Proving that size does not matter in giving competitive employee perks
Such are the famous last words of too many small business owners as they defer providing oft-requested benefits for their employees. And indeed, certain perks would entail considerable monetary investment or structural change. Continuing education support or employee stock options are great benefits but they require investment and multi-layered policy-setting.
However, this in no way means that high-impact benefits are out-of-reach for small and micro-businesses. Because of the changes in the cultural landscape and the new tools made available, your small team of five can enjoy relevant perks that could make them say they absolutely love where they work.
These employee benefits strategies either cost little or nothing but have been proven to deliver a high level of satisfaction in employees across workforce demographics. But as a thing of note, they would demand a mindset shift for management, a rethinking of what the company’s culture truly deems important. Culture, after all, is the starting point of every successful employee benefits framework.
Big Benefit 1: Flex Your Productivity Muscle
Flexible working hours, work-from-home, four-day workweek or a results-oriented work environment; these no longer just belong in the employee handbook of zany tech startups. More and more companies are seeing the desirability and feasibility of flexible work options. Your small business should consider it, of course taking into account the operational needs. But a valuable characteristic of small companies is their agility; yours could very well allow any of these flexible policies to be implementable.
Flexible work is now understood as being less about giving your employees a free-pass; now, it is more about giving them enough autonomy to work when and where they are most productive. Based on a leading study of workplace satisfaction, trust is the name of the game in terms of increasing a sense of ownership and enthusiasm. And there are a few subtle ways to show your employees that you trust their work ethic; like simply giving them the freedom on when to clock in and show up in the office space.
Quick tips for implementing flexible work options:
1. Have a shared calendar specifically for flexible work scheduling to support visibility and transparency.
3. Consider making flexible work a benefit only for permanent staff. New hires can still be governed by core work hours, as their first few months are all about confirming their fit for your work culture. As they prove their fit and settle into the team, give them flexible work options to enjoy.
4. While enjoying flexible work, each employee needs to be clear about what she or he needs to deliver. If the number of hours clocked in is no longer a work metric, more indicative measures that actually impact the business should be. Having a growth-focused continuous performance management system helps in this.
Big Benefit 2: It’s All in the Family
Why do your employees work? Some do to fund their travels, some to save enough money for retirement; however, a huge majority work to provide for their families. It makes perfect sense to give them work perks that also directly benefit who they work for.
The simplest way to give a high-impact family-friendly benefit is to offer paid family leaves. This doesn’t just allow your employees to attend their kids’ parent-child camp. Paid family leave has been long proven to positively impact child health and development. Because of the lasting effect of this work policy in the basic unit of society, it has even been touted to contribute immensely to community-building.
You can find several categories under the umbrella of family leaves and customise based on your small team’s composition. Here are some thoughts as you plan on providing for your employees’ valuable family time:
Notes on implementing paid family leaves:
1. Consider the relevance of paid aternity leave. Younger, millennial fathers are becoming more and more hands-on in child-rearing. Allowing them paid time to settle into their new role makes you a partner in supporting their new family’s future. This could potentially make them more motivated when they return to work knowing they are with an ally, you and your company.
2. Eldercare or spousal care leaves are a thing. Just because the family member in need is not a child does not mean your employee’s paid time won’t have a big impact. You can broaden paid family leave benefits to give your single employees the allowance to assist their parents. The peace of mind your employees get knowing their employer supports time for family has a huge impact on their mental well-being and productivity at work.
3. In general, offer family care leaves above what is required and paid for by the government. This will differentiate your company benefits policy and make your workplace more desirable than the other one next door.
Big Benefit 3: Address the Pain
The medical concerns of your employees, whether acute or chronic, are serious business. A medical burden can become a financial burden, which could potentially evolve into a mental wellness burden. Addressing the physical pain of your employees right at the onset is an incredibly affecting policy.
Covering for employees’ medical needs has long been applied in workplaces across the globe. It has the reputation of being the most expensive employee benefit around. However, there are products and policies that help lower the cost, ease the implementation and optimise the spending for medical employee benefits.
Cost-efficient methods for employee medical benefits:
1. Prevention is still better than cure. As your employees adopt a healthy lifestyle, their risk for debilitating illnesses decrease. Make standing desks available in your workplace and be in step with a growing majority of companies who see this as a workplace wellness strategy. Provide gym membership subsidies and make healthy snacks available. These are simple, affordable and sustainable ways to get your employees moving and more healthy.
2. Make primary care more accessible. This is coverage for when your employees catch the flu, have allergies or if they unfortunately get food poisoning. Neither a convetional hospitalisation benefit nor work-related injury insurance would cover them. These instances, however, happen a lot more frequently and could easily cost your employees more than $50 for a single visit to the doctor. While oupatient medical insurance is typically a rider plan to group health benefits, there are stand alone plans such as Sinclair that enable mcro and small business owners cover the GP visits of their employees in a convenient, affordable and worry-free way.
3. Provide dental benefits and differentiate. Customarily, dental benefits are merely seen as a nice-to-have due to the costs associated with them. But now you can give dental coverage cost-efficiently, also through Sinclair, and set your employee medical plan apart without breaking the bank.
4. Maximise government provisions. If your company is based and operating in Singapore, get acquainted with the government’s medical programs and ensure that what you offer your employees is not simply redundant or worse, a bad copy. Instead of rushing to give traditional hospitalisation and surgical benefits, consider subsidising your employees’ integrated shield plans, which can lead to cost-savings and lore long-lasting benefits to your employees.
Big Benefit 4: Thank God It’s Monday
A study reported that employees feel most unhappy on Mondays, at 11:15 AM. But you can turn the tables and rally your employees to feel better and even look forward to the start of the week. As your team grows to become more dynamic on Mondays, you can look forward to more vibrancy and productivity for the rest of the week.
Culture plays a huge part in this initiative, and also implies that you, must lead the charge and be at your best on a Monday. The discipline this requires, though, could only do great things for the business.
Exciting ways to fight the Monday blues:
1. Offer themed breakfasts on the first Monday of the month. Your team pushed hard the last month-end and whatever the result, kopitiam breakfasts on the first Monday of the month signals unity and camaraderie over shared meals.
2. Give spot awards. Recognise great work and admirable behaviour in your team and give special perks on a Monday. The perks need not be expensive, these could be movie tickets or a $10 voucher. But regularly giving it out on a Monday creates anticipation and good cheer just as the week starts.
The fact that you’re running a micro-business does not mean you cannot give competitive employee benefits that are sought-after by today’s workforce. Allowing flexible work options, giving paid family leave, providing robust outpatient medical coverage and making Mondays matter are policies that are relevant and realistic for small businesses to consider.
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