• Business planning and strategy

Employee perks: attracting employees for your start-up

Guest Blogger | June 19, 2013

Are you thinking about starting to grow your team? Many entrepreneurs are faced with the same challenges of finding ways to attract employees for their start-up, while staying lean and not breaking the bank. You can get creative with your approach to compensation by offering perks that can be appealing to your new hires. We explored different perks you can offer your staff and ways to start thinking differently about adding to your compensation structure.

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” – Anne M. Mulcahy (former CEO at Xerox)

Statements like the above lead one to question: How do you make an employee feel like a “whole person?” Perhaps it is in supporting a good work-life balance or delegating rewarding work assignments. Regardless of the answer, employee perks can play a significant role in making an employee feel appreciated and although some small perks may seem insignificant, they can make all the difference in boosting employee morale.

We conducted a survey of employees in various industries to analyze their current perks and their ideal of what should be offered. The survey data covered a range of employees from a start-up online magazine, to a marketing firm, and a large mining company. While these companies may not have much in common regarding the services they offer, they all have kept in mind the importance of employee perks.

Competitive compensation is a hot button topic in all organizations; however, a focus on “total compensation,” including intrinsic rewards such as perks, may be the key to reaching true employee satisfaction.

Here are some interesting perks we found that employers are currently offering:

  • Free breakfast essentials;
  • Year-end vacations – based on profit;
  • Corporate gym memberships;
  • Choice of office colour;
  • No dress code;
  • Yearly “healthy living credit”;
  • Commuting allowance;
  • Stock options for all employees;
  • Complete flex hours – option to work from home;
  • Beer fridge;
  • Company car for management;
  • Discount to Wonderland;
  • Christmas gifts;
  • Free housecleaning for employees every two weeks.

Below are some examples of companies that we felt especially stood out in regards to perks:

CAVE magazine, a start-up online magazine based in Toronto, has shown that regardless of the size of your company, making your employees feel appreciated is crucial. While covering many concerts and festivals, the magazine’s staff writers get backstage access and the unique opportunity to socialize with the recording artists they interview. This is an experience that many fans (who paid full price for tickets) do not get to be a part of. With this in mind, CAVE magazine continues to gain readership due to the productivity of their enthusiastic staff.

Another interesting perk is seen at OKD Marketing Group based in Burlington, Ontario. The employees at this company have a rather unique perk – the choice of painting their office any colour they wish! While this seems unusual, it allows for a productive workplace by enabling the employee to personalize their space. The firm also sends all their employees on various company-wide trips whenever a significant profit has been made by year-end. This truly makes the employee feel a link between their position and profitability, company-wide.

Vale Mining offers all their employees some very interesting perks such as discounts at various museums across the country, as well as to Wonderland – now that’s employee rewards! This perk is particularly special to the employees as it gives them a slight push to improving their work-life balance. Furthermore, the company engages the employees and provides a communal feel through holding monthly company-wide prize draws. Vale is an employer that has shown that employee engagement can improve satisfaction and in turn productivity.

While the above exemplar companies pave the way in regards to employee perks and their connection to morale and productivity, there is always room for improvement. When asked what their “dream” perk at a workplace would be, our survey participants gave some very interesting ideas compiled in the list below:

  • Company car for all employees;
  • Gas allowance/commuting allowance;
  • Full breakfast buffet;
  • Option to work in various company locations;
  • Option to job shadow a higher level employee;
  • Nap time / lounge area;
  • Dog friendly office space.

In innovative business, the employees must be inspired and satisfied in their jobs in order to provide outstanding output. Satisfaction and inspiration, as we have seen through the results of this survey, are indeed linked to perks in the workplace that raise one’s morale. In conclusion, as employee retention becomes crucial to an organization, so does its need to develop more cohesive “total compensation,” including unique perks. If an organization keeps its employees’ satisfaction at the forefront, it can lead to outstanding customer satisfaction and in turn profitability, as stated by Anne Mulcahy.

By Adam Gellert, Linkus Group, Toronto, ON, CYBF young entrepreneur