Do you want to provide employee perks to boost morale, but you just can’t find room in your budget? Providing great incentives and perks can lead to much happier employees and studies show happier employees tend to be more productive and loyal. You can increase talent retention if you simply make an effort to boost your employees’ morale.
However, many small business owners face budget crunch and may not have the extra money for incentive programs, even if they feel they’re worthwhile. The good news is you don’t always have to make extra room in the budget to keep your employees happy. In fact, a little creativity goes a long way in helping to develop some pretty fun incentives that don’t involve extra cash. Here are six ideas to get you started.
- Offer More Vacation Time or Half-Days
One incentive your employees are sure to appreciate is time off. In fact, Monster found in a study that job seekers and employees favored vacation time even more than pay raises and a retirement plan. You can award staff with extra vacation days or even half days if you can’t do without them for a full workday. It can also help increase your staff’s productivity. For example, you can give a vacation day to your sales staff when they reach a certain number of sales each quarter. You can also offer your employees a day off for special occasions, like their birthday.
- Choose a Flavor of the Month
Maybe you buy a certain amount of groceries every week for your staff. One of your incentives can be letting an employee choose his or her favorite drink or snack to be on the grocery list for that week. You can set this up as a rotating schedule, where each employee gets a chance to choose the refreshments for the week. Or you can institute this as a reward for outstanding performance, such as part of an “employee of the month” reward. You won’t be spending more money; you’ll just be allotting part of the grocery budget to their preference.
- Provide Time off to Exercise
Fitness is important to the overall health of your business. In fact, employees who are in good health tend to take fewer sick days and are more productive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can incentivize healthy decisions even if you can’t afford to comp a gym membership. One idea is to offer employees an extra half hour for their lunch, as long as they use it to participate in a physical activity. If you have an employee who’s a fitness instructor, you might give him or her the opportunity to teach a class at work. Of course, before you do this type of idea, make sure you chat with your business’s attorney and cover any possible liability. For example, you might require employees to sign a waiver before taking part in on-site fitness classes.
- Build Their Own Game Room
If you have an extra conference room you’re not using or a nice bit of green grass behind your office, why not let your employees create their own space? For example, they could contribute their own supplies to build a small putting green out back or an entertainment room inside. Some employees might prefer a relaxation room — they could supply a plug-in fountain, candles and beanbag chairs. They can design the space, as long as they also contribute the supplies. The key is that you’re letting your employees choose the theme. In turn, you give them free time to relax in their safe space if they feel too stressed and need to clear their minds.
- Strategize Outside
When you need to do a training meeting or a brainstorming session, leave the drab environment of the office behind. Take your employees to a nearby park or the beach instead and let them strategize in the fresh air. This can boost creativity, too.
- Host a Puppy Day
Nothing boosts spirits quite like a fuzzy, happy animal. Forbes suggests hosting a “puppy day” once a month, where employees bring their dogs to frolic in the office. This is an absolutely free way to have a little fun-building morale.
There are a lot of ways that you can offer free incentives that also boost employee morale. From vacation time and entertainment rooms to puppy days, all you need is a little creativity to find the perfect perk for your staff. Today, take some time to brainstorm free ideas your staff might enjoy. You may even consider hosting an informal, anonymous survey to see which idea your employees like the best.
Do you have ideas for fun and free employee perks that we didn’t list? Tell us on Twitter!