6 quirky job perks small business owners are using to attract top talent, from custom $1,200 suits to a gifted Peloton
- The increased desire to continue working from home can be a major benefit for small businesses.
- To poach top talent, small business owners are offering remote working perks and wellness incentives.
- For example, one CEO offers his employees a $150 monthly WFH stipend.
- This article is part of Talent Insider, a series containing expert advice to help small business owners tackle a range of hiring challenges.
From fully remote work to seemingly endless video conference calls, COVID-19 has no doubt changed the way we work over the last year.
And while its long-lasting effects remain to be seen, the increased desire to continue working from home post-pandemic has inspired many workers to consider more flexible workplaces — a trend that has businesses scrambling to compete for talent.
“You have the Silicon Valley companies who are paying for dry cleaning and massages,” said Million Dollar Baby Co. CEO Teddy Fong. “But if not done properly, those perks can be like a Trojan horse to get people to stay longer and just do more work.”
Instead, Fong opts for smaller, more thoughtful changes that can make big differences in the lives of his employees.
Here are seven unique benefit ideas from small business owners who have successfully recruited talent this year.
1. Give perks that align with your brand’s mission
A lot of companies provide their employees with two weeks of paid vacation, but how many of them actually pay their employees to take a vacation?
Million Dollar Baby Co. — known for their suite of baby furniture brands including DaVinci and Babyletto — is bringing new meaning to the phase “paid vacation.”
With nearly 150 employees between their office and warehouse, the family operation, run by its founder’s children, CEO Teddy Fong and VP of Sales Tracy Fong, offers employees a $700 annual subsidy toward any domestic trip.
The one caveat: After returning from a vacation, employees must present their learnings to the larger team (on Zoom of course).
“One team member recently spoke for 20 minutes about how the dolphins are trained in Mo’orea,” said Fong. “It was hilarious, and overly detailed. But moments like these bring our team so much closer together.”
2. Invest in employees and your business simultaneously
Two words: Custom suits.
Scott Kimberly runs a five-person law firm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, but takes his employees on an annual pilgrimage to Manhattan to visit a custom tailor, where each team member is gifted with a custom suit.
“It’s a win-win for me,” said Kimberly. “My employees both feel valued and exude confidence.”
Kimberly knows that while big firms may naturally attract more talent, those firms aren’t ponying up $1,200 for suits in the first year of employment.
“I’d like to think it makes my [team] feel like a million bucks and keeps them loyal to this brand instead of [considering] the big firms,” Kimberly said.
3. Make your benefits the talk of the town
Rachel Brenke is an attorney and business strategist who employs five full-time employees between her two companies, Eden Law and The Brenke Group LLC.
A cancer survivor, mother of five, and author of seven books, Brenke is no stranger to the importance of a balanced personal life — and her employee perks align to that value.
In addition to unlimited PTO, quarterly bonuses, and a retirement contribution plan, Brenke gifted her operations manager a Peloton for surpassing the company’s revenue goals in both Q4 2020 and 2020.
“As a mother of five and an athlete who loves to be out training, I know how important it is for a wholly virtual and flexible business,” Brenke said, adding that the Peloton gift supported her Operator Manager’s desire to pursue her own fitness journey.
Meanwhile, Scott Kimberly knows that the custom suits he buys for his staff get worn outside of work, too.
“I have no doubt that [my employees] proudly share where their suit came from,” he said: “From a boss that gives a damn about his employees and wants them to feel valued.”
“Make your workplace a place that your employees will brag about to their friends,” Kimberly said.
It’ll not only make your business look good, but it might also help you recruit more talent.
4. Make sure your benefits are on-brand
Go Text Blast, Inc. offered a remote work option to their six full-time employees long before the pandemic, but last year, they upped the ante, also giving their employees a $100 to $150 monthly work-from-home stipend.
“We’re a tech startup, so ensuring my developers’ [technology] is always up to speed was very important,” said Go Text Blast, Inc. CEO and chairman Matthew Payne, who also encourages employees to use the stipend on office supplies and internet services.
Cycling technology company Hammerhead also walks the talk — or, cycles the cycle.
Bianca Nedjar, the head of people at Hammerhead, told Business Insider the company offers its 40 employees a $900 annual athletic endeavor stipend (think: a marathon or wilderness survival hike), along with an additional $200 per year toward cycling equipment purchases and maintenance.
Whether its technology, fitness or something else that’s integrated into your company’s DNA — make sure your company benefits reflect the job at hand.
5. Think of the long haul
“68% of millennials consider fertility benefits when choosing an employer,” said Parham Zar, the founder and managing director of The Egg Donor & Surrogacy Institute in Beverly Hills, California.
And EDSI is taking note, covering 50% of the total cost of IVF and medication for their employees.
With the average IVF cycle costing $12,000 or more — and medication starting at $1,500 or more per cycle, the cost savings to their team are astronomical.
Miami-based law firm Mark Migdal & Hayden is also confident that family planning is top of mind for their employees.
The firm offers four months of 100% paid parental leave for any employee welcoming a child through birth, surrogacy, or adoption, also allowing employees to schedule the four months of leave at any time throughout a six-month period.
“Studies have shown that [parental leave] is not only advantageous for employees and businesses, but also for combating postpartum depression and boosting emotional development in children through parental bonding,” said MM&H founding partner Etan Mark.
Caring for your employees — especially when they’re not in the office — is paramount for long-term retention.
6. Ask the people what they want
It’s easy to make assumptions about what a potential employee might want from a benefits standpoint, but how many companies stop to ask?
Every six months, Million Dollar Baby Co. distributes an 80-question survey to their 150 employees to gauge their satisfaction levels at the company. In the age of COVID, those questions range from “Do you have a best friend at the company?” to “Do you feel you have enough face time with your team?”
“We don’t want to assume that an employee likes something just because we’re doing it,” said Fong. “We want to establish benefits that are actually beneficial to our employees.”
“And when you establish trust, I think you can get a lot of honest feedback.”