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We are often asked by businesses about what kind of perks or staff incentives they can offer their team to attract and retain the best people.  Many small and medium sized businesses feel they can’t compete with the big boys because they can’t offer the big salaries or bonuses that they can afford.

The truth is though, most people are not just motivated by money, and there are many other incentives – many of them at very little cost – that can make you stand out from other employers and attract staff.

Not all of them will be feasible or practical for every business, but here is our list of suggestions for things you could introduce to appeal to the staff you want:

  1. Flexible hours

If your model allows it, allowing staff to work flexitime or from home can be a real incentive, especially for those with children or commitments outside of work.

  1. Pets at work

Pets in the officeMore and more work spaces are allowing pets – safety permitting – and this can have a positive effect on morale. Also, if staff don’t have to race home at lunchtime or the end of the day to let the dog out, then are more likely to work through to put that unfinished job to bed.

  1. The Child Care Voucher Scheme

Make the most of this one as it closes to new entrants from April 2018, but it’s a great way to attract parents to your firm.  It’s a government approved salary sacrifice scheme in which parents can sacrifice part of their salary for an equivalent in vouchers, but whatever they sacrifice is tax free up to set limits.  These vouchers can then be used to pay any registered childcare providers including au-pairs and after school clubs.

  1. Casual dress

If your type of works allows it, have dress down days or allow casual office attire.  This can make all the difference if you have to travel to work on crowded public transport or like to go straight out from work, and will cost you nothing.

  1. Extra holiday time

Allowing staff to take extra unpaid leave to make that long-haul trip or honeymoon easier will cost you nothing other than arranging cover for them. Maybe give everyone the day off on their birthday? Or give long serving members of staff a paid sabbatical after a given term of service?  For many people time is more important than money.

Staff holiday

  1. Give that Friday Feeling

Allow casual dress on a Friday, bring in a bag of cookies, allow an extended lunch break, or let everyone finish early. Let everyone know that they are working throughout the week to a treat at the end of it.

  1. Have an office people want to come to work in

Not everyone will be able to afford huge changes or expensive renovations to a work space, but as best you can make it a place people would want to come to everyday.  Have a separate area that staff can relax and eat their lunch in away from their desks.  Make it bright and airy however you can, let as much light in as possible and decorate in bright neutral tones.  Coming from someone who once had a desk facing a dark grey wall in a room with no natural light I know how important this can be.

  1. Private health and dental insurance

This can be expensive in monetary terms, but can be a real incentive for staff.  Generally, businesses can get a better deal than if they go to providers rather than if staff do as individuals.  Should the worst happen and your staff need medical treatment, they will get seen far quicker and potentially return to work faster if they can get private treatment. Remember there will be a P11D benefit on the provision of this, so the employee will have to pay extra tax and the business will pay extra national insurance.

You could also consider a company car, a season travel ticket loan, staff discount on your products or services, company share scheme, a subsidised canteen or bring in a massage therapist once a month.

Little things can boost morale a great deal so think outside the box so your employees can say to their friends “oh we get (fill in the blank) at our office”– make it a place they are proud to talk about to others so you can attract the very best.