Benefits You May Not Have Thought About
Have you thought about expanding the benefits you offer employees? Some of these may turn out to be less expensive than giving larger raises — and even more popular. Of course, not every benefit is workable for every company, but companies that do go above and beyond in what they offer may see improvement in morale and an edge in recruitment.
This can help both the company and the employees: If you work out, you'll probably be healthier and take fewer sick days. Some may come early for a basketball game, do a lunchtime aerobics class or run laps after work. Some experts have said that when employees exercise more often and eat better, morale improves, productivity increases and health care costs go down. Everyone wins!
Companies can pay a flat monthly reimbursement fee or sometimes even strike a deal with a local gym or health club for employee discounts. Larger companies, of course, may even provide a gym on-site for employees.
Many companies help reimburse employees for classes they take. (These are classes employees take on their own time, distinct from company-provided job training, typically done during business hours.) Employees get the benefits of increasing their knowledge, and the company gets a better-trained and educated workforce.
Companies often add limitations to the benefit. For example, there is typically a dollar limit to the amount an employee can submit each year. Also, management will likely want to approve the course of study, to make sure it is relevant to the job the employee has or is likely to be promoted into. It's appropriate for a bookkeeper, for example, to take classes in accounting, but not in English literature. Many companies also set goals, requiring a minimum grade for full reimbursement.
Some companies are nervous about offering this benefit, fearing that they'll pay to educate employees who will quickly depart for fresher fields, thanks to their new degrees. But a well-run company will provide additional challenges — and promotions — to better-educated staff, so few will need to leave to find better opportunities.
Extra Holiday Time
Companies may be able to grant this benefit at little cost to themselves. With travel and family plans, everyone gets a little busy at the end of December. Although some businesses, like retail stores, are extra busy, others find themselves in a lull. For example, a publisher that specializes in scholarly books shuts down from Christmas to New Year's Day, while keeping everyone on full salary. The company's authors and potential customers are academics, who have left their campuses, so there was little work getting done. It built up enormous goodwill at little cost to the business itself.
And this benefit doesn't have to be limited to December. A business that is busy in the winter but faces summer doldrums can close the week of July 4.