4 Budget-Friendly Employee Perks To Keep Your Team Happy

Derek Jones, Contributor, Deputy

When it comes to workplace effectiveness, stress and unhappiness are the enemies. Employees under your care live better lives and do a better job when they’re happy. Stress leads to indecisiveness, negativity, burnout, and other issues that can cripple your team.  

According to the American Institute of Stress, US businesses lose 300 billion dollars yearly to stress alone. Makes you wonder what you can do to avoid this number going any higher, right? Well, we’ve lined up the best affordable perks that work - ones that will keep everyone on your team happy and healthy. 

Health and Wellness Programs & Benefits

Health and wellness programs have become a staple of larger corporate culture for a reason, but looking from the outside they can seem incredibly expensive to implement. Honestly, the overhead of health and wellness programs does vary. Some options, such as accountability teams, only cost time, while others - like gym memberships - have direct monetary overhead. That said, even the more expensive options can save you money in the long run.

Ignoring the fact that savings from lower health insurance premiums tend to match or exceed the expense of a wellness program, there are also other benefits to your business beyond the perceived value to your team. Wellness initiatives lead to less stressed and more productive teams. 

One of the largest companies in the world, Shopify, offers all of their employees a $5,000 wellness spending account that they can use for gym memberships, health products, stress relief, and more. This is an extreme example of a wellness initiative, but if they’re willing to spend so much on each employee it obviously pays off.

Especially with a larger team, a wellness program can seem incredibly intimidating to implement, but it’s honestly not. Wellness benefit services like League, Peerfit, and Gympass can manage everything for you without really increasing the overhead cost. The implementation tools listed above are just a part of what makes Health and Wellness Programs so efficient and beneficial. A caveat is that these services, however, is that they are narrowly focused on the wellness category.

Additional or Flexible Vacation Times

The United States is severely lagging behind the developed world in terms of paid leave; workers in most other developed countries get significantly more paid time off with absence being due to several different reasons. This missing vacation time is a bad indicator, especially because vacation - or simply time away from work - provides a strong and immediate impact on the molecular networks associated with stress. 

In the end, adding additional vacation time to your team’s schedules is a simple process, and is something you should consider providing for all employees. One of the most impactful things you can do with these extra days is to use them as a reward for team or personal accomplishments. 

In the end, if you offer someone an extra vacation day, or just a paid day off during the week, it is often appreciated more and feels like a more sincere thank you than an equivalent monetary bonus.

Aside from offering more time, making your employees' vacation times easier to book and manage can be a huge benefit to them. Letting your employees know in advance which days they are off will help them manage and plan their personal time better, giving them autonomy and creating a symbiosis with your HR team. 

Accurate Time Management and Scheduling Access

It might seem like a small benefit to offer your employees, but making sure they have proper access to their schedules - and that they know which tasks are lined up for them - is actually a huge benefit. 

Working on a larger project, like a website redesign or store remodel, means working with a proper schedule so employees have a clear understanding of tasks, strategy, and goals, and how to meet expectations. Keeping track of the timeline can help your employees stay focused on and aligned with project deadlines and desired results. 

Within the website redesign example, it can be easy for designers to feel disconnected from the coders who feel disconnected from the copy-editors. They can all do their part of the work in their respective bubbles, but it’s hard to be confident about where they fit in or when the job will be done. 

Time management and efficient scheduling ensure that you can celebrate successes together with your employees. When your team knows exactly what steps they need to take to benefit from the project, they feel like they have control over their work - and motivated workers stand to benefit even more from their work being recognized and appreciated. 

With large projects, it can be easy for employees to get lost in the tide of a job that feels bigger than they can handle. But, regardless of team size, scheduling can be a big game-changer for your team. 

2020 was a huge stress on everyone in the business world, from managers to employees. If you have a more experienced full-time team, one thing you can consider as a serious reward is flexible work hours for your teams. It can be a small operational change that doesn’t break the bank, plus it allows employees the flexibility they need for a healthier work-life balance (like being able to come in two hours later and leave later, as well).

Flexitime helps your employees take care of their families or themselves when they need to, which takes a lot of outside pressure off of them so they can focus at work. An added benefit is that you also get to see people at the best parts of their day. For example, instead of groggy morning hours from the team night owl, you can have them working later into the evening when they’re doing their best work. 

As mentioned above, this is better to implement within more experienced teams. The added flexibility comes with a lot of personal responsibility, but if you have a team that can strike that balance they will appreciate it and be better for it. 

If this all seems a little intimidating, then the best thing to do is get entrenched in and work with specialized scheduling software. Take the time to learn more about scheduling software, and you’ll see that it’s surprisingly easy to offer your employees incredible flexibility and understanding. 

Discounts on Your Business

This benefit might seem obvious, but it’s something that is often overlooked and can result in disengaged employees. If you offer your employees a generous discount, you can still easily break even on the product they are buying and using. They will feel like they are appreciated and getting a good deal without a negative impact on your bottom line.

This has the additional benefit of getting your team excited about your product. Your best customers are your employees. If you have a team of regular users and fans of your products, they will be much more engaged in projects and will work towards the benefit of the product. This can even extend to discounts for friends and family. 

All of these options are great employee engagement ideas that have almost no direct overhead cost and ensure that your employees are invested in your product line and offerings. An example of this is makeup giant Sephora, which offers employees a 40% discount on their in-house lines and a 20% flat discount on everything else (30% around Christmas.) This encourages employees to shop from Sephora and use the products they carry, which, in turn, is why their makeup team is so knowledgeable. 

All in all, one of the best ways to keep your team happy, as these options show, is being clear and trying to help them balance their lives with your business’s needs. Oftentimes thousands of dollars are spent inefficiently on one-size-fits-all employee perks that don’t address the unique wants and needs of your diverse employee population. Focusing on maintaining a healthy balance and offering personalized perks that show that you value working with your team will result in higher engagement, happier employees, and satisfied finance teams (because it won’t break the bank).

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