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5 Affordable Ways to Offer Employee Benefits

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Here is how not to reward employees:


After graduating law school, I got a job at a law firm that was a bit suspect. The gig was fine, not great, and so I was surprised a few months later when the firm announced that it was going to have a holiday party. The first clue we had that something was amiss was that we were told that no spouses or partners were allowed at the party.


A few weeks later we all went to the party on, of all things, a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Like I said, it was strange. But things got downright weird when the managing partner took to the microphone to announce that we all still needed to bill for the two hours we had been at the party . . . and so everyone thereafter went back to the office to work late.


The. Worst. Job. Ever.


So yes, there are right ways and wrong ways to reward employees. The important thing is that the right ways can pay big dividends as happy employees become loyal employees and loyal employees make for happy customers.


Here then are five easy, great ways to reward employees:


  1. Offer life insurance: If anyone knows the value of insurance as a benefit, it is John Cassano of Compass Insurance. John has been in the insurance business for over 30 years and has found that in his own business, one of the benefits his team loves most is his voluntary life insurance plan.

Here’s how it works: At no cost to you, the employer, your business can offer employees the option to buy life insurance, guaranteed. The policy is owned by the employee, even when they move on to different employment.


John says almost half of his staff takes advantage of the program and it is a win-win. “Employees love it because there are no medical tests, and it’s a valuable benefit, and they own it. I love it because it helps me attract and retain the best talent.”


You can learn more about how to offer this great benefit from John.


  1. Flexibility: Being flexible with your staff is so simple and yet it can be incredibly useful in creating and maintaining a team that is willing to go the extra mile. Treating employees like adults and making accommodations for their lives and needs may not sound like an “employee benefit,” but if you have ever worked someplace where that is not the case, you know it is.

Letting people start work a bit late or leaving a bit early, or understanding that sometimes things come up during the work day, creates a cooperative culture. Your employees will appreciate and respect your flexibility, and that will in turn lead to loyalty and a happier work environment.


  1. Food/treats: As we all know, food is the way to a person’s heart and so, if you have the means to provide free food in the workplace, this can be a great benefit. Indeed, one thing you will notice if you ever see a profile of bigger businesses that get lauded for their employee benefits (think Google or Facebook) is that they consistently offer staff free food.

And note, it need not be free meals. If the budget is a little too tight to keep food in the office on a daily basis, consider bringing in bagels or donuts every week or two. Buy the staff lunch, grab coffee for everybody, etc.


  1. Gifts/prizes: Offering small gifts or prizes as incentives is a great way to ensure quality work. And they don’t have to be grand or expensive things either. Everyone loves winning prizes/contest, regardless of what the reward actually is. You could offer tangible things, like gift cards, lunch paid for by the boss, candy, or movie tickets. You could offer up extra days off or a long lunch as potential prizes – the options are many.

  2. Saying thank you:This one is the simplest, but probably the most important. Take note of things that are going well, look out for people who are going the extra mile or have truly accomplished something special and thank them. Taking a moment to appreciate these people and thanking them regularly will make a difference.

So yes, there are many fun, creative things you can do to keep your employees happy and motivated, and, happily, they don’t even need to include working overtime.


About This Author
Steve Strauss is often called "the country’s leading small business expert." A best-selling author and USA TODAY's small business columnist, Steve is a thought leader, global speaker, spokesperson, content creator, and author of 17 books including the the best-selling Small Business Bible. Steve's social following is in the six-figures. You can learn more about Steve and teaming up with him at Steve’s column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly for USA TODAY and his highly-syndicated content is followed by many. Steve is also a columnist for Inc. and Fast Company, the editor-in-chief of Small Business Connection, and he also creates content for Bank of America, Allstate, SCORE, Staples, and many other clients who want the best, most cutting-edge small business content. Steve speaks the the world over and has been a select speaker for the U.S. State Department, speaking in places like India, Japan, Mongolia, and the West Bank. His high-energy, fun, intelligent keynotes, breakouts, and webinars cover everything from small business success strategies to marketing, innovation, and global trends in business. PR firms love to tap Steve to be a small business influencer for corporations wishing to reach the small business marketplace. He is the small business spokesperson for Bank of America and Microsoft, and he sits on the Board of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, and advisory boards for P&G Pro and SCORE. Strauss Syndication creates world-class content for clients (both Steve Strauss branded as well as white label): Blogs, articles, webinars, e-books, tweetchats, podcasts, white papers, etc.