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Employer's Guide to Employee Perks on a Budget

Employer's Guide to Employee Perks on a Budget

Employee perks are an excellent way to boost employee morale and attract and retain top talent. These added benefits can demonstrate that you care about your employee's well-being and overall satisfaction in the workplace. That said, perks can be pricey. 

Here’s how you can incorporate employee perks into your benefits plan without breaking the bank. 


Refresher: What Are Employee Perks?

Employee perks are additional offerings that supplement an employee's initial salary and benefits and are not required by law. They are not the same as health insurance or other core benefits and most often fall under the umbrella of fringe benefits.

Employers can use these perks to support employee benefits offerings, stand out from other employers, create a more enjoyable working experience, and improve the organization's culture. 


Why Incorporate Employee Perks into Your Benefits Plan?

Employee perks can have a measurable impact on your organization, helping to solidify and lay the foundation for good company culture. Offering these sought-after fringe benefits can also help you become even more competitive in recruiting top talent. 

Offering perks is also a great way to maintain high retention rates among current employees. For example, if you provide training opportunities and tuition reimbursement, employees will see that you care about the future of their careers. Employee perks can also increase productivity. Studies have shown that happy employees are 20% more productive than those who are not. 

But what happens when these added benefits become too costly for an organization? Many employers may believe that perks would positively impact their culture and productivity, but they don’t have the budget for them. In this situation, organizations should look to incorporate free or low-cost options into their benefits plans.


What To Do When Perks Become too Costly

When budgetary constraints make it too challenging to add costly perks, it is worth considering what low-cost options are available. While some organizations may not be able to offer EAPs, paid gym memberships, or other expensive perks, it is still possible to build a competitive benefits plan without breaking the bank. 

Before selecting your employee perks, analyze your budget alongside your organizational goals. Creating a cost analysis will help you to determine what benefits will help your organization achieve its goals and how much money you can afford to allocate. 

Some benefits may initially cost money but offer significant returns, making the perk a worthwhile investment. For example, while it costs money to have employees undergo a training course, the skills they acquire will increase the quality and efficiency of their work, perhaps saving you money down the road.

Once you have determined your organization's needs, select benefits that meet your budgetary needs and provide a competitive edge in the labor market. The best perks can differ for each organization, industry, and work environment. For this reason, it is crucial to choose the benefits that best suit your organization. 


What Are Some Examples of Low-Cost Employee Perks?

Employee perks come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the ones that best suit your organizational needs will likely be an involved process. You will need to understand your current culture and the culture you wish to cultivate. Decide from there which perks offer the most value. 

Here is a list of free and low-cost employee perks that can suit a variety of organizations:

  • Casual Dress: It comes at zero added costs to allow employees to dress casually and comfortably while in the workplace. Some organizations have an informal dress policy while others may be more formal and offer casual Fridays. 

  • Summer Fridays: Offering a shortened work schedule on Fridays can be a selling point for job candidates, and current employees will likely appreciate the added time to their weekends. 

  • Company Outings: Hosting a work-sponsored outing such as a Friday afternoon picnic in a local park, team lunch, or happy hour after work can help build community among colleagues.

  • Trivia Nights: Team trivia is a great time to get to know other employees outside of the office. Better community among employees can increase the overall company culture.

  • Local Event Tickets: Offering tickets to a local event can encourage employees to get out and enjoy the city. This can boost productivity and energy in the workplace.

  • Company-Provided Coffee: Offer your employees coffee from a local vendor one day a week to get the day started strong. Employees will always appreciate a free cup of joe.

  • 1:1 Meetings: Offering your employees a chance to meet with their manager once a week to discuss their work can ease stress and anxiety over any issues they may be having. Regular communication is crucial to a positive work environment.

  • Provided Lunch: Providing lunch once in a while can improve team morale and energize the office. Depending on your budget, this could be once a week or even once a month.

  • Gift Cards: Providing employees with a gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant can be a great way to show that you are looking out for their well-being, increasing positive energy within the office. 

  • Unlimited PTO: One great way to offer employees a no-added-cost perk is to provide them with unlimited PTO. Generous PTO offerings can boost employee productivity and reduce work-related anxieties...when it’s done right

  • Remote Work Flexibility: Offering the flexibility to work remotely on occasion can be a huge benefit for employees. Many may appreciate the opportunity to work from home as needed under certain circumstances. 

With so many little-to-no-cost perk options, every organization should consider a benefits plan to incorporate employee perks. It is critical in the modern workplace to focus efforts on employee morale and company culture. 

Skimping on added benefits may cause you to miss out on employees who opted for an organization with better benefits offerings. And when your retention rates dip due to a poor benefits selection, your recruiting efforts will likely suffer, putting you steps behind other employers. 

By choosing perks that cause no added financial stress, you can increase productivity, retention, recruitment, competitiveness, and company culture while staying within your allocated budget. 


Additional Resources

You can also stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with employee perks and other important topics by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news

  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance

  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit

  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

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