Today’s job market is more competitive than ever — and as a startup with fewer resources, you can’t always offer the same compensation packages as the big players in your industry. To make up for that, many smaller companies offer other benefits that will convince top talent to join their organizations.
This can be a good strategy, but simply adding superficial perks like ping-pong tables and free snacks isn’t going to cut it for the modern workforce. If you can’t give your employees big salaries and bonuses, you need to provide something else that holds true value and meaning for them. The business leaders of Young Entrepreneur Council suggest offering these 12 benefits if you want to attract the best and brightest, even on a limited budget.
1. Opportunities To Attend Industry Conferences
Provide your employees with opportunities to grow by paying for conferences and industry event attendance. Whether that’s a graphic design workshop or a sales conference, motivate your team members with these unique experiences and opportunities to step outside of the office and learn. Give this option to every single one of your employees — don’t discount your admin and HR teams; there are events for every field! They will appreciate the opportunity to grow within the industry and take back what they’ve learned and put it into action. Not only are they benefiting from this experience as a professional, but as a company you’re benefiting from the new knowledge they’re taking back into the office. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions
2. A Flexible Work Environment
With current technology, there’s really no need to demand that everyone work a conventional 9-to-5, 40-hour-a-week schedule. For many people, the chance to get flex time, work from home and have flexible vacations is a valuable benefit. This allows employees to have better work-life balance and pursue their extracurricular interests and responsibilities. For some, this means they can travel while working. Others may be pursuing a degree or raising children at home. Of course, flex time and remote working need to be well planned so that employees are held accountable. But a flexible work schedule is a substantial perk that is at least as important to many people as money. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
3. An Environment That Fosters Creativity And Growth
The first step is to establish a workplace culture that encourages creativity and growth, from the most junior employee to those who are firmly established in their position. Allow employees’ creativity to guide them in the work they take on and remain open when employees tell you they want to take on a new project or idea. Employees will appreciate the chance to explore work in multiple departments, and your organization will benefit from their expanded capacities. Employees feel fulfilled when presented with the opportunity to learn and foster a diverse set of skills. – Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench
4. A Kind, Humble Workplace
Nobody likes working with a jerk. Our company sets a very high bar for friendliness and humility when hiring; even candidates who have been otherwise compelling were turned down because they came across as arrogant or disagreeable when interviewing. One person who’s really hard to get along with can change the entire feel and culture of a small company dramatically. Because we’ve worked hard to recruit this way, when candidates or new employees come in and meet the team, they feel a strong sense of support and friendliness. This goes far beyond traditional perks. Working with people you like means you actually want to be at work — and that has powerful implications for ability to score important new hires and retain them, even if you’re on a tight budget. – Tim Chaves, ZipBooks Accounting Software
5. Extra Time Off To Volunteer
You can take one of the more traditional strategies of offering extra vacation to a new level by explaining to the prospective hire or current employee that the time is to be used to volunteer at the charity of their choice or in the local community. There aren’t too many companies out there offering such a unique perk. Plus, high-level, talented folks generally don’t just want a big paycheck; they want to know they’re making a difference. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Cutting-Edge Technology And Tools For The Job
We offer our team top-of-the-line MacBook Pro computers. While it is not a salary increase, it is a perk for them to have the latest technology and equipment to do their jobs effectively. We are not out a significant amount of money, either, because devices can be passed to another person if the original user decides to leave or is terminated. Investing in technology is critical in our business because we are web-based, and having the latest programs and offering our talent the best that is available is one way we draw in new talent. Additionally, we offer product services, program licenses and account information to outsource what they need to make their jobs easier. We want our staff to succeed; it is a core value of our corporate culture, and making sure they have all the tools is key. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
7. Unlimited Vacation Time
Accion has been able to maintain our unmetered or unlimited vacation policy to date, with our current headcount of 30 employees. As we grow, I’m sure we’ll need to revisit this, but to date it’s been a huge perk. Employees feel trusted and like we’re not nickel and diming them when they need to take a sick day or go to the DMV. It also helps tremendously with parental leave. My belief is that if we have an employee who abuses the policy, it’s likely a hiring issue and not an issue with our policies. – Natalya Bailey, Accion Systems Inc.
8. Retreats For Remote Teams
If it’s within your company’s means, it’s a great idea to get your team together at least once a year to meet in person, have idea sessions and plan for the future. A lot of synergy happens when people are in physical proximity to each other that can be lost when you only work remotely. We’ve found that having remote retreats further strengthens connection between our team members. We get our team together once a year at some amazing location. We brainstorm ideas, arrange fun team-building activities and tours for them and enjoy delicious food together. This helps build a strong bond between team members and also a better level of connection and communication across teams. – Liam Martin, TimeDoctor.com
9. Transparent Financials And Strategy
Top talent wants to learn and grow in their careers. Most companies shy away from sharing the financial performance of their business, especially private companies, for fear that the information will be shared. But if you trust your team with the real situation at work, in good times and in bad, they’ll repay you with engagement. Functionally, you can share your board meeting presentation at your company’s all-hands meeting, and then the following meeting, share the board’s feedback. This will not only give your team tremendous insight into the position of the business and how you plan as a leader, but also what your trusted advisors are seeing in the marketplace. – Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed
10. Relevant Experience With Genuine Nurturing
Being a small company, it can be really hard to compete for talent, especially if you are in Silicon Valley. What can help you attract the talent (especially at entry level) is ability to provide relevant work experience with genuine nurturing. Startups and small businesses can give holistic work experience to their employees compared to an established company. On top of that, if you can provide an open environment where the culture is genuinely focused on investing in employee’s learning and growth, it would be a great perk to sell. There are not many companies that genuinely invest in their employees; it is easy to buy snacks, but really hard to customize employee experience. – Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.
11. Basic Parental Leave
So many companies in the U.S. don’t offer basic maternity leave, let alone the other accommodations required by someone who is pregnant. Companies routinely penalize top talent for pregnancy, often to the point of firing or convincing that top talent they have to leave. Offering even basic maternity leave will improve your company’s ability to retain top talent in the U.S. Parental leave isn’t just a women’s issue, either: All new parents (including adoptive parents) benefit from being able to focus on their families. Their work, by the way, is better when they come back because parents with leave can afford to get a little sleep. – Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
12. A Say In The Company’s Future
Working in emerging technology, we put a heavy emphasis on research and development at Futurus. While there is a dedicated R&D team, all employees, regardless of their role in the company, are encouraged to bring new ideas to test out. Everyone is kept in the loop with what is happening in the R&D department and can contribute to the process when they have time available. By giving my employees a voice in the company’s future, and allowing them to have their ideas heard, we’ve been able to gain and retain top talent. Their ideas mean faster advancements to the company, and we make sure they know they are valued. After seeing how this initiative has affected morale and attitude, I’d recommend this to anyone. – Annie Eaton, Futurus