leadership and its staff.

Keeping staff motivated and happy is key, not only to their retention and productivity but the continued success of the business.

Your staff are a long-term investment in your team worth making and benefits help make them feel more valued, but they don’t have to be expensive.

These benefits don’t have to be huge either, but they do have the potential to make your existing staff feel valued and draw in new team members.

Simple things really can make a difference

As a start-up or SME with major ambitions to grow, you may think that you can’t deliver on staff benefits but you’d be quite wrong.

Ensure your workplace is a happier one where your staff are relaxed and comfortable.

By making the workplace a comfortable one, you’ll have a happy team!

With at least 1 in 10 of all new employees leaving because the work-life balance isn’t right, this is one area you can excel in.

Support your career opportunity and salary with a benefits package and you’ll potentially have a more motivated team.

Easy ideas for you to explore and implement

  • Break out areas: create an area for break times where staff can relax or take time away from their desks.
  • This will help keep them fresh and does not need to cost you lots.
  • “Time away from their desk?”, I hear you cry! “But I need them at their desk all the time otherwise I am not getting my money’s worth”…you must be a hard taskmaster!
  • Reality shows teams who take regular breaks (preferably outside for 5 mins or so) actually can enhance your team’s efficiency and productivity.
  • smelly office – yuck: no eating lunch at their desk.
  • have free nice tea and coffee available. And please don’t make it a supermarket own-brand tea and coffee! Cheapskate!
  • These people come to work for you and how lovely would it be if you invested in a lovely coffee machine or at least decent teabags? You’d be surprised at how your team will feel more valued if you provide decent coffee on site.
  • free Friday lunch: once a month, why not have a free Friday sandwich run or free fruit for all? One company I work with downs tools at the same time every Friday for a beer, wine and/or SodaStream catch up (clearly not at 10am but more like 4.30pm, regular as clockwork).
  • leave early Friday: let staff leave early on a Friday, especially on weeks where they’ve all pulled together on a major project; this is an easy, cheap way to show them you care, value and appreciate them.
  • another day’s holiday: give them their birthday off. Do this as a matter of course. Yes, in addition to their normal holidays. It shows you value them and their work/life balance. Companies who ensure staff use all their holidays tend to have a happier workforce. Happier companies make for more profitable companies too.

Simple, easy strategies can really go a long way to building a happy, committed, productive and valued team.

Create loyalty

Take steps to create a working environment where your staff feel valued and secure, and in return, they’ll give you loyalty and commitment.

It’s estimated that two-thirds of employees remain with their current employer because of the benefits (however, they won’t stay if they don’t feel consistently valued).

Regardless of how many people you employ, perhaps you can offer;

  • Birthday off as an extra day’s holiday: as part of their offer when they join your company, give them their Birthday off (as an additional day off, not as a compulsory part of their holiday allocation).
  • Extra day per year: add an extra holiday day to each year of employment, or indeed, if someone is joining you and they get 22 days holiday elsewhere, perhaps you can match it instead of paying them slightly more on their salary to compensate.
  • Flexi-hours: if the business can support it, actively encourage flexible hours or finish early on a Friday. Not everyone is a morning person or they would love to do the school drop off. If your business can allow for this and customers/clients won’t be at a disadvantage, it’s worth operating flexi-hours.
  • Just because society says we work the normal 9-5 (although has crept to 8-6 for many), does not mean you have to follow this norm.
  • Set your own rules, hire people who want flexi-hours and you open up a massive talent pool who will more easily feel valued and therefore more likely to stay with you for a longer period of time, knowing they cannot work flexibly elsewhere.
  • Afternoon off or free lunch or even a box of chocolates: make sure you reward staff who do regular unpaid hours with an afternoon off in return, or a free lunch, or even a card and a box of chocolates. You could pay them over time, but you’d need to find the budget for that. (NB. Also, explore why they’re doing more work after hours and at weekends. Are they struggling to get the work done, and if so, why? Do you need to hire an additional person to support them or are they in need of some training in time management skills?)
  • Reward awesome customer service: create a culture of great customer service; reward outstanding customer service with flowers, a bottle of vino, a spa or hotel voucher or a meal at their favourite restaurant.
  • We are kidding ourselves if we don’t approach our companies like customer service entities.
  • Without customers, we don’t have a business. So everyone in the business is vital to customer service. If you see someone doing something awesome for your customers, saying thanks goes a long way.

Other benefits your company could benefit from

  • Bike it: consider the cycle to work scheme helping promote a healthy lifestyle; this has a low cost to the business but a big impact for the employee.
  • Healthcare plans: healthcare plans or medical cashback programs (not to be mistaken with private healthcare plans).
  • It’s proven those companies with private health or healthcare cash plans for their staff have lower incidents of long term staff sickness. If you’re an SME, paying for your team’s healthcare plan may feel like yet another cost you could do without.
  • Let’s take Shane, your top sales consultant. He needs counselling, breaks his leg or needs glasses or some dental work, or all of the above. You’ll thank the fact you covered this for him for just a £5.25 up to £33 per employee per month. A health cash plan policy with Westfield Health can help if you have an employed team of five or more (including you!).
  • Training budget set each year: look at supporting their training for career progression. Udemy and other similar sites can provide training in Excel, Google Sheets, WordPress, Python/C++, sales leads, MailChimp and so much more for about £10.
  • Parking: can you offer Car Parking Season Tickets if your office is notoriously difficult to park near? Salary sacrifice ensures you get the money back from your staff member so it’s cost neutral and allows them to make a significant saving on their commute to work.
  • Keep fit: anyone for pumping iron or a pilates class? Provide your team with a gym membership, and if they use it, you should have a healthier bunch of employees. For those of your team who love the gym already, you buy the membership (usually at a ‘corporate rate’) which means it’s cheaper for your staff member. They then have the payment deducted each month from their gross salary, which saves them some NI too!
  • Buy or sell holiday: allow your staff to ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ extra holiday; if they want to sacrifice some salary to take an extended trip or ensure they have time to host the in-laws when they visit, this can help you too.
  • Life Cover: only costs in the region of 1% of your payroll.
  • Retail and travel savings: Companies such as Perkbox can help you offer your staff more benefits such as free cinema tickets too.

Review, but avoid, reducing benefits

Provide a good benefits package.

It doesn’t have to cost you lots. And you should see a positive impact on the duration of people’s tenure with you.

Keep it sensible and sustainable, let your benefits package grow with the business.

Knowing your team

Just as you need to understand your ideal customer avatar or client to maximise opportunities, get to know your team. Understanding what motivates them and this will reap its own rewards.

Knowing what motivates your team means you can provide them with the benefits relevant to them.

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