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Six employee perks that won’t break the bank

Attracting and retaining the best people for the job has always been challenging, but these days it’s about more than just money. Today, employees value a workplace that sees them as people, supports their needs and helps them find a better work-life balance. In fact, one survey found that more than 80% of employees would choose benefits or perks over a pay raise.1

For you, that means offering an enhanced employee support package that can attract top talent while staying within your budget. Not an easy task, especially since 80% of employers expect health and wellness costs to continue rising.2 It’s no wonder that business leaders report that cost is their #1 benefits challenge.3 But finding the ideal balance can mean you’ll win the respect and gratitude of your company and the people who make it work.

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Here are six perks that may show your employees you care without breaking the bank.

Flexible hours

A recent Business Solver survey shows that 95% of employees want flexible hours, and the people who hire them agree.4 Gone is the notion that to do a good job at work, an employee must be on-site from nine to five, five days a week. At-will hours are an option in some industries; in others that require physical presence, split shifts and schedule restructuring can help achieve a similar result. The pandemic has helped us all understand that productivity isn’t necessarily measured in. What’s more, flexible work hours are highly favored by women, who are still most likely to be responsible for childcare and housework.5, 6, Flexible hours may help retain female talent,7 and having women in the workplace benefits everybody.8

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Work from home

Coupled with flexible working hours, a remote-work option can have a big impact on employee well-being. Pre-pandemic, remote work was often seen as risky: If employees weren’t under the watchful eye of a supervisor, the thinking went, they would tend to take more breaks or goof off. Productivity would suffer. But after a year of Slack and Zoom, we now know many jobs can be done efficiently from home. Companies are even questioning whether a large, central office space is worth the cost. Letting your employees continue to work from home at least some of the time shows that you trust them. It also allows them to skip those long commutes and spend more time with their families instead.

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Floating holidays

Most companies offer employees a mix of vacation and sick days that accrue over time. Floating holidays are an added benefit that costs little to implement and shows goodwill toward employees. Whether a floating holiday is used as a day to rest and recharge or to celebrate a religious or cultural holiday that isn’t nationally recognized, it can be scheduled whenever employees choose, putting them in control of their time off. Some diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experts recommend a floating holiday policy as a part of a broader DEI program, allowing people in nondominant religions to observe relevant holidays more freely.9

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Peer-recognition programs

Everyone wants to work with people who improve their day and lighten their load … and most of us want to be one of those people. That’s why peer-recognition programs are one of the easiest, least expensive steps you can take to build a positive workplace. A recent Achievers survey on workplace retention found that 19% of employees thinking of leaving their jobs listed a lack of recognition as a reason. You can encourage employees to recognize the champions among them with a company-wide platform that solicits feedback and sends compliments. Or take it a step further and celebrate personal and professional milestones with brunches, lunches or happy hours.

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More robust benefits

When choosing benefits, it’s important to keep cost in mind, but you should also be thinking about a much less tangible quality: empathy. At least a quarter of employees and nearly half of CEOs surveyed by Business Solver saw higher-quality benefits as an important indicator of empathy.4 Benefits such as health insurance, dental and vision insurance, critical illness insurance, accident insurance, short-term disability, cancer insurance and hospital indemnity help ensure employees’ health and financial security. That means they’re a relatively low-cost investment that can go far in showing your employees that you have their backs.

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Paid family leave/daycare

This might not seem low-cost—and in truth, offering paid family leave and daycare both require significant resources. But the return on empathy and worker satisfaction may be worth it—and there are financial rewards as well. An annual Care.com survey tracked rising family costs, with 72% of parents reporting they spent at least 10% of household income on childcare.11 By helping to chip away at these costs, you can alleviate pressures that might distract your workforce. Plus, in Fractl’s cost comparison, 16 weeks of paid parental leave cost only about 10% as much as health insurance for a single employee.1 Free daycare services for one child cost about the same. That means that for around 20% of what you might spend on healthcare you can improve employee retention, ensuring you don’t lose your most talented staff members when they become parents.