I recently had the opportunity to moderate a discussion on fringe benefits that won’t break the bank. My panelists included benefit professionals from small, medium and large organizations. These organizations also spanned industries with academia, telecommunications, and manufacturing. I’ve culled some of the terrific ideas to share with you. All of these benefits are no cost to you as an employer and your employees will love them.
While flex time has been around for years, I’m always amazed that organizations have yet to embrace this concept. I’m equally troubled by organizations that have flex time without core meeting hours inside the flex parameters. Why have flex time if you expect someone to attend an 8am meeting?
Many organizations now encourage dogs to join the workplace. Of course, your workplace must be conducive to furry friends. I spoke to an HR leader whose organization does encourage dogs in the workplace and he said, “it’s a nuisance, in my opinion, and our employees love it”. He also confided he prefers cats.
No Dress Code
Most organizations have a “business casual” dress code these days. Consider taking it a step further and eliminate your dress code. Trust that your employees will make the right decision and when someone shows up in flannel jammies and slippers, provide feedback.
Culture of Work & Life
Balance truly isn’t possible and integration is more realistic. This culture must begin with senior leaders who take time off, leave early for their son’s baseball game or come in late after a medical appointment. Setting the example and making your employees feel comfortable is key.
Acknowledgment of Significant Other
Write a thank you note to your employee’s spouse, partner, parents or children letting them know how much you appreciate their family member. I did this when I had a newly married man working for me and he was logging some significant travel time for the organization. His wife was so surprised that I had taken the time to send the note and he was grinning from ear to ear after it arrived.
Gourmet food trucks are all the rage today. Consider having them stop by at the end of the business day to provide take-home meals for your employees. All you have to do is get them scheduled and your employees will be very appreciative. Consider providing a different cuisine each day of the week.
Yes, there are still organizations that haven’t embraced this way to work. I often find that they lack basic trust in their employees; a bigger problem. Determine what is right for your organization and it’s okay to determine that certain jobs don’t lend themselves to telecommuting.
Pet insurance is a terrific cost-neutral benefit that employees love. In my corporate days, we introduced it after surveying our employees about the benefits that would interest them. Many employees took advantage of this benefit.
Another cost-neutral benefit offered by a number of services. From writing a will to help with a speeding ticket, this benefit taps into the whole notion of work-life integration. And whoever you choose as a vendor will be more than happy to market the service and help your employees get enrolled.
Lunch & Learns
Tap into your current vendors or service and product providers in your area. You will find a wealth of topics that can be introduced over lunch. Gear your lunch and learns to topics that will help your employees better integrate their home life. Helping your children with homework, how to find a great daycare provider and setting up a household budget are all geared toward helping your employees.
Discounts at Merchants, Restaurants, Daycares, etc.
Is your organization part of a Chamber of Commerce? Most chambers offer discounts that your employees can access. Check with your vendors to learn what types of discounts they provide; usually in the fine print of your contract. Approach restaurants, child and pet daycares to see if they would be willing to provide your employees with a discount.
On Site Services
Consider having a dry cleaning or laundry pick up service. I even have a client that provides washers and dryers on site. Manicures, haircuts and fresh produce delivery are all able to be offered on your campus. Think services that your employees will appreciate.
On Site Wellness
Many organizations have wellness programs in place. Thank beyond the typical health screenings. Additional ideas include: yoga, meditation, weight training on site, bicycles for folks to use, showers for after lunch runs, healthy eating or weight watchers, coloring clubs and the list goes on.
I’m always asked, “how do I know what fringe benefits I should offer?” and I always say, “ask your employees”. Survey your employees and then conduct focus groups to learn what is important to them. Listen to their ideas and let them know what will and won’t work for the organization. Don’t be the organization that builds a beautiful child care center only to learn that your employees use their relatives and aren’t interested in bearing the cost of daycare. Yes, that did happen!