Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngTech companies are well-known for offering some of the best employee benefit plans. Why? Because they know that to attract and retain the best and the brightest, they need to be a place where people want to work.


Take Facebook for instance. The number of benefits offered by the social media giant is too long to list here, but the highlights include:


  • Financial: Pension and retirement plans; performance bonuses; stock options, charitable gift matching.
  • Insurance: Full health (including vision and dental); life and disability insurance; mental health; on-site healthcare.
  • Family: Flex-time; maternity and paternity leave; onsite childcare.
  • Vacation: Paid vacation; volunteer time off; sabbaticals.
  • Other perks: Free food; gym memberships; pet friendly; tuition assistance.


Fairly amazing, right?




That said, of course we all know that owning a small business means operating under a tight budget, but what we don’t all know is providing a solid benefits package to your staff does not have to break the bank.


You may not be able to afford all the perks Facebook does, however you can probably offer more than you think.


At face value, it is certainly easier – and less expensive – to simply give your employees their regular paycheck and required worker’s comp insurance, but the truth is that providing benefits to your employees doesn’t cost, it pays.


There are plenty of advantages that come with providing extra benefits:


  • Good morale – Doing more than the bare minimum for your hardworking staff is a great and easy way to establish mutual trust and respect. This makes for motivated employees who feel incentivized, thus producing higher quality work.
  • Staff retention – A result of the above also means a lower turnover rate and fewer hours and resources spent on training. In turn, you will get more experienced and trustworthy staff; all of which creates a very positive corporate culture.
  • Healthy employees – Giving your staff health insurance and vacation days will keep their bodies moving and their minds clear.
  • Top talent – Smart, capable, motivated people usually won’t settle for a company that doesn’t provide them with added benefits.




According to a National Federation of Independent Business poll, health insurance (61 percent), paid vacation (75 percent), and paid sick days (59 percent) are the most common employee benefits offered by small businesses. It is the extra things you offer that often make the biggest difference (and again, they do not need to cost a lot). Here are some examples:


Wellness programs: Things like gym access and incentivized fitness programs are very desirable, and as an added bonus, can help reduce your healthcare premiums.


Supplemental insurance: Life insurance, for example, is very affordable and a nice perk.


Flex-time: Allowing your team to job share for instance, or simply to work when and where they want, is an easy way to be a great employer.


Employee discounts: Being able to purchase your company’s product or service at a discount is another desirable bonus; employees will appreciate feeling like a valued member of the team with privileges.


Commuting help: Having access to a free parking spot can be very important for a lot of people. By the same token, being bike friendly is becoming more and more popular (and easy to do).


Family friendly: Speaking of being friendly, creating a pet-friendly workplace, or one where the kids are welcome to visit, is an easy way to endear yourself to your staff. By the same token, maternity and paternity leave (even unpaid) is a pretty easy way to up your benefits package.


Time off: Taking another cue from the Facebook employee benefits playbook, what about offering people time off to volunteer, or building in some three-day weekends into your scheduling?


The bottom line: Small businesses need to do whatever they can to attract and retain top talent. Being employee friendly by offering a great benefits package is a critical component to a successful business.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.


Web: or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

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