Suzanne Lucas

5 Cost-Effective Employee Benefits to Complement Your Health Plan

A strong benefits package is one of the most effective ways to bring in talent and keep your best employees where you want them — that is, at your business, helping your bottom line. Some benefits are more attractive than others, of course. Almost 90 percent of job applicants say they would consider accepting a lower salary for better health benefits.

But creating a compelling benefits package doesn’t stop there. Whether you’re able to provide robust insurance or you’re only budgeted for a basic plan, a whole slew of simple cost-effective employee benefits can help take your offerings to the next level. Here are five ideas to get you started.

Food

Free food makes people happy. You don’t need to cater a fancy breakfast every day to make a difference in your employees’ moods. Having a Monday lunch, for instance, can start everyone’s week off with a bang. Keep snacks that people like in the break room.

Be strategic about which food options you give employees. Considerations like how much you spend on the food will probably be top of mind, but also consider employee preferences and how nutritious the food is. Catering a healthy meal once a week could breed better eating habits overall in your employees.

Flexibility

Today’s employee expects flexibility, so be prepared to offer this perk. Can your business still run effectively if employees set their own schedules, as long as they remain available for core hours? In this scenario, you might lay down a ground rule that everyone needs to be in the office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for instance, but beyond that employees can start work at 6 a.m. and go home at 2 p.m. or come in at 10 a.m. and go home at 6 p.m. with no penalty.

This perk could be a gold mine for parents with young children or employees who have unpredictable schedules. A flexible workday can also benefit employees’ health, making it easier to go to a doctor’s appointment in the morning or leave early for an afternoon run before it gets dark outside.

Remember, assuming your office can manage flexible schedules, this is a perk that could cost your business little to no money.

Part-Time Professional Work

At first glance, this might not seem like a perk. But consider how many employees leave their jobs to take care of small children. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of having to search for and onboard a new employee, which can get pricy, they could just pass on a few responsibilities and stay with the company part-time? Or enter a job-sharing arrangement with a coworker?

There are a lot of part-time retail jobs, but not so many part-time accounting jobs. If you have employees with responsibilities at home but who would love to maintain their professional skill sets, allowing them the opportunity to avoid gaps in their work experience could be a huge bonus.

This option is often perfect for newer companies that don’t have a budget or business large enough to provide full-time work. As the business grows over time and employees’ children get older, employees can take on more hours — all without wasting time on extensive training and onboarding.

Community Discounts

You don’t have to look far from your front door to find creative employee benefits. You can support your workforce and local businesses at the same time by giving employees financial incentives to look within the community for their needs — small businesses nearby may be willing to offer discounts to fellow small businesses such as yours. Start with ways to improve your employees’ health, stress levels and productivity, like giving your staff discounted memberships to a local gym. Heading to the gym could be a great way to reach goals your employees set in your company’s workplace wellness program, so making gym membership accessible could boost engagement in the program.

That said, perks are only good if your employees actually want to use them, so include your workers in the decision-making process. A little out-of-the-box thinking could result in partnerships with dry cleaners, maid services, restaurants, bowling alleys and any other type of small business. Often the local Chamber of Commerce has already worked these discount programs out, so consider joining. This can also bring discounts for business expenses as well.

Casual Dress

Presumably, you’re hiring adults, and as such, they shouldn’t need too much help in figuring out what is and what is not appropriate for the office.

Sure, if you’re all lawyers, clients might have the expectation that you wear suits to meetings, but depending on your town’s culture, they may assume you’ll be in business casual attire instead. If certain employees never come face to face with clients and customers and only ever see their colleagues, then flip-flops in the summer might be perfectly fine. People don’t like restrictions, and most can figure out how to dress. Let everyone be an adult.

So take some time to consider which kinds of cost-effective employee benefits could both satisfy your staff and add to your bottom line. Just don’t forget that people like to like where they work, and the little things add up.

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