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How to create a competitive benefits package – on a budget

Posted on May 09, 2016

Recruitment can be a sticky business. You have to be prepared to do everything you can to attract your dream recruits in this market. During the interview process, employers tend to forget that candidates are sometimes weighing up more than one job vacancy. And how would you feel if you missed out on that whizz kid because a competitor offered a slightly bigger salary?

Ah yes, the money thing. Why does it always come back to that? And what do you do if you can’t afford to beef up the basic salary? Relax. Firstly, for most candidates, it’s not all about money. Secondly, a well-thought out roster of perks and benefits can really enhance the deal. Best of all, an irresistible benefits package doesn’t have to break the bank.

Ten ideas below.

But first...

Limber up. It’s time to get flexible.

Different candidates, different interests, different needs. A one-size fits all benefits package doesn’t exist, so why try to offer one? You can win brownie points by letting new employees pick and choose from a number of different benefits. That way your new recruits can plump for the perks that best fit their lifestyles. Not everyone’s a gym rat, not everyone needs childcare vouchers. It’s about being flexible.

Speaking of which...

1. Free yoga classes and massage

A little bit of stress is good. Too much chips away at motivation and destroys productivity. Wave goodbye to excess stress and keep your team on an even keel with free yoga classes and massages. Have a specialist visit your office once a week, once a fortnight or once a month. By the time your staff know their Downward Dog from their One-Footed King Pigeon, their zen-like calm will surely boost focus and productivity.

2. Free meals

What’s the difference between students and employed professionals? Students don’t try to hide their love of free food. The cost of a satisfied stomach soon adds up. Offering a free or subsidised canteen is a great way to give something back to your staff. It also gives you a way to inspire healthy food choices. (Quality in, quality out.) You could also offer this perk as an incentive. For example, free food vouchers for employees who cycle to work. And they say there’s no such thing as a free lunch...

3. Medical insurance

It’s true. You can’t put a price on health. Nobody likes to think of the unexpected happening to them (and employers don’t want to run on a depleted workforce). But your staff will appreciate knowing that quality healthcare is available for them should they need it. No waiting lists, no unnecessary hassle. Too expensive to cover all staff? Consider offering it only to senior employees.

4. Birthday liberation!

How nice is it to have a lie in on your birthday? Giving your staff the day off for their birthdays is a small gesture that will make them feel extremely valued.

5. Rising holiday allowance

If profits are down or money is a bit tight, you may not be able to offer the kind of pay rises you would like. But there are other ways to reward staff loyalty. Like with an extra day’s holiday allowance for every year of service.

6. Give the gift of giving

Charity. Most people have a go-to cause that they like to support as often as possible. But sometimes life gets in the way. Allowing your staff a paid day volunteering for a charity of their choice is good for the soul, good for the community and sure to give you some positive karmic payback in good time. It will raise employee motivation too.

7. Head for the clouds

Travel. It’s the one thing that almost everybody wants to do more. Yet the novelty wears off pretty quickly with the whole travelling-with-work thing. Trekking across the globe is exhausting - and throws work-life balance out of whack. But an opportunity to work abroad for a month or more at a time? That’s a different kettle of fish and gives your employees the chance to really get a feel for another country. Worth considering if you have international offices. Email, Skype and online project management tools mean they will never be out of reach. Thanks, internet.

8. Let your team feel the burn

Healthy body, healthy mind. Or something like that. Exercise destroys stress, improves mood and boosts energy. Subsidised gym memberships are one of those perks likely to benefit both your business and your employees. (Emphasis on the word subsidised. No need to fork out for full memberships - some of the biggest companies in the world only pick up a portion of the gym bill.)

9. A chance to nurture the grey matter

TED talks have become phenomenally popular. What’s stopping you hosting your own monthly/quarterly guest speaker events? For a small fee you can book any number of speakers (including celebrities) to visit your office and wax lyrical on their area of expertise. You never stop learning. Why not build that into your company culture?

10. Friday drinks/pizza/foie gras?

Okay, maybe not that last one. But there’s a lot to be said for getting together at the end of the week to have a natter while chowing down on a 4 –cheese pizza or sipping an ice cold beer. (Preferably both.) It’s great for staff morale, it strengthens bonds between your staff and it doesn’t cost a fortune.

Over to you...

The law of reciprocity is a thing. Employers who are generous to employees tend to get enhanced productivity, morale and work ethic in return. The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank to compile irresistible benefits packages. All it takes is a little thought and creativity. Remember: you get what you give.

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