Have you noticed small businesses like yours offering more perks and started to wonder if you should do the same? While it’s true that employee benefits packages can help you attract and keep talent, you need to know which extras to offer your team. Otherwise, you’ll end up underwhelming your staff and wasting your money.

Here’s our list of modern employee benefits that small businesses like yours can offer. We’ve included the top twelve types, which business types and staff members they’re best suited to, and some tips for implementing them.

1. Early access to wages

An early cashout option has widespread appeal. Letting your staff receive a portion of their wages before payday gives them the flexibility to deal with unexpected expenses like car trouble or burst water pipes more easily.

Homebase offers a cash out feature as part of its platform. That means your employees can withdraw up to $250 in advance. The app then automatically withdraws that amount from their bank account on payday. Signing up is easy, but the best part is that there are no hidden fees, credit checks, or interest because it’s not a payday loan and doesn’t cost you anything — it’s simply a hassle-free benefit. 

2. Health benefits and other alternatives

Many workers worry about how they’re increasingly responsible for the cost of healthcare instead of employers paying it themselves. This can be especially expensive for employees with young children or elderly family members who have a greater risk of health issues and high medical costs.

Offering better, wider, or more modern health insurance can differentiate your business from competitors. This perk can give your employees more security and lets them seek treatment sooner before minor issues become larger concerns.

But you don’t have to focus on buying the best insurance. Here are some other examples of job benefits that let you take care of employee health:

  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): Using a third-party company, deposit pre-tax funds into HRAs that your workers can then use for out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance premiums. Other than giving you tax advantages, HRAs are also cheaper than group health insurance. They can also be used in tandem with any existing plans you may offer. 
  • Vision and dental: Many insurance plans don’t cover eye tests or trips to the dentist, but these may be your team’s main medical expenses. Your employees will appreciate this perk and it’s good for your business if everyone with visual problems has up-to-date prescriptions — they need to be able to see what they’re doing!
  • Extra sick leave: Offering a generous sick leave plan is a cost-effective way to give your team time off to not only care for themselves but also sick family members.
  • Gym memberships: Subsidize or pay for subscriptions to nearby fitness centers or try arranging a deal with a nearby gym so their employees get a discount at your business, too.
  • Office fitness classes: If you or another team member has fitness experience in a discipline like yoga, pilates, or Zumba, your business could offer fun exercise classes at the start of shifts or after hours.
  • Exercise breaks: Let people de-stress in the middle of the day by letting them take an hour off to work out, run, or go for a stroll.

3. Mental health resources

Mental health is a high priority for 50% of employees, according to Mercer’s 2021 Health on Demand report. The same report said 42% of employees are more likely to stay at their current job because of mental health benefits.

You can promote mental well-being among your employees in many ways. Here are just a few of the most popular:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs connect your team members with resources for managing stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. They cost around $12 to $40 per employee annually. You can use this guide from the US Chamber of Commerce to set them up.
  • Coaching or counseling: Platforms like Oliva, BetterUp, and Talkspace can offer your staff members online sessions with mental health experts.
  • Mental health days: Everyone goes through a stressful period in their lives now and again, and they may need a day to recuperate. Any staff that struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues will especially benefit from days to rest or seek support.
  • Mental health training for managers: Specialized training can help your managers learn techniques that promote mental well-being in the workplace.

4. Flexible work times

If you have a business where staff aren’t required on the premises at all times, you can offer your staff flexible work times. That means you can allow team members to come in anytime during a specific range of hours as long as they put in a full workday. So if you run an auto repair shop where customers only drop cars off, you could let your staff choose whether to work early or late shifts. 

You could also consider making your staff’s positions task-based instead of time-based. That means only requiring them to come in and complete their tasks for the day, however long or short it takes. When they’re done, they can leave without causing problems for your business. This would work for businesses like salons and spas when tasks like haircuts and treatments may differ in length.

Flexible work hours are a popular perk for 18 to 30-year-olds who are more likely to be juggling school and work or have very young children.

5. Holiday time off

If your business slows down during periods like Christmas or Easter, consider shutting down for a few days instead of scrambling to find people who are willing to work. Productivity tends to go down anyway as your workers think about their holiday plans.

Closing down for holiday periods won’t only save you money on utilities and wages, but can also earn you the gratitude of your employees who have more time to prepare for the festivities, rest, and see their families.

Before you offer this perk, ask your staff how they feel about it. If you get an enthusiastic reaction about having extra time off over the holidays, you may see a surge in productivity after your team members return from holiday relaxed and recharged. But if they would have preferred to work over the holidays and earn some extra money, they may be resentful.

Pro tip: If your business is open during important celebrations or events like the New Year’s Eve countdown or election results, stop service for 15 minutes to let your employees participate. They’ll appreciate the thought and may feel less like they’re missing out. Just give your customers a warning and explain why. 

6. Volunteer days

Allowing your team to take a day off every year to volunteer can help boost morale and get them more involved in your local community. Plus, there are so many options that you can tailor your volunteering initiatives to your business. If you’ve got a shop, you could auction off your products for charity. Or if you’re a mechanic, you could offer free classes or mentoring programs for underprivileged groups. Here are some additional ideas you could try out:

  • Sponsored sports events
  • Environmental activities like community clean-ups
  • Auctions and food drives
  • Offering your services pro bono for a good cause
  • Mentoring and teaching classes

7. Rewards for great performance

One of the simplest ways you can support your employees is by giving them public praise. This signals you notice their efforts and care about the work they’re doing. But you can elevate this even further by rewarding your employees for good performance, too.

Consider posting your praise on your work chat or social media. Homebase’s shoutout feature lets you post praise for an employee’s good work on the app dashboard where everyone can see it. You can then accompany the acknowledgment with a reward like time off, a free meal, or bonus pay. Always be specific, so everyone knows what to do to get the reward. For example, instead of saying someone did a good job, specify that they helped increase sales by 30% in the past month. 

Another great way to reward great performance is to set up a bonus payroll. This is when you offer your team extra pay for good work. For example, you can offer an annual performance bonus in December on top of your staff’s regular wages or award extra pay throughout the year for achievements like exceeding sales targets.

8. Career development plans

PeopleKeep’s 2022 Benefits Survey Report revealed that around 72% of 18 to 41-year-olds consider professional development very important. And 62% of those in the 42-57 age range agreed with that as well. That means career development plans are something you can use to appeal to employees of all ages.

Try offering some of the following career development benefits:

  • Employee development programs: Set up a training program that helps identify goals and builds a path to help achieve them. You can help your staff hone the skills they need for the job, develop a niche skill set, or train to become a member of management.
  • Personal development funds: Employees can spend personal development stipends on training activities or courses. More and more employers are offering benefits like these!
  • Employee-led initiatives: Sometimes employees may be happy to run training themselves. You can help your staff set up activities like book clubs or classes that show them how to improve at their jobs. Leading training sessions can look great on their resumes too. This article from Persnickety Prints may provide some inspiration.
  • Online courses: Subscribe to popular e-learning courses and give your employees the chance to sign up. Udemy and Coursera are some popular choices.

9. Free food and drink

Keeping a small pantry or kitchen at your business can satisfy cravings for food or drink during a long workday. You can keep it well-stocked with free coffee, tea, and healthy snacks at minimal cost to you. And if you’re a cafe or restaurant, you can even offer your employees a certain amount of free food and drink or discounts on these.

When you don’t have a kitchen or fridge on site, another option is to partner up with nearby businesses for discounts. Many shops and restaurants will deliver to your workplace even if it’s a construction site or outdoor venue.

This perk comes with many benefits to your business. Employees don’t have to leave their workplace when they feel hungry or thirsty and it encourages healthy habits. You may also discover that employee productivity stays more constant when employees have access to drinks and snacks, especially toward the end of your team’s shifts.

You can expand on this idea by throwing in a free lunch every once in a while and inviting all your staff to attend. Ask your team members to vote on where they’d like to eat to make everyone feel more involved. On big occasions like holiday parties or business anniversaries, you can accommodate family and friends, too.

10. Help with tuition

If many employees don’t have degrees, see if they’d be interested in going to college part-time. Further education could improve their knowledge and skills, help them become more effective at their jobs, and broaden their career horizons.

Plus, it’s a win-win situation for your team and your business. It’s more financially viable for employees to keep working for you and study part-time instead of quitting to join a full-time course, so you won’t lose a valuable employee.

But help with tuition is a costly perk. Make sure your team are invested in the idea and be clear about how much you can contribute toward their classes.

11. Paid and parental leave policies

Most of the US workforce are parents, but surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that only 23% of employees have access to paid parental leave. So you could make your business stand out to top candidates by making this perk part of your employee benefits program.

You can create a parental leave fund for employees by using and extending a state disability insurance program. Basically, employees pay a percentage of their paycheck into these funds every month. Once they want to take parental leave, they can claim wage replacement for around two-thirds of their normal pay.

Whatever you choose to offer, don’t get confused between employee benefits and rights. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), small businesses with over 50 employees must provide 12 weeks of parental leave to employees who meet the right conditions. 

12. Retirement benefits

PeopleKeep also found that employees of all ages think retirement plans are very important. And they’re an attractive perk for business owners too. If you match your staff’s contributions up to a certain limit, you may be entitled to tax deductions. In addition, starting a plan may also reduce the amount of tax you owe.

But don’t worry too much about the details. Many third-party companies can set up a retirement plan for your business.

Manage employee benefits packages with Homebase

There’s no question that small businesses need to offer benefits to attract and keep their people happy. But you need to think carefully about which employee benefits programs suit your team and your business without breaking the bank.

Once that’s out of the way, there’s also the challenge of managing your benefits. Homebase has a variety of features that can help any small business owner do that. To keep employees happy, use our early cashout feature to give staff access to quick cash in case any emergency expenses come up. Try our shoutout feature to praise and reward them. Discover how our scheduling tool automation features make handling paid time off easier. And best of all, you can use our team of HR experts to make sure any insurance, paid time off, or bonuses you offer comply with state and federal law.