As we prepare for the Overtime Rule (effective December 1) and continue to address increasing cost of insurance, we may feel the financial impact and strain on the budget. It can be hard for companies to provide benefits to maintain employee engagement and stay competitive in the workplace with limited spending available in the budget.
I know that as employers, we recognize that a key motivator, or perhaps the number one motivator for many employees is compensation – the salary that is earned each week. We work to make money and provide for our families and or achieve other goals. But don’t underestimate the power of low cost benefits.
When I planned to move to CAI from my previous job in Banking, one of my biggest factors in finding a good employer was one that had a similar family oriented culture and flexible schedule. I have a young child and being able to have time if he is sick, to participate in his events, or work from home when needed was a key decision maker for me. CAI is an very employee-friendly organization that offers many low-cost perks: unlimited personal time, ability to work from home if needed, supplement to a wellness program of my choice, and continuing education classes (so I can maintain my certification). The new CAI office in Raleigh further establishes CAI’s commitment to creating a great culture for employees. There are free snacks/drinks (including healthy choices like fruit and flavored water), several “We Spaces” that allow employees to move from their traditional desk spaces if they need a break or want to work in a different location for a bit, a lactation/meditation room, and several nice outdoor spaces for breaks and lunch.
Here are some other creative, low-cost ways that you can provide benefits to your employees:
Community Service/Volunteer Days: Allow your employees to have a couple of paid days per year to spend giving back to the community. Employees can participate in events such as Habitat for Humanity or Big Brother/Big Sister Program, working at a soup kitchen, or helping with Special Olympics. As an employer you could put requirements on the process for requesting the time away (to ensure coverage and ensure it is a legitimate request) and your participation will help build relationships in the community as a good steward.
- Flexible Schedules/Time Away: Not all companies can provide a flexible workplace due to customer/production needs. If your culture would allow for a flexible schedule or time away, give it a try. You can build in parameters to ensure compliance and avoid abuse while creating an environment that communicates a trusting relationship: you trust that the employee will get the work done and take time as needed without abusing the privilege. Some employers utilize a seasonal “summer schedule” that allows employees to take advantage of the longer day light hours.
- Employee discounts on company products or services. Does your company offer a product or service that they could give employees at a discount? We have companies that manufacture pocket books that allow employees to purchase at a discount, hotels that offer family/friend rates, and food processing companies that allow employees to have a certain number of free products per week worked.
- Education Assistance: Providing a small fund for educational assistance or student loan repayment can go a long way. You can also tie in parameters to ensure that the employees don’t get the assistance and leave – have them sign a reimbursement form acknowledging that they will repay the company at a certain rate if they leave within a predetermined amount of time. Providing educational assistance will allow your employees to grow and become more valuable.
- Wellness Programs: Wellness programs can range from super low cost to expensive. You can run a wellness program on a low budget by doing small walking challenges (have a couple small prizes like gift cards for winner), a newsletter outlining healthy eating/lifestyle tips (ask your employees to contribute) or a small ‘match’ on an employee’s choice of wellness program (Weight Watchers, Yoga, Gym Membership). Contributing to a wellness program will tie directly in to a healthier and happier work staff (and hopefully lower insurance/work injury claims).
- Casual Dress Days: Do you know how much wearing a pair of jeans matters to your employees? Seriously, allowing employees a casual day once a week will be LIFE CHANGING for your staff. Of course you can require that the dress code still meet requirements of the business and maintain the professional image for customers.
- Company Swag: I am sure you have (or can get your hands on) some logo items at a cheap cost. Employees love to have a water bottle, t-shirt, pens or small lunch container with their company logo. Double bonus: free advertising!
- Partnerships with Other Companies: Do you have a local business that you could partner with to offer employee discounts? Maybe there is a tire shop up the road that will offer a 10% discount to employees of your company or a local restaurant that will provide a discounted lunch for specific days during the week.
- Training: Show your employees that you value them and have a plan for their growth in the company. Sending an employee to a training class says that you have plans for them and are willing to invest in their talent and future with the company. As a member of CAI, there are many opportunities for cost-effective training and free webinars.
Overall creating a culture that values employees and puts emphasis on the employee’s work/life balance is a key to maintaining an engaged workforce and staying competitive with applicants.
Learn how CAI can help you improve performance and engagement in your workplace.
Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.