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Should small businesses offer perks to employees?

Benefits are something all employers have to consider – health insurance, sick leave, 401k. But perks? Most small business owners don’t think about perks when they’re hiring their first employees. Perks can make a difference though, especially in a low unemployment economy like we’re experiencing now in Hawaii. If you want to keep your employees happy and attract new talent, offering perks can set your company apart from the rest.

Benefits vs. Perks

Benefits are a type of non-wage compensation → health insurance, 401k, sick leave, vacation time and paid time off. Benefits are more stable and reliable than perks. They’re a big deal for employees, but they can also cost the employer a lot more than perks.

Perks are things an employer offers an employee on top of salary and benefits. Perks can include a company cell phone, company car, gym membership, movie discounts and flex time.

Why do perks matter?

When a job seeker is looking at offers from different companies, if salary and benefits are comparable, perks can be the deciding factor. Even when salary and benefits are not equal, perks can be important. For example a parent might go with a job that pays a little less, but the company offers flex time so they can adjust their schedule to take their kid to soccer practice every week.

Perks that don’t break the bank

Small business owners don’t have to spend a lot of money on perks for employees. One of our clients takes their employees out to lunch every month — this perk is a win on all sides. It’s great for team bonding and helps with communication and collaboration.

Flex time is a great perk for small businesses to offer. With flex time, an employee can take a couple hours off for a personal appointment during the work day as long as they make up the time within a week. This shows the employee you trust them and doesn’t cost the company anything.

Other ideas: keeping the kitchen stocked with snacks and coffee, casual Fridays, pet-friendly office, training opportunities, or a day off to do volunteer work.

Offering perks to your employees

If you’re thinking about offering a perk to your employees, get feedback first. Find out if it’s a good fit and something they would appreciate.

Baby steps! Don’t offer 10 perks right out the gate. Start with one perk at a time. Make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with financially.

And remember, everything in moderation. This isn’t the dot-com boom. Offering perks doesn’t mean your employees are playing ping-pong, relaxing in bean bag chairs with pizza and beer when they should be working. Not only is the work not getting done, but if business slips and you have to take back a lot of perks, you’re going to have a lot of disgruntled employees.

Perks, when they’re a good fit for your business and your company culture, are a great way to attract and retain talent. Need ideas? We have a long list of perks that our client companies are able to offer their employees, from movie tickets to gym discounts, at no cost to the employer. Give us a call at (808) 354-0498.

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