3 Ways To Manage Employee Perks in a Small Business

by Mehdi BAH

If you can’t afford to increase employee wages right now, consider joining many other companies in the race to offer the best employee perks. Many large corporations are now offering appealing maternity packages that include more time off for new parents, luxurious work stations that feel more like home, and free use of company products and services. Even when applying for positions with small to medium-sized businesses, most prospective employees are now looking for small perks that will make their life easier in some way.

When two companies offer them a similar position, they’re like to go for the one offering in-office massages, free hotel stays or work-from-home opportunities.

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What if you don’t have the budget to offer your employees free rides to work, load the lunch room with gourmet treats and reward your top performers with on-site massages?

Those are just three of the employee perks offered by Google, but not every business can afford to turn their office into an area with more an appeal than, well, home. Luckily, while many employees would love these perks, their expectations are more reasonable in general when they look to their small business employer’s offerings. What they expect from smaller businesses is a comfortable, professional work space with some perks that match their lifestyle.

3 Ways To Manage Employee Perks

3 Ways To Manage Employee Perks

1. The Third Space Concept

Many of the employee perks offered by large corporations are built into the work environment. Instead of offering childcare assistance, the Campbell Soup Company welcomes kids into their on-site kindergarten and after school programs.

Rather than paying for employee gym memberships, the Hershey Foods Corporation built a large on-site fitness center. These businesses and many others, are moving away from the stuffiness of traditional office space to incorporate third spaces.

An employee’s first space is their private work station. Their second space is often a meeting room, lunch room or other communal area. A third place is a more relaxed environment where employees can work away from their primary space, interact with one another freely, use technological resources provided by the company or enjoy a snack. General Mills has turned their corporate headquarters into one big third space by not assigning work stations. Employees work wherever they feel the most comfortable.

These spaces can improve employee morale and productivity, and they’re big incentives that may attract new employees. Most smaller companies can’t compete with the luxuries offered by large corporations, but they can create third spaces on a smaller scale. Turn a walk-in closet into a book nook with a comfortable couch for napping or reading during breaks. Get rid of the long table in the conference room, replacing it with comfortable seating, welcoming decor and free coffee and tea. You can use this space for group collaboration as well as official meetings. Even a small fitness center can become a third space with the right setup.

2. Healthcare Remains Number One

A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, revealed that healthcare plans are the most desirable employee perk across the board. The cost of healthcare is soaring, and many employees are shouldering more of the expense than they can comfortably carry. If you can offer attractive plan options, you attract some of the most talented workers without putting forth much more effort in other areas.

It’s not that you offer healthcare that matters. Employee perks demand quality care and want comprehensive coverage. As a result, they’re reading the details of offered plans to see what is covered, what is not covered and how much they will have to pay. The SHRM survey revealed a few ways that you can make your healthcare program more attractive:

  • Offer coverage for more expensive treatments, including Lasik eye surgery, egg freezing and fertility treatment
  • Make company contributions to all health savings accounts opened each year
  • Pay a larger percentage of the premium

3. High Value Perks that Won’t Destroy Your Budget

For many employees, it’s the small perks that really matter. Spend some time thinking about the people working for your company. There are always affordable ways to give those people something extra that they will find valuable.

For instance, you can give employees free use of your company’s products and services or eliminate the waiting period for new hires to receive paid time off. If your employees are young and active, you may want to create intramural sports teams, but an office filled with older men may prefer free or discounted use of the local golf course. If you employ mostly young women, you may negotiate with a local salon to offer discounted haircuts, brow waxing and manicures in your office once every few months.


Most employees appreciate their employers more when they receive thoughtful gestures on a routine basis. Simple acts like catering meals for employee perks when a project demands they work late or reserving close parking spaces during cold weather can make employee perkss feel valued, and that leads to favorable employee retention. Even if you go big with third spaces and updated healthcare plans, make sure that you don’t forget those small touches, as they go a long way in making you the employer of choice.

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