3 Quick Ways to Make Your Small Business Employee Benefits Stand Out

These days, small businesses face a tough job market as many struggle to maintain the minimum staff to keep their door open.

Meanwhile, large corporations like Amazon and Netflix are launching never-before-heard-of programs and incentives to bring in and retain strong talent. Everything from 30-hour work weeks and annual travel stipends to increased parental leave for both parents.

Even though some of these lucrative benefits and incentives are not viable for many small businesses, having quality candidates who meet their needs remains critical. The good news is there are many ways to increase employee satisfaction and retention without busting the budget.

Here are a few factors that can make or break a job-seekers decision when looking for a new job or deciding whether to stick with their current one.

Ask for (and listen to) Feedback

Employees want and need to be heard. Attracting and retaining top-level employees requires the ability to both ask for feedback, actively listen to it, and offer it in return.

Good leaders welcome their team member's feedback, even negative, and then use that feedback to find a positive resolution.

Employee feedback is valuable in helping your company make necessary changes and maintain focus on growth. The ability to offer input also improves employee engagement and contributes to their sense of purpose.

From a leadership perspective, giving quality feedback is as important as receiving it. Feedback to your team members should be:

  • Specific – This is no time for vague generalities. Feedback should be focused on a particular issue and backed up with corresponding evidence.
  • Actionable – "Do better" is not feedback. Make sure you offer tangible ways to improve, along with clear (preferably step-by-step) goals.
  • Frequent – While you don't want to fall into the habit of micro-managing, good leaders check back often and redirect as needed. Allowing things to get too far off course with a hands-off approach is not only bad for business, but it's demoralizing to staff who thought they were doing the job correctly.

Recognize a Job Well Done

Exceptional work does not have to be the exception. A great leader understands what motivates their team members and how best to recognize, encourage, and reward in ways that inspire them. Bonus: It's not a budget buster. Here are some ideas to help jumpstart your own:

  • Give a heartfelt and meaningful shout out on social media
  • Provide time away to recharge and a chance to refresh
  • A handwritten note to share how much you appreciate their work and effort
  • Celebrating milestones such as work anniversaries and birthdays

While meeting goals and deadlines are critical to success, so is a positive workspace and happy, motivated staff.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we're able to work from anywhere.

It may seem beneficial for businesses, be careful as it could backfire quickly.

When our work-life balance is out of balance, it can lead to resentment, apathy, and eventually burnout. A good employer understands the importance of balance with their staff and maintains clear expectations on acceptable work hours, individual responsibilities, and workload.

While work-life balance isn't something that an employer can take full responsibility for, there are plenty of opportunities to assist employees in achieving a level of balance that helps them stay more connected to their families and their life outside of the office.

Some perks that could help you stand out as an employer might include:

  • Flexible shifts/workdays and work from home opportunities
  • Management goals that focus on productivity rather than hours
  • Encourage longer/more frequent breaks
  • Striving for work-life balance yourself (leading by example)
  • Offering employees paid or unpaid time for volunteer opportunities
  • Increased family leave for both parents

Regardless of the specific benefits you offer, a balanced work-life results in a happier, more satisfied, and productive staff. And doing so promotes employee loyalty and retention.

While there's no arguing that a significant raise tends to have a powerful and positive effect on employee motivation (even assuming your business can afford it), it can be detrimental to this balance. 

In the long term, it's far more productive to have an employee who feels valued by their company while maintaining a fulfilling personal life.

Great leaders understand that there is no better investment they can make in their company than maintaining a happy and thriving staff.

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