Today's top job candidates want a lot more than just must-haves like paid vacation and healthcare plans without high co-pays. As the economy gets more stable and startups are being taken more seriously, employers are getting creative with the benefits they offer--and candidates are loving it. The good news for employers is that not all of these benefits are going to bankrupt you. In fact, some benefits are actually a win-win for employees and employers alike.
If you're gearing up for a major recruitment effort or simply want to entice your current employees to stick around, it's worth taking a walk on the benefit wild side. However, before implementation, work with your HR team or a consultant to make sure a new benefit is a viable option for the long-haul. Before making any promises to your employees, test out the new benefit as long as your employees know it's temporary. Have the details in writing and make sure everyone is on the same page with the test window.
Now it's time to get busy. Here are some of the most innovative benefits that employees love:
1.) Telecommuting Options
There are many ways to offer a virtual environment. You can allow employees to work from home full-time or part-time. You can even have employees pick their own hours as long as they reach their goals and get their work done. Telecommuting works for a variety of jobs, but not necessarily for every one of them. It takes a special kind of employee to thrive in this environment. Motivation issues sometimes arise. However, when it works, it means businesses can stay small if they want, employees are happier, and you're conserving resources while lightening your carbon footprint (less commuting).
2.) On-Site Childcare
One of the biggest perks of working for many large companies is that employees have free childcare while they're on the clock. If many of your employees have children and are constantly switching up their schedule or not giving 100 percent because of family commitments, it might be worth considering offering on-site childcare. The base pay for babysitters might be better for you financially than getting the trickle down effect of stressed out parents watching the clock or coming in late.
3.) Gym Access
Focusing on helping your employees stay healthy is becoming increasingly important to employers. Healthier employees are simply happier and have fewer sick days. If your business is within walking distance to a gym, try working out a deal with the owner or manager for low-cost packages that you cover. Complement it by encouraging employees to use their breaks (or before/after work) to hit the gym, and you're giving them a reason to up their health.
4. Open Floor Plans & Comfy Rec Areas
Very few people want to work in a cubicle farm, and in many industries open floor plans encourage spontaneous brainstorming sessions as well as camaraderie. Of course, some of your workers may require quiet time to work, so provide spaces for those employees, too. Pepper in comfortable rec areas with couches and fluffy chairs instead of cafeteria tables crammed under fluorescent lights and your workers will feel more at home, happier, and ultimately more productive.
5. Flex Schedules
Is it absolutely mandatory that all your employees clock in at 8am? Sometimes it is, but most of the time employers can be a little more flexible. Letting employees choose their own hours within reason, and putting a schedule in writing, shows you respect their time, and they'll return the favor.
"Benefits" doesn't have a strict definition. Much of what makes for a positive workplace involves a manager's overall approach to employees. Many employees will find that they enjoy or even love a job if their boss doesn't micromanage them much and trusts them to get their work done. Shake it up, let go of the reigns and you'll be surprised by the results.