When you can only pay a low salary, how can you still recruit great talent? Start-ups, small and medium-sized firms are just some of those restricted by salary obstacles when it comes to hiring and keeping the best talent. And it’s a serious problem, as outstanding talent can make or break these companies more than any other.
Here are our Sure-Fire Ways to Fight Back.
Although unemployment is near a 50-year low, the average American isn’t exactly swimming in cash. Sixty-nine percent of employees say they’re stressed about money. And thirty-nine percent of households don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense. These numbers especially apply to millennials, who now make up the largest segment of the workforce.
If you’re a small business owner, all this data means you should prioritize benefits that strengthen your employees’ (and potential employees’) financial wellbeing. In fact, how about starting with rounding out your package with meaningful, low-cost lifestyle perks.
Living It Up!: Leverage your Lifestyle Perks
There are loads of ideas for inexpensive perks that you can implement, helping to boost employee productivity and attract people when salary is below what your competitors are asking. Sell what you have – maybe it’s the fact that you all sit as a team together, at adjustable desks, and all have Macs. Maybe it’s that you all work remotely or have freedom of hours. Find what it is that your current employees love about their perks and work environment and promote the heck out of it or steal some of our ideas.
- Mission and Purpose –this is probably your biggest selling asset – where your employees have a mission and a clear understanding of their incredibly important role in the success of a company. Play on your candidate’s natural inclination to succeed and learn in more detail from Daniel Pink in his book Drive. This video is an excerpt of his TED talk based on the same research. (Skip to 5:05 – actually don’t, just watch the whole thing!)
- Flexible hours- late starts or early finishes.When the sun starts shining, introduce summer Fridays so everyone can start their weekend a few hours early.
- Family days- for when kids are on half-days from school or your aging parents need some help
- Unlimited vacation time- enough said!
- Volunteer time- Nearly one-quarter of companies give their employees PTO specifically for volunteering. Doing so will create a culture of giving back (and generate plenty of warm fuzzies).
- Work-From-Home Days- whether its headspace to focus on a project or be home for a delivery.
- Seasonal activities- pizza Fridays or cinema nights or fantasy football leagues.
- A knockout coffee machine, free food or even just fresh fruit in the office– Hanger is real!
- Gym membership or stipends for fitness classes or subscriptions to ClassPass, Zwift or Peloton
- Office Environment- what matters most is that your team feels comfortable. Consider paying for a Spotify subscription, or add a basket of blankets for those that sit under the a/c vent.
- Peer recognition –ask employees to recognize each other. Give each employee a gift certificate to a local business, then have them hand it to a peer who’s acing it. Use employee feedback software like Officevibe or TINYPulse that integrates peer-to-peer recognition into its platform.
- Training and Development– any form of training where an employee will improve in themselves will make your existing employees better, and would-be employees seriously consider your offer. Easy wins include monthly lunch-and-learns, online training courses, tuition reimbursement (it’s tax deductible) or a mentoring program.
Show Me the Money: Promote your Financial Perks (and maybe add some new ones!)
- Tax-efficient benefits as part of an employee’s compensation package are a great way to bulk up someone’s take-home salary and reduce your own payroll costs, like health insurance, public transport supplements, educational support, paid mobile phone and meals at work.
- Flexible Access to Emergency Funds– To reduce anxiety about emergency savings, consider using a payroll service that allows employees to access emergency funds before payday at a low cost. Services like these can help protect your team from credit card late fees and overdraft charges and build their long-term financial resilience.
- Workers’ compensation– Accidents suck. And not being insured for them sucks even more. Generally, policies cover wage replacement for the injured employee, as well as medical bills and vocational rehabilitation. Those of us in California take this State requirement for granted but if you’re attracting candidates from out-of-state, they may not be aware of this benefit.
- HSAs and FSAs- Give your employees a tax-free way to pay for health care expenses by looking into health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible savings accounts (FSAs). While administering an FSA costs approximately $4 per employee per month, you won’t have to pay payroll tax on employee contributions (which could actually save you money!)
- QSEHRAs (Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement)- If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees and don’t provide a group health insurance plan, a QSEHRA is an affordable way to help with health care costs.
- 401(k) plans– Offer a 401(k) plan that automatically funnels money from paychecks into a retirement account. Employee contributions are tax-deductible, and as the employer, you can claim several tax credits too. Best of all, it doesn’t have to cost a ton. For instance, Gusto charges $8 per employee per month for its 401(k) plan, in addition to a one-time setup fee.
- Student Loan Assistance – Want to attract and retain young employees? Then you might want to help them pay off their student loans. Eighty-six percent of workers ages 22–33 would commit to an employer for five years if it offered student loan assistance.
- Commuter Benefits – When the cost of being at work and getting to work are negated, the take-home salary of your employees will look much bigger. Similarly, if you encourage employees to return to education or invest in training, having a supportive work policy for exams and study leave can make a huge difference.
Your small business benefits package says a lot about you and your company culture: what’s valued, what’s rewarded, how crazily innovative you are on behalf of your employees.
Spend some time figuring out which mix of company perks would best serve your team. Consider the challenges your particular employees face and show them more than just the money, show them love by demonstrating how you understand them, what’s important to them – and that you’re prepared to get creative for them – because their happiness matters.