It doesn’t matter whether you run a dog walking business, a stationery company, a car dealership, a content creation agency, nail salon, grocery store, wind farm, fishery, graphic design business or an HVAC repair firm, the most valuable asset in every single company are your employees. Period. Fact. The end. They are the people that make your success possible, that keep your enterprise rolling forward, the keep your customers coming back, make one another smile on a Monday morning and ensure your finance controller gives you an optimistic nod every time you pass on another in the hallway, which is exactly why you need to do all you can to keep your employees happy and turnover low.
Now, if you’re like most business leaders, then you’ve probably just muttered the words, “pah, that’s easy - just give ‘em a pay rise.” It’s the mistake so many businesspeople make, each of them failing to realize salaries are more of a threshold than a scorecard for today’s employees. Instead, what you need to accept - and accept fast - is there are a lot of more effective ways to keep your talent super-happy, super-engaged and super productive.
That’s right. Company perks are the unsung hero of office morale. They offer you a huuuuge opportunity to take full advantage of non-monetary benefits that will please almost every employee in your stable. In fact, according to a recent study, almost half of all work-hungry people look at a company’s perks and benefits when it comes to weighing up their next job, even if that’s just having a snack drawer in the communal kitchen.
Of course, the big elephant-shaped question lingering in the corner of the room is: if salaries aren’t the priority anymore, what company perks do matter most to employees?
Well, we’ve been out there doing some research and some digging and the answers might surprise you a tad. Enjoy all the office smiles you get after reading this:
1. Health Insurance Is the Biggie
According to some research done by Glassdoor, 40% of people value health insurance more than a pay raise. 40%. FORTY. This is because health insurance is still expensive and, under Trump, it’s not looking like any affordable answers will pop out of nowhere. Either way, Employee-sponsored coverage is still generally much less expensive than public or private insurance. But that’s not the only thing that matters. There is also a peace of mind that comes with knowing that you - and maybe your loved ones too - are covered if anything happens, should that be an accident or an illness, and that’s what makes it such a sought-after perk.
2. Take A Vacation on Us
While money has long been celebrated as the most crucial commodity in the world, we’re starting to realize that is total BS and that the real diamond is our time. Time is that most precious of gifts because, to put it bluntly, you only have a certain amount of it. You can always make more money, but you can never make more time. Now combine that fact with the new knowledge that experiences make people far happier than material possessions and it’s no wonder employees are craving paid time offer, far more so than a pay rise. In fact, this has been such an amazing contributor to employee morale that some major companies have to take it to the extreme, running four day weeks in the summer and offering unlimited vacation days. Now, we know this might sound counterintuitive, but Netflix has become one of the biggest companies on the planet and it has worked for them. Why? Because it attracts top talent to their offices and it keeps people at the top of the game as a result. People know they need to perform well in order to be rewarded at this level, while employees tend to return refreshed, energized, and bursting with creative ideas.
3. Set Them Up for Life Afterwards
As we’ve already mentioned, peace of mind is one of the most important things in the eyes of the employee. After all, the memories of the 2007/8 economic meltdown are still bouncing around in the minds of a lot of people. But that’s only half of the worry. For most people, the world of personal finance and financial planning is more complicated than a Christopher Nolan thriller, which is why they appreciate it when an employer helps them plan for the future. Yes. We are, of course, referring to 401(K)s and other retirement plans, which will give them exactly the sort of peace of mind they are after in a wholly automatic way. Perfect. You’ll also give them a chance to match your contribution, which helps them practice self-discipline and keeps morale super high.
4. Bend Over Backwards Kind of Flexible
Flexibility has become one of the most sought-after perks in the corporate world. It’s this idea of having some sort of control over your life and not being told where to be and when, which is a surefire way of crushing someone’s happiness. It’s part of the criteria for modern employees because people are balancing more and more things, both professionally and personally, whether that be education, family, care or more. So, at the very least, flexible working hours should be offered, especially to parents. However, you should really try and do more by investing in the right software and people to make working remotely possible. Not only will this keep people engaged with your company, it will make them more productive too, while you will be able to widen the net of your talent search, utilizing better-skilled people for less. It’s a win in every direction.
5. Help Them Become Better People
The days of lifetime employment are more or less gone with the business world moving toward a model where the growth of both the employee and employer is the focus. This implies the tenure of the average employee is probably only going to be about three, four or five years, and that the company is responsible for the employee's growth during that time, both personally and professionally. In short: you need to help your employees develop, a perk that they will cherish more than a pay rise. It could be that you send them on development workshops, pay for evening courses, help them gain their CPR recertification, invest in digital learning, having a mentoring scheme or any number of things. You need to identify what goals they want to achieve, what things they want to better themselves at, and a pathway for achieving them. That’s what most employees are craving more than anything else.
6. Make Your Office Great Again
Forget work-life balance. That’s a total myth or, at best, a total misconception. It can’t work because no one leaves work when they leave work. The internet and enhanced connectedness have made that impossible. Instead, you need to try and achieve work-life integration. That means having a corporate culture that encourages your employees to be their true selves at work. There’s no point in asking them to pretend they have two separate personas, a “professional” them and a “real” them because that is flawed. To achieve this, it is essential you create an enjoyable place for them to be. You need to create an office full of perks because, when people spend the majority of their time in an office, it would be pretty cool if that office was, you know, a place they actually want to be. It could be having a fruit bowl in the reception area, free (healthy) snacks in the kitchen, a chill-out lounge, a ping-pong table and an open-plan layout. Not only will this make Monday mornings feel fantastic, it will foster a sense of loyalty and strengthen the bond between you and your employees, and that is invaluable when it comes to reducing employee turnover.
7. Wellness Programs Are On The Up
One of the most desired perks among millennial employees is an on-site gym or wellness facility, or even one that’s nearby, and the reason for this is simple. Your employees are probably putting in solid eight to ten-hour days, five days a week sat at their desks in what is a truly demanding and high-stress environment. Each day is leaving them physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, and understandably so. So, while they might well have a gym membership, their long days and long commute makes it so very hard to work out in the morning, and you can forget the evenings because, by the time they get back home, they’re so tired they just want to pop a meal in the microwave and watch endless amounts of Netflix. This isn’t good for their health and it’s not good for your business because their productivity levels will be dwindling. That’s why you need to find a nearby gym that you can partner up with or, better yet, offer on-site fitness classes, like yoga, Pilates, and strength training, as well as having under the desk exercise machine.
That’s how to make your employees smile without giving them a pay rise.
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