Other thoughts on employee benefits

I got some good responses from my blog about how to deal with the recruitment crisis for small businesses, and that made me think about some of the other things that small businesses can offer to attract great employees, and keep the ones you’ve got.

Here’s the first batch of employee benefits:

  1. Free healthy snacks in the office and each employee gets the vote each month as to what the budget should be spent on.
  2. The opportunity to work from home, at least part of the time.
  3. An allowance to spend on an ergonomic home office.
  4. Secure cycle storage.
  5. An interest-free loan scheme for a public transport season-ticket.

 Cheap or free employee benefits

  • Childcare Vouchers. These can actually save you and your employee money, and lots of small businesses don’t know about them. You take money out of their pay packet (obviously, with their permission) and this goes directly to the childcare provider. You save money on the employer’s national insurance, and the employee doesn’t have to pay national insurance or tax on the amount, so they save too.


  • Cycle to work scheme. Your company provides a loan to the employee to buy a bike, and any equipment like lights, etc., and the loan is repaid from their salary. You get employees who are fitter, healthier and are awake when they start work in the morning.


  • Charitable giving. Another “salary sacrifice” scheme, which doesn’t cost you a penny. The employee chooses their own charity, or the office can have a vote on the charity they want to support that year, and you just take a set amount from their pay each month. You can wrap this up a little as well, by offering to match the money your employees give, and your company contributions save you money on your corporation tax bill, which is always nice.


  • Time off for volunteering. Big companies often use this one, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work for little companies too. You can either do this in a very simple way, by telling people that they can take one day off a month to volunteer for a charity, or you can team up with a local charity to offer some of your staff to help out with whatever it is that they need. You might think that you can’t afford to lose a day a month, but I bet you that most of your staff won’t take up 12 whole days a year, and even if they did, I would say that this would be a good way of making them feel good about working for your company, and revitalising them so that they contribute more when they get back to the office.

Helping people to work late employee benefits

I get a lot of my best work done in the early evenings. I know that some people love getting in to the office at 7.30 or even earlier to get a start on their work before the emails come in and the phone starts ringing.

While I wouldn’t want to encourage you to have an over-working culture, as this could be counter-productive in the long run, it could be good to support people who like to work in this way. Here are some ideas about how you might make it easier and more productive for them:

  • Provide breakfast. You could shell out for some of those packs of instant porridge (the fashionable ones, not the Ready Brek) so that your early starters have great support for their blood sugar levels.


  • Provide dinner. If you sometimes have a big push to finish a job, and some of the team need to stay late, make sure that they’ve got the okay to order some food in to keep them going. You can get one of those preloaded debit cards and leave it in the office, and give people advice about how much they are allowed to spend.


  • Taxi policy. If people regularly work quite late, they might not be able to get home easily by public transport. Make sure that they can get reimbursed for getting a taxi home if they’re working late. This can also make people do more work because they’ll get home quickly and safely.

More expensive employee benefits

  • Job-related training

Photo credit – Bananas by Sam from Flickr