Let’s face it, none of us have an endless budget to spend on benefits, do we? We’re all looking for ways to stretch our benefits budget, finding those ‘gems’ which deliver high value and are low cost - making both the HRD and CFO smile! Here are five which you may want to consider to stretch your benefits budget:
1. Discretionary days off
This is that extra day (or two) off which companies give employees for ‘me’ time. They don’t have to be scheduled in advance, often don’t need to be explained, and they certainly have that feel good factor with employees. Some companies in the call these duvet days (a lovely term for when you lie in bed under your duvet/bedding - how cool is that?!). An example I read about recently is something called a ‘Yay Day’, which is what REI gives their employees to enjoy their favourite activity. Whatever you call it, it’s an interesting one to consider.
2. Show appreciation
Many studies have shown the power of appreciation or as we call it in HR, reward and recognition. Whatever you call it, we all know the difference recognition can make in engagement, which leads to higher productivity and innovation and lower turnover. And recognition doesn’t need to be costly, ranging from simple paper notes to reasonably priced online solutions. No matter your budget, I’m sure you can find a way to create a recognition programme and approach that aligns with your culture and values, and shows your employees that the company, managers and peers care.
3. Add flexibility
Any study you read on millennials (and there have been many!) talks about their desire to have greater flexibility in the workplace. Well they are not alone, as I’m sure you’ll find that other generations appreciate and desire flexibility. Flexibility can be in where you work, the hours you work, even something like what clothes you wear to work. And the great thing about flexibility is that often it costs you nothing except change - not the kind of change that falls to the bottom of your bag, but change in how you approach and manage work.
4. Provide discounts
I don’t think any of your employees would walk away from saving money and/or discounts, in fact they are often the most valued benefits. As with recognition, discounts can come in many forms, again depending on your budget. They range from you going out and negotiating local discount with local shops to putting in place an online solution. Whatever you do, your employees will view these positively as you are helping them make their money go further.
Another finding from studies on millennials is that they’re interested in giving back to the community, and again I’d challenge that others feel the same way. Volunteering is a great way to tick this box, giving your employees this sense of community which is supported by their company. I’ve seen volunteering done differently at companies, ranging from being given a few days off each year to volunteer as they wish, to organising team volunteering events, which brings in the added team building element. As with the first benefit (discretionary days off), this can have little to no cost to your company.
Let me end this by saying that there are many other examples out there of what companies are doing to provide high value/low cost benefits. It shows that we’re all getting creative in how we spend out benefits budget, so well done us! Go out there and find your ‘gem’!
Debra is the co-author of "Build It: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement," which she wrote with Reward Gateway Founder, Glenn Elliott. She's a Rewards guru, having over 20 years experience as a rewards leader, speaker, teacher and a frequent contributor to the Reward Gateway blog.
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