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The Marketing Technologist

8 Employee Perks That Won't Break the Budget

By Melissa Christian on October 11, 2018 |

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examples of employee benefitsIn today's world, employee retention involves much more than the salary your staff makes.


Those searching for their next career are weighing company culture, employee benefits, and company perks just a heavily as the paycheck they would bring home.

Offering perks like box seats to a sporting event or producing big bonuses are awesome -  if you can afford them.  

What about us small and scrappy firms, how do we compete? 

Attracting and retaining great talent can be accomplished by utilizing your company culture and giving your team perks that make their jobs easier and more enjoyable.

These are 8 ideas for employee perks that will delight your team without investing too much of your hard-earned company dollars. 

FLEXIBLE HOURS 

Parenting and family obligations, continuing education, and generally having a life outside of the office can make the standard 9-5 workday a challenge and much less the norm than it once was.

Split shifts and flexible hours are a great benefit, but could also be a necessity for some of the talent you want to attract.  The ability to work flexible hours could be a deal-maker for the candidate who needs to be at the bus stop by 4pm, or wants to pursue college classes offered during the day.  

Flexible hours could mean varying start times, or not setting an official start time to the day. At NR Media Group, our team knows that if there is a meeting scheduled, they are to be in attendance at that time, but otherwise, the start of their day could be anywhere from 7am-10am.  Have an appointment you need to make in the middle of the day?  No prob, as long as you're getting your work done on time and producing good results, you can work the hours you need to accommodate your life.  

Workdays start and end at different times for our team as well. Those who start super early are done in time for after-school pickup, and those who like to get their day started with personal errands can do so in the morning and work later into the evening.

Split shifts are a great way to let your employees knock out a personal task or two in the middle of the day, working most of the shift in the morning and the other portion after their household duties are done at night. Allowing them this kind of flexibility demonstrates that you trust them to be productive while also keeping their balance at home.  

Accountability is a factor here and employees should still know that they are expected to communicate their working hours, and have all assignments done on time.  Good time tracking practices will allow you to keep tabs on when people are getting their work done and be sure they're keeping it honest.  

Remote Working

Remote Working - home office examplesIf you have a team primarily doing it’s work digitally, you may be able to offer a remote working policy.

Eliminating the time investment of commuting, saving money on transportation, and being free of traffic concerns a couple of days per week is a huge bonus, especially for those who live far from the office.

Even those who live close by could benefit from quiet time to focus in their own space away from the hustle of the office.

Concerned about communication and meetings being overlooked? Web conferencing tools like Zoom can bring your team together from any location and allows screen share and chat to keep people engaged. Messaging tools like Slack can keep everyone in the conversation throughout the day via their desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

If accountability is a concern, consider writing a formal policy that lays out the regulations for working from home. Ask that those working from home fill out a calendar visible to the team that shows what they plan to be working on. If you have a daily check-in or sprint meeting, require that everyone share what they plan to work on that day and check on their progress during the next meeting.  

WALKING/OUTDOOR MEETINGS

We know your office is trendy and your team loves to be there, but once in a while it’s nice to get some fresh air and sunshine away from the restraints of the desk. Taking the team outside the office for meetings or group conversations is an excellent way to get the blood and the brain moving. This is also a great addition to your Wellness Program!

If you have a meeting that could be held away from the desk, consider a walking meeting, or meeting at a metro park vs. sitting at the conference table. If the ability to record notes or minutes is needed, a meeting at coffee shop with outdoor seating and wi-fi could be a welcome change of pace.

If you host team lunches, make some of them a walking lunch at a location within 1 mile of the office. The walk to a location so close won’t take up much more time than driving and parking, and you will have done both yourselves and the earth good by walking rather than using cars.

Office Pet Privileges

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 1.10.41 PMBring Your Pet to Work: There are four people on the NR Media Group team, but each and every one of us has at least one pet and most have two. We allow our team to bring their furry friends into the office and not only does it make the pet parent happy, it boosts the moral of our whole team. We look forward the next time we get to see our friends at the office and give them scratches and belly rubs.

Now, we are fortunate enough to have a team without serious allergies to animals, so make sure you’ve confirmed this before you open the door to your employees' pets. This also requires a set of standards, like being responsible for your pet’s bathroom needs, and knowing when it’s time to take Fluffy home for the day if they become a distraction.

Pet Bereavement:  Allowing time for pet bereavement is more a curtesy than a perk, and in many eyes absolutely no different than bereavement of a close family member. If you’re a pet owner, you know that the loss of a family pet can create a kind of grief that doesn’t allow for producing good work.

Giving time off for pet loss benefits the work your company produces as much as it allows your employee the time they need to start healing.

PTO FOR CHARITY

Participating in charitable events is a true passion for some, but finding the hours in their time off may not be a viable option. Giving your employee a half or full day to devote to a charity of their choice shows that you care about their passions and want to help them do good in the community.

There should be requirements around this, such as having the activity approved ahead of time and reporting on the experience. If your company produces content or has a social presence, showing your employees in action is a nice way to showcase your company culture in a blog or social post.

Most employees say that personal develop like this is just as important as building their professional resume and works towards achieving work/life balance.

Office Games 

office bingo chairoffice

If leaving the office for a walking lunch or meeting isn’t in the cards, having in-office games available can be a nice way to appreciate your employees hard work.

Working games into your office offers your employees a break from the screen or a different way to hash out conversations with their co-workers.

A tiny basketball hoop can be put up almost anywhere and can be a fun source of friendly competition amongst staff. Office Bingo can get people riled up in a fun way and actively engaging with one another. 

Having a meeting over a game of ping-pong or darts sounds more fun, and possibly less intimidating than a one-to-one sit down or the boring old water cooler conversation.

Casual Dress Code or Theme Days 

Of course, there will always be times like when meeting a client, that business dress is a must. However, if for the most part your team is just coming to the office and not facing clients, it may be appropriate to allow relaxed dress. 

Our team often comes to the office in sweatshirts, t-shirts, leggings or jeans, and we’re totally ok with that. Not only are we more comfortable than we would be in a button-down shirt and dress pants, but it allows for more self-expression.

While there should be rules around maintaining appropriate coverage and limitations to your version of “relaxed”, if you don’t need everyone in a blazer, why not be a little more casual?

If everyday casual doesn't fit your office atmosphere, having theme days like sports team gear on Fridays or giving away branded shirts to wear every Monday still helps to loosen the collar a little and make getting dressed for work easier.  

Employee Lounge 

couch-953491-editedHow is this different than a lunch or break room? It’s still an escape space for your team, but an employee lounge has more offerings than a fridge, microwave, and some tables.

Comfortable lounge chairs or couches, soft lighting, and plants are an easy way to spruce up your break space. Include some of the office games listed above, or have access to Netflix or Hulu so those on their lunch break can catch up on their fave shows.

The design of your lounge can speak to your culture, especially if you have company awards or original artwork to be displayed.  Have a book shelf with industry focused materials the employees can check out for personal development.

More than a space for your current employees, a lounge space works well for meeting new recruits or holding casual client meetings.

Naturally any free snacks and beverages you can provide are appreciated. An espresso maker or fancy coffee station will keep everyone happily caffeinated throughout their day.


Of course will all of these comes the risk of company time being misused and all of the above should have guidelines and limitations set to your comfort level.  

Finding a way to express your gratitude for your employee's hard work doesn't have to be expensive, it just needs to be creative and align with your culture. See my previous post for even more ways to have fun at work, and share any perks you offer your team that make them smile!

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