*A complete list of original employee benefits can be found at the bottom of this article*
Are you interested in developing an original employee benefits program but you’re not sure where to start? With the talent shortage that is afflicting many industries, lots of companies are looking to stand out from the crowd by finding innovative benefits to attract and retain employees.
But before you start offering free housekeeping services to all of your employees, take a moment to accurately assess your company’s needs.
1. What is your main objective in terms of employee benefits?
Is your primary goal to attract new candidates or retain employees?
Do you want to implement employee benefits so you’re up on the latest trends or is your objective to truly please your employees?
While the HR practices of companies in Silicon Valley sure look good on paper, it’s not realistic to think that every company can adapt those employee benefits to their own company. You have to consider your company’s context, issues and particular strategy.
2. Are your benefits closely linked to your mission and corporate values?
It’s important that your mission and corporate values are consistent when it comes time to implement original employee benefits.
If you operate in the environmental sector and you pay for your employees to park in a downtown parkade rather than promoting public transit, your benefit ideas don’t match your mission.
Think of your employees as your target audience. If the average age is 50, it’s better to promote group savings than create an on-site daycare.
3. What do the employees have to say?
Have you considered sending them a short survey to find out what they think? Whether it’s by giving your employees a choice or asking them to propose new options, they will definitely be happy to voice their likes and dislikes in terms of employee benefits.
If your employees don’t have access to a computer at work, you can print a paper version of your survey and collect the sheets at the end of the day. Some software has the option of filling out surveys on mobile phones. What a great way to encourage your employees to share their ideas!
- Insurance and group savings are the essentials
Before installing trampolines in the middle of your workspace, focus on selecting the right insurance and group savings broker. More and more employees see benefits as a must, even an unquestionable employment advantage.
Once employees have had access to a comprehensive benefit program, it’s pretty hard to go back to something basic, or even worse, having no benefits at all! It can also be stressful for them to lose their life insurance or long-term disability insurance by changing employers.
There are all sorts of group insurance plans that could meet your needs: basic plans, modular plans, flexible plans, plans with healthcare budgets…there are so many possibilities that it’s easy to get lost in the options. Your best plan is to conduct a needs analysis with a group insurance broker.
In terms of group savings, they save employees money and you can even deposit additional amounts to encourage their loyalty. When employees want to change jobs, yes, they do take their salaries into account, but also the employer’s contribution to their RRSP.
It’s possible to start a plan where only the employee contributes, and then add your contributions when management’s budget allows for it. Did you know that you can deposit bonuses into your employees’ RRSPs? A group savings broker can help you make sense of RRSPs, VRSPs, DPSPs and more. All you have to do is choose what’s best for you.
5. Determine your budget ahead of time
You may be tempted to add new and original benefits to your program all the time. If you think of each expense individually, the cost may seem small, but with each new element that you add, you increase the total benefits budget.
The amount that you set aside for the benefits will most likely change over time. Try to project into the future to accurately calculate the expenses you can afford as a company.
6. Find out what the competition has that you don’t
Who are your main competitors? Your company’s competitors may not be the same businesses that are “stealing” your employees. Stay informed about what other companies are offering that might get your employees interested in making a move.
If your competitor is offering little in terms of benefits, you will stand out among the crowd. On the other hand, if your competitors are promising their employees the moon, simply focus on benefits that will enhance your company’s mission.
7. Don’t add lots of new benefits at the same time
It may seem like a great idea to add numerous benefits simultaneously, but it’s not necessarily something that will work to your advantage.
Adding new benefits incrementally helps to spark the interest of your employees on a regular basis. Plus, if your company experiences financial difficulties, it will be very hard to rescind your employees’ favourite benefits.
If your company lets employees work from home but then suddenly asks that employees be at the office 40 hours a week, you will likely increase the level of unhappiness.
Some original benefits ideas besides insurance and group savings
- Unlimited vacation policy
- Work from home possibilities and flexible working hours
- Unlimited coffee, fruit and snacks
- Pet-friendly office environment
- Compressed work weeks
- Team activity days during work hours
- Paid volunteer days
- Bring-your-kid-to-work days
- Meal delivery at the office or at home
- Chair massages
- Personal trainer and nutritionist
- Medical consultations and dental centre
- Gym and group classes
- Hairdresser and barber services
- Car washing service
- Housekeeping services
- Daycare services
- Travel allowances
- Shuttle service for transport to the office
- Annual voucher for the company’s products
- Free passes or gift certificates
- Fully paid maternity and paternity leave
- Birth or in-vitro treatment bonus
- Pay for tuition fees or professional association fees
At the end of the day, it’s imperative to remember that corporate culture is more important than any benefit you could offer. Employees want to feel listened to, to receive feedback, and get along well with their colleagues. No matter how original your benefits, you can’t lose sight of who you’re offering them to and why.