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Standard benefits are no longer effective recruiting tools. Your top prospects already assume that their benefits package will include healthcare, paid vacation time and sick leave. But mention that you’ll let them adjust their schedules to pick up their kids from soccer practice or join a gym on the company dime—now you really have their attention.
To attract and retain outstanding employees, more and more small businesses are looking beyond the basics and offering creative and unexpected perks.
Employees will love it if you help them stretch their paychecks by easing some of their out-of-pocket expenses. Shopping discounts, subsidized gym memberships, tuition reimbursement and employee-matched savings are just a few possibilities.
But why not start by offering free or discounted access to the products or services your company already provides its customers? There’s an added benefit to this tactic: employees who have access to and experience with their company’s offerings can provide better sales and support to customers.
Programs that encourage workers to be more physically active, control their weight and manage stress are especially popular among employers, according to Employee Benefit News.
Corporate employers surveyed by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health said they expect to spend an average of $594 per employee on wellness incentives in 2014, up 15 percent from an average of $521 per employee in 2013.
That’s a sizable gain, but the biggest increase in wellness incentives comes from smaller businesses. Those with fewer than 5,000 employees expect to spend an average of $595 per employee on wellness programs in 2014, an increase of $151 from 2013. All told, about 95 percent of the employers surveyed plan to offer some type of health improvement program.
A MetLife study found that professionals whose employer makes work-life balance easier are 79 percent more satisfied with their jobs, 73 percent more loyal to their company and 72 percent less likely to be distracted at work by stress and personal issues.
Mobile technology is helping employees maintain more flexible schedules without costing employers lost productivity. Companies like Texas-based web development firm Smooth Fusion are providing employees with laptops, smartphones and access to a virtual private network so they can work from home. In the summer, Smooth Fusion staffers can take off early on Fridays to spend more time with their families. This is a simple but effective perk, especially for professionals with children.
The National Federation Of Independent Business provides a brainstorming list for creative perks that includes ideas like club membership dues, free festival and theater tickets, providing travel for spouses on company business trips, and bonus vacation time. LoadSpring Solutions, Inc., an enterprise software company in Wilmington, Massachusetts, is so bullish on the benefits of travel that it gives employees incentives to travel abroad. After two years with the company, employees can receive up to $6,000 and an extra week off if they vacation outside the U.S. The company says that it wants to encourage staff to experience other cultures.
According to LoadSpring’s website, “The way we look at it, [international travel] is the best way to experience new places, people and perspectives. And if it helps us attract and keep top talent and adventurous thinkers, so be it.”
Imaginative perks like these signal to star recruits that your company is a fun and caring place to work. The payoff for you might just be a more engaged and productive workforce—and a healthier bottom line.
Sonya Stinson is a writer for print and web publications, businesses and nonprofit organizations. She writes about higher education, careers, small business, retirement and personal finance.
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