How to attract top talent: employee benefits on a budget

When trying to attract the very best employees to your startup or small business, it can sometimes feel difficult to compete with larger organisations in terms of the employee benefits you can offer.

Where bigger companies may be able to offer perks such as health insurance, dental care coverage, or trips abroad on the company’s dime, you might feel inadequate in comparison.

But there are plenty of attractive benefits that you can offer your employees that would be equally inviting on a scale that is realistic for you, and these could be tailored to precisely the type of talent you are aiming to attract.

How to choose employee benefits

Once you have a clear idea in mind of the kind of person you are trying to hire, ask yourself what sort of benefits they, as well as your current employees, would value. What are the aspects of the job that are important to them, and what added bonuses would they appreciate that would fit in with their lifestyles and interests?

After establishing this, as well as your rough budgets for these benefits, you can begin to consider, in more detail, the types of perks you may offer. We have outlined a few ideas, by category, below that could start you off with some budget incentive ideas.

Food and drink benefits

Simply providing a steady flow of snacks and hot drinks is a basic but well-appreciated perk for your employees. It shows them that you will meet their needs, even at just this primary level. Having a fridge in the office that is stocked with tasty food, or a top-notch coffee machine for perfect brews, can go a long way in showing that you value your employees.

Whether you choose to provide regular snacks every day, or can only afford to indulge in nice treats at company meetings, putting this effort in now and again may just make the difference to your team’s outlook and motivation.

Negotiating discounts with other local businesses is another great option and can be a real pull for a potential employee. If they can get 20% off their gym membership, or half price coffee on Thursdays at a nearby coffee shop, these benefits can be worth just as much to them as perks that cost a lot of money to set up.

Flexible working hours and holiday incentives

Perhaps you are able to offer flexible working structures to suit your employees. More and more companies are offering their employees the chance to work from home one day a week, for example. Is your business adaptable in this way? If it would cause no inconvenience to the working day, perhaps you could offer this to your employees, opening up opportunities in your company to working parents, for example. After all, as long as the deadlines are met, and to a good standard, does it really matter whether the work gets done at 9 am or 6 pm?

You may be in a position to offer extended holiday breaks, such as over the Christmas period, particularly if you’re in an industry that is significantly quieter between Christmas and New Year. This can really make a difference to employees, and employees who feel cared for will, ultimately, also care for the company.

For longer-term staff-members, perhaps you could offer the opportunity of a sabbatical. You could, for example, offer a month’s leave after four years of employment, or three months when someone has been with you for seven years. This kind of long-term thinking could allow employees to fulfil their dreams, such as extensive travel plans, for example, without having to risk leaving their job permanently to do so.

Upskilling and socialising

Another thing that can really attract — and retain — employees to your company are the opportunities for training and growth. If you are unable to host training events yourself, you could consider partnering with another company or attending industry conferences and events. This gives your employees the opportunity to up their skills and knowledge and keep them competitive in the industry, which is only beneficial to your company.

You could also treat your staff to social events, such as work meals or drinks, every now and again. These can be great for staff morale and the convivial atmosphere at such outings can encourage bonding in your team.

Bonuses on a budget

These kinds of employee benefits do not have to cost an awful lot of money, yet the value they bring to a member of staff can really make a difference to how they feel about the company. Make your business stand out from the crowd to attract the best and brightest employees, and give them real motivation to come and work with you.

The perks you offer must, of course, be as beneficial for the company as they are for the members of staff. Bear in mind the benefits of a good company culture and the importance of the attraction — and, just as importantly, the retention — of great employees, and the difference that will make to your bottom line.

How to implement your employee benefit scheme

Some of the benefits you offer could be quite formal, for example, additional holiday days or the ability to work flexible hours; while others will be more casual, such as a fridge full of tasty goodies. Some will take preparation time, — those such as negotiating discounts with local businesses — while others, including organising social gatherings or training events for staff, will require ongoing attention. Whatever perks you plan, you need to take into account whether you have the capacity to manage them, and perhaps identify a particular member of staff who will have ultimate responsibility for delivering them.

You also need to frame your benefits in a way that will attract top talent to your organisation. Look at job descriptions from other companies like yours and see which words and phrases they use to promote the benefits they offer. Highlight your perks in application documents and consider discussing them with candidates at the interview stage.

Benefits are great for existing members of staff but, to also use them to attract new ones, you need to get the word out. If you are offering something especially innovative, consider sending out a press release to relevant publications to see if you can get media coverage. In the meantime, ask your employees — and your dream employees — what they truly want, and see if you can find a way to deliver.

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