Employee Perks That Won't Break the Bank

Small businesses can offer inexpensive employee perks that go a long way in encouraging loyalty.
OPEN Forum Contributor
April 06, 2012

Employees love perks. Luckily, small businesses can offer inexpensive and easy rewards that go a long way to encouraging satisfied employees. Many of the best employee perks are the cheapest.

Be creative and think about what your employees would like. Don't assume that the best perks are the most expensive. You can build a positive company culture by giving to your employees and it'll pay off for your business.

Here are several examples of perks you can offer employees without breaking the bank.

Babies at work

It's difficult to take a newborn to daycare right away, so many new parents appreciate the opportunity to bring their babies to work. The program is an everyday benefit for new parents, giving them a chance to bond with their babies and keep their minds (mostly) on the job. (It's not just on Bring Your Baby to Work Day.)

Helping new parents avoid the expense and difficulties associated with newborn childcare is a great support that your company can offer employees. Newborn babies sleep a lot, anyway.

Sacramento, California, Schools Financial Credit Union has been offering this perk since 2002. The organization lets parents bring newborns up to 6 months old into the office.

"When we first started doing it, most of the managers were skeptical," says Roy Worley, the company's vice president of marketing. "But once you go through your first baby, it’s great. The employees are very productive, and they appreciate being with their babies."

Some of the babies have come back to the office for Take Your Child to Work Day. Who knows? They might like it so much they'll apply for jobs there someday.

Smorgasbord of options

Some businesses employ the services of a company like BetterWorks to provide rewards to employees. BetterWorks offers companies a network of restaurants, massage therapists, pet-boarding centers, rock-climbing gyms and other local merchants.

Employees get BetterWorks currency that can be spent at any of the merchants in the BetterWorks network. Participation for a business with up to nine employees costs $30 a month, $75 for 10 to 25 employees—higher for larger companies.

Employees can get BetterWorks currency either as a monthly stipend or as a bonus reward to recognize employees. It can be spent in any way the employees want at participating merchants. It's a popular recruiting and retention benefit among employees, who appreciate being able to choose their benefits and explore the local community.

"It's really hard for a company to build a perks program from scratch, and it’s hard to build a perks program that will satisfy all employees," says Nicole Jordan, director of communications with BetterWorks. "We give a universe of perks to employees, and they get to choose what they want and how they want to reward themselves.”

Companies that make use of the BetterWorks program report that employees love the range of perks and the opportunity to try new things.

“Companies often look for ways to reward and incentivize employees that are unique and tailored to the employees," says Mark Torres, senior vice president for people and culture with the Rubicon Project, an advertising-technology company that offers $50 in BetterWorks money each month to its employees, along with special bonuses.

"BetterWorks is the first and best program I’ve used that lets employees reward themselves.”

Employee perks don't have to break the bank. With a little ingenuity, businesses and employees can benefit from inexpensive perks.

Vivian Wagner is a freelance writer in New Concord, Ohio. She blogs for Contently.

OPEN Forum Contributor