What fun and low-cost fringe benefits/perks would you offer to employees?


98

Let's face it. As startups, we can't really offer top-dollar salaries to our employees. But we can offer some fun benefits that the big companies can't/won't. Here are a few that we have that seem to be pretty popular:

  • Super flexibility - there's no "can I use four hours of my Personal Time Off to go renew my license" crap - just do what you gotta do, and make sure you get what you need to get done
  • Random Range Time - when the time seems right, we grab the clubs and head to the driving range; or, on other days, grab the guns and head to the firing range
  • The Scotch Library - over 50 single malts, perfect for the 6 o'clock Scotch
  • The Snack Budget - it's not much, but a few hundred bucks can buy a whoooole lot of soda and munchies

I was also thinking of buying one of those Arcade Legends machines and possibly a pool table. Not that we want to make it too fun, though...

So, what would you do? What fun benefits/perks do you have/give/love?

Employees Benefits

asked Oct 15 '09 at 12:20
Blank
Alex Papadimoulis
5,901 points
  • +1 great question – Jason 8 years ago
  • I'd work for you already! – Anthon 8 years ago
  • +1 for "Super flexibility". I still do not understand why most companies think the work has to be done between 8AM - 5PM and M-F. To me, as long as it gets done on time is fine. – Ricardo 8 years ago
  • Careful of the scotch bar, it can be a liability. If an employee has one and gets into an accident on the way home ... well, you know lawyers. – Tim Post 8 years ago
Add Comment

36 Answers


32

Our startup has an interesting concept, that works really for us. No formal vacation policy, no hard and fast rules on telecommuting or work hours. We ditched a traditional rule set, when we saw how well this system worked for another startup.

If you want time off, from a long lunch to a four week vacation, you work it out with your team of 2-4 people. If you want to telecommute, you just coordinate with your team to be sure the work gets done.

We've completely gone out of the business of managing bio-mass. Instead, we trust our people to strike a good balance between work and personal lives.

Surprisingly, I think people work harder under this system than in a traditional factory style 'Taylor' system.

From the point of view of the BoD this takes unpaid vacation off the books as a liability, so they are cool with it.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 04:38
Blank
Jim In Texas
218 points
Add Comment

29

Many of your employees are parents. And whether you like it or not, their families come first.

That being said, as a parent, you never want to lose a job that gives you parental freedoms to:

  • Adjust schedules as needed to pick up kids from school
  • Meet with teachers
  • Go to school events
  • Go to the kids' sporting events
  • Volunteer for field trips
  • Etc.
Understanding of a parent's needs is the biggest free perk you can offer.
answered Nov 8 '09 at 03:58
Blank
Ben Mc
421 points
Add Comment

25

More than snacks, lunch. It's not as expensive as it sounds (people don't expect sushi), you can leave Friday out of it (Fridays everyone goes to lunch out), and bringing lunch in actually cuts a lot of wasted time out of the day without anyone feeling like they're working more.

answered Oct 15 '09 at 13:02
Blank
Jason
16,241 points
  • Do you mean provide catered lunch? I thought I saw that the folks @ Fog Creek do this ("we always eat together"), but it always seemed a bit... hate to say it... cultish. Almost like, *you can't leave for lunch and you will eat with us when we say it's time* ;-). But I don't know, closest I've come to this is a place in the middle of nowhere that had a cafeteria with set hours (11A-1P). Have you heard good reactions from this? – Alex Papadimoulis 8 years ago
  • We just say that the company buys lunch if you're in the office, but of course you're free to leave! It's just usually easier to stay. Also for a lot of people it's the only time they really talk. – Jason 8 years ago
  • We do lunch 3 days a week and no one feels it's event the slightest cultish. – Pbreit 7 years ago
  • @Alex If the lunch is considered as a meeting, why not? Every good team player can schedule his business as per the minimum team rules. Its only that if it is the same schedule every day, it gets boring. Probably the meetings are with various groups on different days. Needs to be scheduled a day or two in advance to keep room for someone with other plans like going out. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • Google provides free lunches for their employees, and [I think] because of it, gets more productive days out of them (and probably gets to pay them less than a company across the street who doesn't do such - but that's pure speculation) – Warren 6 years ago
  • We get lunch (in the office) for everyone 5 days a week; people definitely like it. We used to go out every day, but at about 8-10 people that stopped working and at 16-20 people there aren't many places we can go that can manage that properly, so we order in. We use a service (labite.com) where we make individual orders, they place it with the restaurant, pick it up and deliver it to us. It costs a lot, but less than peoples time. – Ask Bjørn Hansen 5 years ago
Add Comment

22
  1. Freedom. 9-5 sucks and unless you are customer facing, makes little sense. Let me work from home, or come in 11-7, 7-3 etc. instead. I'll work harder / longer hours as a result.

    1.2. Don't watch the clock when I go to lunch / have a set lunch period. I'm an adult, I know if I'm late back I need to work later (assuming my workload requires it).

  2. Growth. Set aside a day to allow your programmers to work on personal (related) projects (a 'la Google), or to help building open source products (like Plone).
  3. Interest. So many big companies have great working conditions, but boring, demoralizing work. I know it pays the bills, but I don't really want to be working on flash based shampoo sites for the rest of my life. It's not particularly inspiring either.
  4. Reason. Give me shares or performance related benefits and I'm more likely to want it to succeed. Perhaps mix this with point 2 and offer to fund employees personal projects (for a decent share in return).
  5. Money. As long as the salary isn't taking the mickey this doesn't bother me that much. I'd go as far to say that getting the other points right, makes the salary worth twice as much in comparison to higher paying, less switched on companies
  6. Job security. Not always possible in a startup - but good funding plans help.
  7. People. Hire people who know what they are talking about. Don't forget that 1 bad one can cancel out the effects of many good ones (especially when they are further up the food chain).

Reproduced (with a few tweaks) from a blog post of mine that got me my current job!

(Since then I'd also add the 'own budget control' (which is via 37 Signals, Hanno. I saw it in a talk Jason Fried gave.) + 'buy lunch' - but they're both very dependent on funding - so not deal breakers)

answered Oct 29 '09 at 03:11
Blank
Jon Hadley
161 points
  • Personally I have never been a fan of starting work late, but often I end up doing it. I would love to be a regular early starter though. Most of all, I would like to not work longer, and keep work and play separate. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • A day for programmers to work on personal projects -- not sure how many startups would like this. Unless it is a company-backed policy, as in Google, it does not add any value to the company and instead acts as a distraction. Remember that Google can afford to have "Labs" and market it, but startups can't sell new innovations unless it is highly related to their project. The reason to work in a startup is to consider the startup as the personal project. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
Add Comment

18

I keep a list of those for when I eventually get to employ people at my current startup (soon, hopefully). Among the things not mentioned already is one of my favorites:

Self-managed budget / "Company pocket money": On your job, you're regularly going to want stuff like books, a new monitor, a USB-controlled nerf-rocket launcher, whatever. Get a company credit card for everybody and let them buy what they want. (I think I got that from 37signals)

I think this is great for various reasons:

  • It shows your trust in people.
  • It lets everybody help make the workplace great.
  • It shows people you care about what they want.
  • My guess would be that it costs a lot less than the amount you'd have to add to the salary to get a similar rewarding effect, I. e., my bet would be that it's a lot more fun to buy books for $50 on your company's credit card than having that $50 extra on your salary.

I would reckon that mutual trust and general decency put a sufficient bound on the amount people spend, so it would not have to be bounded explicitly.

answered Oct 15 '09 at 18:33
Blank
Hanno Fietz
280 points
  • We are doing that right now, everyone can buy book, licence for a tool or stuff like that without getting harassed :) I hated to not able to that when I was working for a company, definitely works. – The Dictator 8 years ago
Add Comment

18

Some of the things the company I'm at is doing right:

  • Free breakfast - Every day there is fresh bread, breakfast meats, fruits, juices, and pastries but there is something special about some days so that folks get variety. Some days there are eggs so you can make breakfast sandwiches, some days there are Pop-Tarts, there is a Salmon day, and Friday (oh delicious Friday) there are breakfast tacos.
  • Stocked Ice Cream Freezer
  • Multiple coffee machines - Traditional and the Keurig.
  • Breakroom Games - We have a pool table, foosball, and a 360 with an assortment of games.
  • Library - Stocked with a lot of interesting programming books, as well as some other light reading.
  • 401K Match - Pretty standard in an employee's eyes. It's not if there is a 401k match, it's how much.
  • Gym Discount - A lot more developers want to go to the gym nowadays.
  • Crunch Lunch - Ordering a decent lunch for everyone pays dividends when they'll stay at the office, take the 15 - 25 minutes to eat, and then get back to work.
  • Birthday Celebrations - The balance comes in the amount of people at the company, but cake always works.
answered Nov 7 '09 at 03:21
Blank
Chad Stewart
11 points
  • +1 for free breakfast. So relieving for the employees. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • breakfast tacos sounds pretty wicked – Patrickgamer 6 years ago
Add Comment

17

On the subject of Fog Creek's "cultish" lunches, I felt the same way before I joined the aforementioned cult. What they don't tell you is that lunch serves the same purpose that all those standing meetings serve at other companies. At Google, my standing meetings took 7-15 hours a week. At Fog Creek, it's 0.

The #1 perk you can offer an employee is no meetings.

answered Nov 6 '09 at 02:10
Blank
Rich Armstrong
151 points
  • Ah ha, that clears things up. "Disguise meetings as happy hour, lunch, etc"... I like it! – Alex Papadimoulis 8 years ago
Add Comment

15

The best perks are the ones that take a hassle in my life and make it go away.

  • Free lunch solves a problem: I no longer need to think about bringing a lunch, cash for lunch, budgeting for lunch etc.
  • Parking spaces mean I don't have to hunt for a spot when I am in a hurry to get to my desk.
  • Transit passes mean your employees can ride the train instead of fighting traffic
  • Personal tech budgets allow me to replace the gear I use everyday in a more timely manner without an appropriations hassle
  • Company backed loans mean I don't have to deal with banks,

... and so on.

Find the biggest headache for your people and make it go away.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 11:40
Blank
Rob Allen
631 points
  • Great point, and fantastic examples. Let me add another: A "personal admin" service to do things like get oil changes and pick up dry-cleaning. – Jason 7 years ago
  • @Jason - A Personal Admin/Concierge would be fan-freakin-tastic. Great addition. – Rob Allen 7 years ago
Add Comment

10

Give them the absolute best tools and environment to do their job even if it means overdoing it. The obvious example is for a software developer to get the 30" monitor, the fastest computer, etc.; but it can apply to other areas, e.g. Smartphones, whiteboards, chairs, etc. Not only will the employee appreciate the generosity, but it will probably make them more productive anyway. They'll also have an incentive to stick around since they know going somewhere else will likely mean a step backwards in terms of work environment.

Also, pay attention to the spouses/partners. They're just as affected by the long hours and lack of security so you can make everyone happier by giving them some perks, including having things done for them that are probably being neglected by the employee, e.g. Car washes, house cleaning, etc.

On the other hand, some people would just rather have the cash. Make sure you know which ones.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 13:23
Blank
Brian Deterling
984 points

9

A perk that worked well for us was paid volunteer time. We'd give employees up to 2 hours/week they could take off work (paid time) to volunteer with a local NFP.

Couches help too. You'd be surprised how inexpensive a second-hand couch can be.

answered Dec 1 '09 at 01:18
Blank
Joseph Fung
1,542 points
  • This is a great, low cost perk. A good start is 1 paid volunteer day annually. – Keith De Long 7 years ago
Add Comment

8

How about half-vacation or telecommuting time? You can make it as flexible or rigid as you want, but you basically say

Okay guys, you have your X days of vacation, but you also have Y days of work-out-of-the-office. We'd like you to put in a normal day, but you can do it from anywhere you like. Find a coworking place, put in your time, but feel free to do it from Madrid, Buenos Aires, or Miami.
You can treat it like vacation, so people know in advance that someone won't be "in the office" and completely available, but you can expect them to still put in a near-full day.
answered Oct 15 '09 at 23:14
Blank
Tom Ritter
191 points

8

Skip the booze - bad idea.

  • Work from home
  • Showers at work (for cyclists or other exercise enthusiasts)
  • Healthy food (skip the crap soda and candy - I would provide fruit and veggies)
  • Bring in speakers to talk about interesting topics
  • Bring in lunches
  • At least 4 weeks of vacation time - moving up to 5 weeks
  • Allow unpaid time off
  • Allow part-time work
answered Oct 29 '09 at 01:10
Blank
Tim J
8,334 points

8

This may be starting to get a bit off topic, but I found this to be a great video on employee motivation: Ted Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation Dan Pink talking about three key factors: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

I think he summarizes it quite well. Individuals want the flexibility in their work, they want to master it and know that it matters, and I'd add work with a great team.

In the vein on this specific question, I'd also add that many of the responses can be summarized as "don't sweat the small stuff" and "remove the roadblocks". Basically treat people well and let them do what they need to do to be productive and when you see anything that is impeding their progress get it out of their way. I think the specifics are going to vary according to the team you have and you have to work with them to understand what is going to be the most helpful in your situation.

answered Nov 29 '09 at 14:30
Blank
Phil R
81 points

8

I really enjoyed on a previous startup a visit from a chiropractor to the office, it was to check the working station, good posture and such, plus (this is the nice part) a massage.

Flexible time is always good.

"Ice cream bar" from time to time brings everyone together at the kitchen for an ad-hoc all hands.

answered Oct 15 '09 at 13:25
Blank
User698
148 points
  • +1 for massage! And to think... I'm actually friends with a "traveling" masseuse who's asked on several occasions for referals. – Alex Papadimoulis 8 years ago
Add Comment

10

I reckon the easiest one would be to create an environment where office feels like home. A real home. Forget about office chairs and desks. Just make your office like a house. Put a fridge (fill it in with foods too, if possible), a TV, a couch, a bed (just in case they get stressed and need to take a nap), or even a laundry machine (?). That actually can make people stay and work better at the office because they are feeling comfortable at the office. Make an office their second home.

answered Oct 17 '09 at 19:18
Blank
Jpartogi
1,342 points
  • I like to keep things separate. I have spaces where I work and spaces where I relax. Then I have spaces where I sleep. This helps my rather scattered brain realize when its time to do any of the above activities. For instance, its generally a good idea to not watch TV and relax in bed, go to bed when you are tired enough to sleep. – Tim Post 8 years ago
  • +1 I like this idea! – Anders Hansson 8 years ago
Add Comment

6

Hmm... fun and low-cost?

Get a good coffee maker (a good french press is only $15) and buy really fresh beans. If you can find a supplier nearby, it's not that expensive.

A comfortable "chill" spot in your office. 3 or 4 comfy chairs and a view.

Set up a really good streaming media PC. Invite your employees to fill it up with their favorite music and let everyone listen to it over the network

Sign your company up for your state's pre-tax commuter program

Cater lunch most days. (This can be a really cost effective way to save on salary since you can possibly write it off. Even if you can't, it's worth a few grand in salary for each employee... so you call it a benefit/perk)

Foosball and ping-pong tables are cheap. Run a tournament.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 11:19
Blank
Scott
143 points

6

A couch or two, for comfortable one-on-one discussions away from distractions (a computer monitor), and most importantly for power naps when necessary. I hate being sleepy, non-productive, and away from my home where I could just go to bed for 20 minutes. It really works. Two days ago, I had to lay on the ground for 20-30 minutes before a push to production at midnight. It felt awkward, but I had to do it.

answered Nov 6 '09 at 13:41
Blank
Nicolas Marchildon
121 points
  • +1 for sleeping! – Anders Hansson 8 years ago
  • Yes, however a timer should go off after 20 mins, just to make sure others can have a nap too. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • OTOH I often think that most people need a nap after lunch. Probably the ergonomics of each desk should be convertible into a sleeper. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
Add Comment

6

Involve the families in corporate activities.

At some stage you are going to have to ask your employees to work stupid hours and spend time away from their family. If you invite spouses / partners and children to the corporate Christmas party and summer barbeque they will feel more involved and will feel that their sacrifices are appreciated, and if you are lucky you may even be able to enlist their help from time to time.

Make family members feel welcome to pop into the office. Startups require a lot of dedication and passion from their employees and if the employees' family is on-site this will help greatly.

answered Nov 6 '09 at 21:24
Blank
Jeremy French
148 points
Add Comment

6

One thing I've really enjoyed is using my own laptop for work. Whatever hardware I want. Whatever environment I want. None of this locked-down-nonadmin-access crap I've seen elsewhere. If I need a tool to get my job done, I can download and install it. If it's a paid tool, there's a company credit card available.

Getting an espresso machine was also a huge company hit. We saved a ton of time by not driving to Starbucks all the time (our office location required a drive). And it's a huge morale boost when the company CEO takes some time to make you a shot of espresso! This was a startup after all.

answered Oct 17 '09 at 11:23
Blank
Tony
358 points

6

A great CEO (Bill Flagg) told me that the two big things he did for his company were (1) once a week, a stay-at-home mom/wife of an employee came in and cooked breakfast for the whole company. They paid her, so it was a nice bonus for her, but it was a great way for the company to enjoy the morning. (2) Once a year, all employees and their spouses went on a group trip to Mexico. That was after they were making a good amount of revenue.

answered Oct 17 '09 at 14:43
Blank
Josh Sam Bob
1,578 points
  • ...or, as I'm sure you meant to include, a cooking stay at home pop / husband of an employee would go in and cook a breakfast for the whole company. – Dan Beale 6 years ago
  • No, I was relaying a story that someone told me, so I used the words that he said - including the gender of the individual. – Josh Sam Bob 6 years ago
Add Comment

6

In no particular order, here are some of my favorites. They vary in cost, and some may not be as feasible for startups, based on their size & budget

  • Super flexibility
  • Give them the option to telecommute either part- or full-time
  • Snacks
  • Lunches — whether in or out, daily or not, they really do appreciate it
  • Excellent coffee/tea
  • Tickets to a concert, game, or movie
  • A team building retreat or team building exercises of some kind — they can be made fun and if it takes time out of the work day it will be seen as a perk —
  • Go to a happy hour or networking event (okay, maybe not a perk, but it can be fun depending on the nature of the event)
  • Gun range, fishing, sailing, golfing, canoeing, or any other outdoor activity in your area
  • Ice cream bar sounds like a good idea from webclimber
  • Beer cooler (ala Hubspot), or some other kind of happy hour like Friday afternoon wine or margaritas

Giving them flexibility in their time is probably the most valued perk and will make the person glad they work for a small company.

answered Oct 15 '09 at 16:12
Blank
Dlynton
1,057 points

5

Work-life balance

Offer flexible work hours, and be upfront about it. Many people won't ask for flexibility even though they'd want it for fear of seeming lazy. Everybody needs unplanned time off: The young developer/student has a sudden exam, the middle-aged developer needs time for the newborn (so he may want to work part-time for a year. Make that possible, if you can), etc.

Work-from-home days can be nice, but they need a lot of trust from you and a lot of discipline on the part of the employee.

Appreciation

Our tools are also our favorite toys. Get your devs 24" LCDs, at least. Let them choose their own mouse and keyboard, at least. It's not expensive (heck, even a 30" or two 24" are much less than a month's wage), but it shows your appreciation, and it makes them happier and more productive.

Also, just show some appreciation the old-fashioned way and pat them on the back from time to time (or just tell them how much you appreciate their work).

Small gestures like cool business cards might also work.

Treat them to a nice restaurant every now and then.

Involvement

Involve them in decisions, or at least inform them and let them give their opinion. Also involve them into the state of things: How sales are going, how you talked to somebody at Microsoft, and they're now using your product - and don't leave out the problems. Make your employees feel part of something they're interested in.

Growth

Buy your employees books about programming topics they're interested in (and that have a connection to what you're doing). I know I appreciate just being able to tell my boss "I want to learn about user interface design", and he just tells me to mail him a list of amazon links.

answered Dec 11 '10 at 09:51
Blank
Fzwo
149 points

5

Lots of interesting concepts here.

I'm totally on-board with the move away from 'conventional' working hours (somebody mentioned "managing biomass" - excellent phrase!), instead focusing on what is actually important to a business....productivity!

I do feel that some of these ideas have a tendency to make a work environment resemble a crèche rather than a professional business. I guess tastes just vary. I don't have strong feelings against such things, but I wouldn't choose to instigate them myself.

I also sympathize with Alex's comment on Jason's post - about company lunches seeming "cultish". I think perhaps "cultish" is not quite the right word, but even though the intention is no doubt sincere (I'm sure the folks @ FogCreek are very nice), there is a definite 'tilt' in incentive with such a policy.

You may think it says something nice about you (and it does), but think about the implications it forces upon people. If I want to go out to lunch, do I now have to be concerned about what others might think of me? Will they think that I feel "too good to eat with them"? Perhaps I should go along with the team lunches to make sure they don't think badly of me.....but now I'm altering my behavior out of a sense of apprehension rather than good nature. Your nice lunch policy has succeeded in poisoning the atmosphere to some degree.

I'm sure they have a great team of good people there, but how many people at FogCreek do not choose to go out for lunch because of concerns over how that may be perceived?

answered Nov 6 '09 at 02:45
Blank
Dan
111 points
  • As a thought experiment, suppose I joined FogCreek. Now why would I like to go out if I love the company of the folks having lunch there, the lunch usually turns out to be interesting and it is for free? It is just a matter of scheduling my work well so it finishes before lunch time. Occasionally when I have to meet a friend in a restaurant outside on lunch, I'm sure there won't be a doorman stopping me. Some days when I am really busy, I may not join them for lunch. I hope there would be room for that. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
Add Comment

4

Startups implicitly work on new projects, using new tools; for many people, this is a huge benefit, compared to "maintain a decade-old VB5 application". Just make sure your people know and appreciate the difference.

Having great people in your team motivates other great people to do the same, because it's more fun than working with morons.

The absence of micromanagement - get your job done, but don't have to report for every single minute what exactly was accomplished then - also attracts the right kind of people.

Foosball tables, dartboards etc. are cheap, but of course people must be allowed to use them whenever they feel like it. The worst thing you could do is have such stuff, but only allow using it from 12:00-12:30.

answered Nov 26 '09 at 21:55
Blank
Ammo Q
561 points
  • +1 for remove micro-management. As an employee I don't care about most of the incentives here if my boss is an idiot. – Dan Beale 6 years ago
Add Comment

4

Agile/Scrum + Foosball + Movie Outings + Jovial Comraderie + Loads of Snacks = works for us!

answered Nov 7 '09 at 04:22
Blank
George
11 points

4

One nice "perk" that costs nothing would be a policy of true honesty from management.

For example, instead of telling developers that you are cramming developers into shared spaces "to foster collaboration". Tell the truth, i.e. "We can't afford to give everyone the office they deserve and we realize we will take a productivity hit because of it."

answered Dec 1 '09 at 00:09
Blank
Chris Bennet
111 points
  • An ideal startup team would have no "management" who would need to be "honest". – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • @phaedrus - not always true. but even if there is no "management" there are still leaders, and the same rules of honesty apply imo. – Patrickgamer 6 years ago
Add Comment

2

The one thing I would add is silly awards and traditions. These create an esprit de corps that transcends physical perks. We have a couple:

  • Pay the Pig: Anytime someone does something "dickish" or complains a lot, they have to pay the piggy bank a small fine. Once the bank is full, the whole group does something fun.
  • The Geeky Tiki: If someone does a stellar job, they get the Geeky Tiki award. It's a medal and a Tee Shirt. This is kind of a random thing that the boss (me) gets to award.
answered Nov 22 '09 at 07:11
Blank
Jarie Bolander
11,411 points
  • I may be wrong but I would hate to work under you for the Pig. – Phaedrus 7 years ago
  • It's really a fun and silly thing. Most people call it on themselves when they know they did something bad. – Jarie Bolander 7 years ago
Add Comment

2

I completely and totally disagree that small companies offer more perks than large companies. Although I will concede that this may be the norm, however, it certainly is not like this with all "big companies."

I work for a fortune-5 company in the US. I come and go as I please, set my own work hours, can work from home whenever I like, I'm not micromanaged, and as long as I get my work done and produce, I generally work for myself in a sense.

I realize this is not the status-quo for all large companies, but you can find those jobs as rare as they may seem and it's just a false statement to say they "can't or won't" be out there.

answered Nov 8 '09 at 01:46
Blank
Kilo
129 points

1

Set some limits (maybe $$?), but let them tell you what they want. I don't find things being the same for everyone as equal, fair, etc. Maybe on a regular basis, everyone can pick from a list, a "Get out of Jail Free" card. Instead of getting to leave early on Friday, I may choose to have one extra vacation day. We often jump the gun and think people will take advantage of this and work the system, but that is because so many companies are not taking your approach by wanting to do something good for the employees. Don't offer me a cupcake and then stick your finger in the icing before handing it to me.

answered Jan 22 '10 at 22:49
Blank
Jeff O
6,169 points

1

You asked for cheap, and the answer is surprising, at least to me: it may be that the most important hire is your least expensive hire. The best places I've worked had one employee that the less than the best did not: an outstanding HR person. This is probably the lowest paid professional in the entire startup or small company and yet it's the person who makes the technical folks most excited about work in general. Technical folks are often poor at planning group activities or seeing the utility of them. However, a single great HR hire pays massive dividends in employees' enthusiasm and the company's responsiveness. If given 20 great technical people and no "culture" person (say, just some random admin person) versus 19 technical folks and 1 great culture person, I'd choose the latter. I might gain the productivity equivalent of 2-5 more people in the process.

I realize that this isn't a standard "fringe benefit", but it's great to have coworkers who are having fun. The great "culture" person will put together events, such as birthday celebrations, movie outings, and more, plus keep the management considerate of employees who have personal issues to attend to, such as funerals, sick relatives, etc. For instance, when an employee has a death in the family, a considerate company will be sure that flowers are sent to the funeral. Trust me, an employee will never forget that consideration. So, treat your people well, and hire people that know how to do that.

Disclaimer: I'm not an HR person, I'm in the technical crowd.

answered Aug 2 '11 at 12:57
Blank
Iterator
101 points

1

On the lunch thing, you underestimate the pressure to attend on those who have other obligations or who have a life outside of work. And on the unmetered PTO thing, the pressure is likely to take small vacations, if at all - in my experience (observing from outside as I've not been in that environment yet), people rarely take as much PTO as they would in a situation in which it was accounted for - due to peer pressure or the fact that there just never, gosh darn it, seems to be a good enough time for 2 weeks off.

answered Nov 11 '09 at 06:36
Blank
M1 Ek
201 points

1

A flexible working schedule and nothing else. Pay them enough so they can afford what they want (gym card, car, whatever).

Would you think that a chess player will be happy with your gym card? Or that a bike racer will fall for your BMW?

answered Sep 25 '12 at 00:30
Blank
Big Bro
1 point

1

First, never assume that as startup, its ok not to offer market-rate salaries to our employees. If you go that way you will never recruit the team you need to succeed. Remember, execution is the key to success.

Second, just introduce perks based on what your team wants. You don't need to ask on internet about that.

answered Sep 12 '11 at 05:10
Blank
User84686
139 points

0

More than snacks, lunch. It's not as expensive as it sounds (people don't expect sushi), you can leave Friday out of it (Fridays everyone goes to lunch out), and bringing lunch in cuts a lot of wasted time out of the day without anyone feeling like they're working more.

answered Dec 12 '10 at 01:00
Blank
Frank
2,079 points

0

Pick up a Wii with a copy of Tiger Woods Golf and Beatles Rock Band

answered Oct 16 '09 at 03:58
Blank
Paul O'brien
521 points

0

I don't think there is more to be added, but I realized most of the ideas have not encountered personal basis. Such as: specifying an hour and half informal meeting every other week to share our personal daily experiences and life and family issues.

There could also be a variable, but not fixed quarterly bonus depending on the company's performance the previous quarter.

answered Jul 23 '14 at 18:26
Blank
Moustafa Ezzat
11 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Employees Benefits