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7 Cost-Efficient Benefits to Enhance Job Satisfaction at Your Startup

As a startup, your business likely lacks the financial means of well-established organizations. This stark reality can make you feel like you can’t compete when it comes to offering the perks that coveted talent is after. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Job candidates and employees can appreciate the unique advantages of working for a startup, including cost-efficient benefits.

With some creativity and flexibility, you don’t have to overstretch your company’s budget to show your staff appreciation or retain them. The trick is to find ways to deliver low-cost benefits employees will use. When considering what perks can fit into your budget and appeal to staff members, think about adding these seven.   

1. Health and Fitness App Subscriptions

Staying in shape is good for your employees, given that regular exercise has been shown to increase sleep quality and cognitive abilities. What’s more, it’s good for your company, since both of these happy results are likely to raise your team members’ productivity levels. But with the average gym membership costing between $40 and $70 a month, the expense might be more than you can afford. One savvy alternative is to foot the bill for a paid fitness or health tracking app subscription instead.

App subscriptions can support your employees’ fitness goals throughout the year at a fraction of the cost of an annual gym membership fee. Apps like MacroFactor, which supports micronutrient tracking, and other nutritional coaching tools are examples. So is ClassPass, which offers credits to subscribers for fitness classes and gym sessions of their choice. Tech solutions like these let you promote your people’s well-being without going into the red.

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2. Flextime

Flextime isn’t a new concept, but that doesn’t mean employees don’t appreciate it. With flextime, staff members choose when they start and end their work. No longer will night owls have to drag themselves out of bed for 8 a.m. meetings; nor will morning people have to linger long after their energy has waned. Provided your business needs allow it, flextime is the closest employees will get to the scheduling autonomy offered by entrepreneurship. It lets them accommodate the demands of their workloads and their demands at home.

Flexible scheduling eliminates the need to take PTO for medical appointments or to pick up the kids from school. Plus, flextime is a no-cost benefit as long as deadlines get met and collaboration doesn’t suffer. You may have to establish guidelines around its use and set especially clear work expectations, but the benefit is worth the effort. Even if you can’t offer flextime regularly, it might be something you can implement occasionally, such as every other Friday.

3. Seasonal Hours

Are there times of the year when your business slows down? If so, you might consider shorter hours during these seasons. A four-day workweek during the summer is one possibility, as is letting employees work until 3 in the afternoon instead of pushing through until 5. If your business model can accommodate seasonal hours, it’s a no-cost benefit most staff members will appreciate. Employees will be delighted to get an early start on their evening or weekend rather than having to drum up make-work tasks to fill their time

Implementing reduced seasonal hours might even save your startup some money. You won’t spend as much on utilities to keep your office open. And if your employees are on salary, they won’t lose any pay. If you have hourly staff, offering compressed work weeks with the same amount of hours ensures they don’t lose income, either. Before putting seasonal schedules into practice, ask your staff for suggestions on the scheduling arrangements they’d find most valuable.

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4. Annual Merchandise Gifts

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Annual merchandise gifts are a low-cost perk companies of various sizes offer. Toward the end of each calendar year, you can give a small gift to employees to reward tenure and show appreciation for another year’s hard work. You might let team members choose their reward from a catalog of high-quality company swag. Or you can let them select from a curated range of items at an online retailer like Amazon.

Of course, you can also simply provide employees with modest gift certificates. If you choose gift cards from major online retailers, team members will have ample flexibility in spending their annual reward. Alternatively, you can personalize them to each employee’s interests. You might offer a bookworm a gift card to a local independent bookstore, say, or an oenophile a gift card to a nearby wine shop. The dollar amount can be equal to the value of the company merch they’d otherwise choose from, but they’ll be getting something they’ll truly enjoy.

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5. Celebration Days

In addition to regular PTO, your startup can offer employees extra days off during the year for celebrations. Employees might use them to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or another special event, such as a child’s graduation. Celebration days are an additional time off benefit with a use-it-or-lose-it provision. Staff members don’t have to take celebration days, but any that go unused won’t carry over into the next calendar year. 

For new hires who haven’t accumulated much PTO, celebration days are an inexpensive way to say “thank you.” Even veteran employees will appreciate having access to a set number of celebration days per year. It’s time they can take off for a special occasion without exhausting their PTO and endangering future vacation plans. 

6. Catered Learning Sessions

Nearly everyone loves a free lunch, so why not have one catered once a month? Lunch-and-learn sessions expand your employees’ skills while rewarding them for their engagement. During these sessions, you can have your subject matter experts discuss industry topics or invite various team members to share role-specific knowledge. 

Another option is to have vendors come in to teach a class on a subject staff members have expressed an interest in. The subject may be a new skill they want to acquire, or it could be something they’re struggling to execute in their day-to-day responsibilities. Such classes might also teach skills necessary for an upcoming project. Lunch-and-learn sessions are a cost-effective way to strengthen team bonds, as you’re also investing in your employees’ abilities.

7. Time Off for Volunteering

It’s likely you have employees on your roster who want to give back to the community. They may already be involved with local nonprofits and charitable organizations as a volunteer. Yet their work obligations can get in the way of their desire to volunteer more. As their employer, you could remove this barrier by providing paid time off for volunteering.

Like celebration days, this paid volunteering time is in addition to regular PTO and to be used as employees wish. If a team member doesn’t use it, the designated time doesn’t roll over once the year is up. However, volunteer paid time off is a relatively low-cost way to acknowledge that your people are more than just employees. They have interests and lives outside of the office that you’re willing to support.  

Benefits Startups Can Provide Without Breaking the Bank

Your startup is competing for talent just like any other organization. Because your budget might be lower than that of an established company, you might not think your benefit package can measure up. However, employees consider the entire picture, including non-financial perks such as additional time off and flexible schedules. Adding benefits like these to your company’s total compensation package will help you stand out as an employer of choice.

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