Large firms with enormous cash reserves and high turnover can afford to throw money at their employee benefit package. But how can smaller businesses or those on a tight budget compete? We explore ten perks your business can afford.

1. Flexible Working

This is the most desired benefit amongst SME employees. Introduce this perk by allowing employees to choose when they come into the office. To ensure you have staff available at key times, establish core working hours, like 11 am to 3pm. This will enable employees to start and finish late or start and finish early.

Not only will this support parents with schools drop-offs and pick-ups but those with caring responsibilities too. And anyone who wants to leave early on a Friday for a weekend away or go to the gym before work will also benefit. In essence, flexible working helps people balance work with life.

2. Training and Development

Learning and development is often one of the first budgets to be cut when times are tough. But people want their employers to invest in them. And research shows that those companies who spend above the national average of £300 per employee have higher employee satisfaction.

It’s clear that employees also want development as those who don’t receive it are more likely to vote with their feet and leave. Making this a perk you can’t afford to ignore.

3. Time to Volunteer

Corporate social responsibility isn’t just for big employers. SMEs often take time out to support local events or undertake work to aid local charities. To find opportunities take a look at local charities’ websites. Or poll your staff to find out which social enterprises they would like to support.

4. Relax Your Workwear Policy

If your people spend most of their time in each other’s company, you could make every day dress down Friday. Should smart attire be required for meetings make this clear in your communications. Or, if a more relaxed approach works for your sector, your customers could well be fine with the change.

5. Public Transport Loans

Public transport passes are expensive. But you can ease the financial burden for employees with an interest-free loan. Simply pay the money to those who apply then set up monthly deductions from their pay. If a staff member leaves, you can deduct any outstanding amount from their final compensation, making this a cost-effective benefit with little financial risk.

6. Reduced Gym Memberships

Health and wellbeing is increasingly important for society and employers. Providing reduced gym memberships for your staff is a great way to encourage them to take care of their health. This is another cost-effective benefit that you could negotiate with a local gym. Or take a look at this handy buyers guide for done-for-you options.

7. Health Cash Plans

Employees often like the idea of private medical insurance, however this is a pricey benefit that can be difficult to remove if costs get out of hand. Instead, consider introducing a corporate cash plan for your employees.

They start from as little as £5 a month and provide cash back towards everyday health costs like dental, optical and physiotherapy. Some also include an employee assistance programme which can provide counselling and advice helping you to support employees’ mental health too.

8. Create Individual Perks

The most appreciated perks are not always the flashiest. Spend time thinking about your team, then each month choose something special to show one individual that you appreciate their efforts. This could be as simple as taking one of your team out to a new restaurant that they’ve mentioned. Or buying tickets to a game or concert they want to attend.

Spending money on something your people will genuinely enjoy is much smarter than providing blanket benefits that don’t really tick the box for anyone.

9. Duvet Days

Presenteeism is a big problem for businesses. It can happen when employees come in to work because they feel ill, but it also applies to those days when people just don’t want to go to work. If your staff turn up on these days, they’re unlikely to bring their most productive selves to work. Which is where duvet days come in.

They give employees the option to call in first thing and take the day off. Then they can sleep or do whatever else it is that helps them feel rejuvenated, before coming back in the next day feeling refreshed and ready to go.

10. Unlimited Holidays

Nobody ever goes on holiday leaving critical work undone. Well-managed professionals plan their workload, prioritise and deliver everything that needs to be done before they go away.

It’s this simple premise – that the work always gets done- that underpins unlimited holiday policies. By trusting your staff to complete their work to standard and to take as much time off as they need, you’re empowering your people to take control of their work life balance.

Yes, this relies on having individual goals and high quality performance management. But there are lots of companies who are making this work and reaping the rewards. And in cash terms, this costs absolutely nothing.

To shake up your employee benefits offering, decide which of these options will best suit your business. Then do your research and roll out the changes. Or, if that sounds like too much work, get in touch with Crosse HR to manage the introduction of new business benefits at your firm.