Friday, August 23, 2013

Your Business is Small: Use This to Your Advantage When Considering Benefits

As a small business owner, you may not be making as much money as the big dogs, but you are certainly more versatile. It's simply easier for a company that has less product, less demand, and less of a workforce to adapt than it is for businesses with a big footprint--this is one of the best advantages that smaller companies have over corporate giants. As proof of this factor, many owners have become creative with employee benefits, often maintaining and retaining quality employees and sometimes picking up new customers along the way.

For instance, some companies offer employees a week of paid time off so that they can volunteer. This is an incredibly intelligent move. Even though it may seem contrary to the idea of making profit because it costs the company for labor that isn't happening, it can be extremely beneficial for all involved parties. Volunteering can be very refreshing for an individual and it can be really enlightening, as well. Lessons learned can be brought back into the workplace once the person returns from their "vacation." In addition to this, the company's public image becomes even stronger than it was because it is paying its employees to give back to the community--such a benefit is a win-win-win for business owners, employees, and nonprofit organizations.

Another benefit that a corporate conglomerate cannot provide to its workers is the ability to bring pets into the office. In some cases, these may be the owner's animals--at the office where my roommates are employed, the owners' dogs are always there. Allowing employees to bring their pets to work from time to time can give workers a change of pace that prevents labor from going stale. Obviously, this wouldn't work in a manufacturing center and would probably be more ideal if your employees were desk-centric. Companies that do this often have a catch though: No pooping in the office and no animals that are irregularly loud.

Some companies encourage their employees to bicycle to work.  Whether this encouragement comes in the form of installing a bicycle rack or offering a reduction in health care premium costs for the additional exercise depends on the budget and outlook of the employer.  However, a study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that active, physically fit employees have lower rates of absenteeism.  So a monetary incentive for biking or walking to work might pay off for businesses.

Maybe your dog will learn some new tricks while at the office | Courtesy of
My favorite benefit is this one though: The company picks a certain day of the week--Friday, perhaps?--and purchases beer for everyone. In case you don't know, I'm an avid beer drinker and this perk sounds too good to be true. Basically, employers let their workers drink while on duty or on lunch--within reason--and it tends to keep morale higher than normal, often making the end of the week even more enjoyable than it already is with the weekend around the corner. This is another perk that has its hang-ups, though: Some people may not want to consume alcohol or may disapprove of the behavior. Giving alcohol to your employees may also be a very bad idea in certain industries--in other words, use your best judgment before implementing this.

Providing any of these perks would either be too complicated, too messy, or too expensive for any major business to pull off. So instead of letting your employees disappear into the corporate cracks of your market, consider implementing some cool benefits. Remember that customers hear about how employees are treated and some may cease their patronage if your employees are not treated well. Adding more positives to the pros vs. cons list for these benefits is the fact that similarly-minded customers may decide to shop with you instead of your competitors because you treat your workers with dignity and respect. Remember that your size is an advantage in this regard and that flexibility is key to achieving success.

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