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Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Small Business Tips | 0 comments

10 Unconventional Employee Benefits for your Small Business

10 Unconventional Employee Benefits for your Small Business

One of the easiest ways to prevent high turnover rates in your small business is by offering enticing employee benefits to your startup team.

In a digital age where billionaire CEOs are in their 20s and everyone’s video has the chance of going viral, old school benefits are no longer cutting it. You can’t attract and keep top talent with run of the mill vacation days and 401(k) contributions.

Savvy SMBs are building stellar startup teams by offering unconventional employee benefits that are fresh, fun and accurately represent the overall brand of the company.

The benefits you offer are not only an extension of your company’s brand, but an indication that each and every employee is treated with respect and recognized for their individuality. It is this recognition, more than the benefits themselves, that will keep your team strong for years to come.

The right kind of employee benefits have the ability to create a positive work/life balance for your employees. Being able to take care of errands, doctor’s appointments, exercise, pet care, daycare, and even a visit to the spa – maybe even without leaving the office – will create an environment where employees can thrive both personally and professionally.

Everyone knows how expensive it is to hire and train new employees. Save money and ensure your current employees stick with you for the long haul by offering some of these unconventional employee benefits.

1. Work from home

Does this sound familiar? You walk into the office, sit down at your desk, and after a few morning pleasantries with your co-workers, proceed to dive deep into the digital cave of your computer.

You may very well not come up for air until lunchtime, and most of your correspondence with other people in the office is via email.

Do you really need to physically be there?

More and more startups are cutting costs by scrapping an office rental and allowing their employees to work from home. Doing this gives employees an incredible amount of freedom, which improves their quality of life and in turn, their job performance. Being able to live wherever you want, take your work on the road, attend meetings in your PJs and skip the morning commute all adds up to one happy remote workforce.

As a small business owner, allowing your employees to work from home opens you up to a global marketplace filled with talent. As long as she’s reliable, meets deadlines and exceeds your expectations, does it really matter if your graphic designer lives in Sicily?

You also may be able to take advantage of beneficial exchange rates by outsourcing jobs to contractors from different countries. Everyone is going global – why limit your talent search to a 30-mile radius?

Don’t worry about remote workers “slacking off” or being unavailable when you need them. Set specific ground rules indicating deadlines and specific work hours. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if your work-from-home contractor is a self-starter capable of self-management and motivation.

And if they’re not? No worries! Give them the option to come into the office instead, or search for a stronger work-from-home candidate.

2. 100% Scheduling Flexibility

Giving your employees the power to create their own schedules boosts productivity and company morale. Some people may find that working part time from home and part time at the office fits in with their lifestyle. Others may find working nights and weekends to be beneficial.

By letting your employees choose what works best for them, you’re ensuring that when they are at work, they’re focused, motivated and inspired. Who wants to work with a decidedly non-morning person at 8a.m. anyway? Let Bill from accounting mosey in around 11a.m. and watch his efficiency skyrocket.

As long as work is being completed accurately and deadlines are being met, it really doesn’t matter when the magic happens.

3. Pet Sick Days and Pet-Friendly Offices

What would Google do? Well for starters, they’d let their employees bring their dogs to work whenever they want. London company The Courier Service recently introduced a new “pet-ernity” policy where employees get paid sick days in the event of a pet illness or the loss of a pet.

madamThink of it this way – people’s pets make them happy, and happy employees get more work done. Employees that don’t constantly have to leave the office to let the dog out will also be more efficient throughout the workday. So invest in a few plastic water bowls and open your office doors to the Productivity Pooch Patrol. Here at Shoeboxed, I bring my Maltese pup Madam to the office almost every day, and I can personally certify that having her here makes my days easier and less stressful. Having a dog in the office is an instant mood booster, and taking her for a short walk a couple times a day is a great way to spend a ten minute mental break.

4. Unlimited Vacation Days

One of our favorite employee benefits deals with company vacation policies. Netflix gives its employees unlimited paid vacation days. Everyone comes and goes as they please, and no one even keeps track of how many days they’ve been out of the office!

The reasoning behind this employee benefit is simple: by treating your employees with respect, you will get respect in return. Netflix VP Steve Swasey insists that “if you hire adults who practice adult behaviors, you don’t need requirements like dress codes and vacation policies.”

Employees are trusted to get their work done in whatever time they feel they need to do it. It’s their call when and if they need time off, and management respects their assessment of their own needs.

Other startups now offer paid “sabbaticals” where employees can take up to six weeks off with pay if they feel they’re becoming burnt out. This is a fantastic option for unhappy employees who may be thinking of quitting. By taking a sabbatical, they can regroup and consider their options, all without sacrificing their position or losing any money.

Now that is a recipe for some serious company loyalty!

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