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What benefits can small businesses provide?

Small organizations sometimes struggle with recruiting employees. Owners ask what benefits can small businesses provide to entice employees?  Often the budget isn’t available to pay for the “normal” benefits like medical/dental/vision, so they may think there’s not much they can do.

Fortunately, we live at a time where there are lots of opportunities out there for a small business that may want to think outside the box.  First, start with your budget.  How much can you afford to spend on employees?  Whether it’s $0 or $500, there are a range of opportunities you can provide to show your employees you care.

If there is simply no budget, as every extra dollar you have goes into the employee pay, what about providing discounts on the goods and/or services you provide?  If that’s not really an option, can you let them utilize office equipment for personal use (within bounds)—maybe they can make copies for charities or use their computers to do their taxes or whatever works for you and/or your employees (just be clear with expectations/cyber concerns).

There are also ancillary benefits you can offer, even if you can’t pay for them.  Pet insurance, identity theft protection, discount programs; many will allow you to offer them at no charge to the business, especially if you can deduct any payments through payroll.  Alternatively, maybe the owner/manager takes over someone’s duties (or a part of the job) or does something different specifically to help employees one day each month/quarter.

With changes to the Secure Act, you may be able to have administrative fees covered in setting up retirement plan offerings.  Even if you can’t afford to match employee savings, you may be able to provide for payroll deductions to get them started in saving for retirement.  Many employees value this opportunity!

If you have any budget, all kinds of possibilities arise. Maybe you provide a “benefit of the month” such as gift cards, or a bonus, or lunch, a treat—you can spend minimal amounts on these if that’s all you have.  Most people enjoy being treated, even if it’s something small.  You can even make a game out of it by having someone draw the benefit out of a hat or someone gets to choose from a list, based on their achievement of goals or performance or some other factor each month/quarter.  Life insurance is another typically inexpensive benefit that your staff may value!

Helping your employees feel valued is the best benefit you can give them.  Do you truly appreciate their work and express that?  Do you provide opportunities for growth?  Talk with your employees; is there something they’d appreciate?  Maybe brainstorm with them based on budgets (or lack of).  Getting their feedback can ensure you’re on the right track and help keep them engaged.

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