Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Small Company Employee Perks

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about small and medium business employee perks. Specifically, the article discussed perks given by Silicon Valley startups to recruit and retain employees amidst a rising tech market. I know most of you are not tech companies but the article got me thinking. Aren't there perks that small businesses can provide that are relatively low cost but could help keep employees happy? People quoted in the article spoke of competition but also of wanting to keep hard-working employees at the office so they can innovate with one another. In addition, the companies want to encourage innovation by making the work atmosphere fun. They reason that people do their best and come up with the most creative ideas when they are relaxed or having fun. Go figure!

I say that sarcastically. I know we can all think of when we had an "Aha!" moment while walking or running, or after finishing some fun activity, or in the midst of reading a good book. Notice the pattern? We were either relaxed or having fun. Yes, it's true that we can also innovate when under pressure but that has much more to do with getting the mind to focus than with anything else.

Anyway, there are employee perks besides the usual employee benefits. You can offer a free lunch once a week. Or, if your budget is limited, you can offer lunch to those that came up with the best money-saving, sales-boosting, productivity-enhancing (you get the picture) ideas that week. Or you can have a potluck lunch or provide continental breakfast a few times a month to encourage general office mingling. You can allow employees to work from home once a week or a couple of days a month. Employees who often work out in the field like IT technicians and engineers or sales representatives really like it when they are allowed to have a home office as their base.

You can have a game day at a nearby Dave & Busters or similar entity. Dave & Busters offers group discounts as do many other amusement facilities. Cooking classes? The local culinary arts school can help. What do many of your employees like to do? Poll them and get ideas. The options for employee perks are essentially unlimited even if your budget is. Try it. Your employees will like it and happy employees make a stronger business.

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