Employee Benefits Career Concept. Business Bonus Work Perks.

How to Get Creative with Employee Benefits

Article by Sarah Brown, originally published in the Retail Observer

In today’s culture, both existing and prospective employees are looking for and expecting extra perks above and beyond the benefits that have been historically offered. The “extras” that used to be greatly appreciated, such as health benefits, 401k, paid vacation, PTO, etc., are no longer considered extras, they are expected – and more.

These new perks may include working from home, paid daycare provided by the employer, a vehicle or a stipend for a vehicle, HSA accounts, flexible hours, student loan repayment or tuition reimbursement (not necessarily applicable in all industries), wellness stipends such as a gym membership, bonuses for weight loss or smoking cessation, unlimited vacation time or mental health days off, ability to bring their dog to work, etc.

It can be hard for small business owners to compete with the larger players in the same marketplace to keep their employees.

One way that the smaller, independent company can compete is to get creative with the benefits they’re offering. This might include offering creative benefits to current employees as well as prospective employees, to get them to look seriously at the company as a potential employer.


  • Offer your employees flexible hours by letting them work longer days four days a week so they can have a half-day one day a week, while still working their regular total weekly hours. Or in a two week period you can have them work longer days for nine of the fourteen days and give them one full day off per pay period. Some may choose to take advantage of this, while others may not like it.
  • Stagger employees’ start and end times so some can start later – after taking the kids to school – and work later; while others might want to start earlier so they can pick up their kids from school in the afternoon. If you require Saturday hours, make them flexible, for example once or twice a month, or give them a day off during the week.
  • Schedule calls around their children’s games, practices, or school events. For example, if their child has soccer practice on Wednesday, allow them to leave a little early, or schedule their last service call a little earlier than normal so they can make it to the practice.
  • Let office employees work from home on specific days, when it’s doable.
  • Host a potluck once a month or once a quarter – it will build camaraderie and community.
  • Offer employees one paid family day a year or per quarter, with a stipulation that they must spend the day with their family. To ensure that they do, make them bring in a photo of where they went or what they did, and a brief write-up of the day. Not only will the employees appreciate this, but the whole family will as well.

Being more flexible and family-friendly will help you create loyal employees who’ll value their jobs and their employer, knowing that you value them.

Dedicated, happy employees can translate to happy customers. Customers can tell when your employees are happy, and they’re more likely to look positively at your company. When the employees aren’t happy, they might not even realize how their negative remarks can lead to an unfavorable view of your company.

Get your employees’ input – ask them what they think are some good ways to build company morale and make your company a better place to work. Obviously, this won’t be possible in all situations, and doing these things won’t guaranteed that you’ll please everyone, but trying new things to boost the spirits of your most important customers (your employees) is a step in the right direction. Also, there are lots of companies that are offering hiring bonuses to new employees at this time – but don’t forget your current loyal employees who’ve been working hard for you.

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