9 Competitive Benefits for Small Businesses

June 14th, 2017 Comments off
Competitive Benefits

You can’t always offer the competitive salaries that bigger companies can; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t compensate with benefits. Investing in employee benefits can provide a huge return. There are plenty of low-cost benefits you can offer employees that will keep them healthy, happy and engaged in their work, which will benefit your business in the long-term. Not only that, the better the benefits, the more you will be able to attract top talent. Below are just some of the many benefits to consider.

Health care. Deciding on the right health care plan for your small business can be complicated; however, most employees want and expect a health plan as part of their benefits package. Therefore, offering health insurance, even if it’s not required for your small business, can be a competitive differentiator in a tight labor market. For help figuring out how to navigate the laws and regulation that apply to your business under various health plans, check out the Department of Labor’s Health Benefits Advisor interactive website, Health Care and Health Care Reform page and An Employer’s Guide to Group Health Continuation Coverage Under COBRA.

Flex time. Giving employees more flexibility with their work schedules can help them achieve a better work-life balance. Giving employees the resources necessary to create a healthy work-life balance can result in higher levels of job satisfaction, productivity and retention, among other advantages.

Corporate discounts. Gone are the days when only large companies could get corporate discounts for products and services. Companies like PerkSpot, Fond and Corporate Perks help small businesses provide discounts for employees on everything from gym memberships to dining and entertainment to travel services.

Casual Fridays: In a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, the ability to wear jeans to work was among the top five most-wanted perks among employees. Even allowing employees to wear jeans or more casual attire on Fridays can have numerous benefits. Not only can it boost morale, but some believe it can increase creativity and productivity among employees as well.

Free food: Providing free office snacks (or lunch) can be a huge competitive advantage when it comes to attracting top talent. Not only is free food at the office a desirable office perk (catered lunches ranked among the top three most-wanted office perks in the same CareerBuilder study), research has linked it to higher levels of happiness at work, which can lead to higher levels of productivity and retention. But don’t think any snack will do. Healthy snacks (fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, yogurt, etc.) are better to keep employees focused and energized (prevent those 2 pm sugar crashes).

Pet-friendly offices: This is another benefit that will cost you next to nothing but could reap huge rewards in terms of higher productivity and retention. Not only does letting employees bring their cats or dogs to work relieve them of the stress of finding a dog-sitter, having animals around can also decrease stress levels among all employees.

Unlimited vacation: Offering unlimited vacation time to employees certainly comes with risks. What if employees abuse the policy? But more and more companies are offering this option as a way to retain top employees and attract in-demand talent. Not only are employees responsible with the freedom, but they tend to work harder before and after their absences. Moreover, trusting employees with this freedom can promote feelings of loyalty and boost morale.

Volunteering days off: More companies are supporting employees’ philanthropic efforts by providing time off to volunteer. Others are organizing company-wide volunteer days, which is almost as good for your business as it is for the community. Not to mention that being a socially responsible company is an attractive feature for millennial workers who want to make a difference.

Game rooms. Game rooms may seem like a productivity-killing distraction, but they might do just the opposite. Not only can they provide a much-needed break from the daily grind, enabling employees to go back to their desk revitalized and ready to work, but they also promote cross-team interactions, which makes for better collaboration.

Looking for more ways to keep employees happy? Check out 6 Ways to Stop Employee Turnover In Its Tracks


83% of Women Over 25 are Postponing Family to Focus on Career

February 27th, 2017 Comments off
2 in 5 Workers Have Had an Office Romance

Can you truly have it all – a successful career and a family? For many women the answer may be yes, but with a caveat. They are concentrating first on building successful careers before starting their families.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 83 percent of women over the age of 25 who plan to have children are postponing starting a family to focus on their careers. This is compared to 79 percent of men who say the same.

Wanting to earn and save enough money to provide for their families was the top reason given by both women and men who plan to have children (50 percent and 53 percent, respectively), followed by the desire to become more established and get ahead in their careers (28 percent and 33 percent, respectively).

Fifteen percent of women who plan to have children say they are waiting until at least age 35 to start a family, while 63 percent are waiting until at least age 30.

What Does This Mean For You?

Women and men may be more comfortable starting families if they know they have the support of their employers. That’s why companies with paid leave policies for new mothers and fathers are highly attractive to workers in this competitive job market. While paid maternity and paternity leave may not be an option for every company, having an inclusive, flexible work culture can still go a long way toward helping employees achieve success both professionally and personally.

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Are Happier Employees More Productive?

October 4th, 2016 Comments off
Are happier employees more productive?

Google is known for offering employees perks that will make them happier, such as great food and play rooms. This strategy is based on the belief that happier people are more productive. Is it worth investing in your employees’ happiness? And, as a recruiter, should you prefer happier candidates?

A recent study by Oswald, Proto and Sgroi published in the leading journal in labor economics in 2015 offers some answers based on a series of clever experiments:
1. Showing employees a comedy clip makes them 13 percent more productive.
In this experiment, the researchers showed employees a comedy clip. Not everyone found it funny, but on average there was a 13 percent increase in productivity. The increase in productivity was higher among those people whose mood was boosted the most by the clip.

2. Free food and drinks also boost productivity by 15 percent.
Researchers gave workers chocolate bars, fruit, and water, and 10 minutes to enjoy them prior to the work session. Getting food and drink made people 15 percent more productive compared to those who did not receive this benefit. This result confirms that Google’s strategy of offering good food may well be an effective way to increase productivity.
3. People who are unhappy in their personal lives are less productive at work.
Are unhappy people less productive? In this experiment, researchers compared the work performance of students from the same university. Students who had recently had a death or illness in the family reported lower levels of happiness and were 10 percent less productive than students who did not experience such sad events.

Should you therefore invest in free food and drinks for employees, or perhaps allow more internet browsing to lift people’s moods? This is probably going to make them more productive if they get working right after the benefit is given. What is unclear is whether the cost to the employer is worth the productivity boost. If you find low cost ways of boosting the mood of your employees, go for it: Everyone will benefit, employees and business alike.

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How to Nourish In-Office Learning

March 15th, 2016 Comments off
Recruiting for the love of learning

There was a time in history when employees were at the mercy of their employer in terms of fringe benefits. A great package in the early 20th century might include a steady paycheck and the day off on Christmas — unless you were employed by a gentleman with the name Ebenezer. Things have certainly changed; so much so that it is now employers who must fight to offer the greatest benefit packages in order to attain (and retain) the best and brightest employees. One of the most popular benefits for employees is an opportunity to learn.

Whether through tuition reimbursement programs, paid professional certifications or free continuing education credits, fostering employees who have a deep love of learning is beneficial to all those involved. With this in mind, it’s important for managers to create learning opportunities within the office. Most programs focus on opportunities outside regular business hours; however, if you’re a people manager, there are things you can do today to help cultivate great learning environments without the need for employees to seek such opportunities during their free time.

Here are four ideas to foster a love of learning:

Call It Out.

As you look to initiate any learning program, it will be important to make sure those who report to you are aware of the level of importance you place on learning. You may be thinking, “Shouldn’t my team already know this is important to me?” The truth is, most employees don’t expect or assume that an organization or their managers value learning above learning the in and outs of their particular roles and focusing on what they brought with them through the doors.

Invite Experts.

Expert guests may range from senior members of other teams with which you work, to professional educators. Picture these events as in-house conferences or seminars. If there is a particular certification that would help the members of your team perform more effectively, having an outside instructor come to you each week and working through the course as a team is a great way to build camaraderie, as well as ensure your employees have the specific qualifications you need to ensure long-term organizational success. For example, if you’re managing a group of project managers, there could be an opportunity to work as a team toward earning a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate.

Set up a Laboratory.

Whether you want to call it a workshop, a lunch and learn — or another term people may be buzzing at the moment, having proctored learning sessions is a solid method to employ to edify your teams. The frequency of these sessions can be flexible, though in most office settings, monthly or bi-monthly works well.

Involve your employees! Don’t just pick a topic and hope for the best; there should be a dialogue around what skills and knowledge your people are interested in improving. And remember, not everyone on the team will be, or needs to be, in attendance at every session. One month you may focus on communication, another on organization skills or time management, and so on.

Carve out Time.

Providing the time to foster a love of learning doesn’t have to be a detriment to the bottom line and productivity. A mere 30-minute block for employees to focus on learning initiatives adds up to over 20 hours of annual, in-office learning. Think about it: Perhaps it’s the last 30 minutes of every Tuesday, or the first half hour on Fridays. By making it a point to provide specific time solely for the purpose of education, most teams can accomplish a significant amount of self-betterment.

Learning is an important piece of individual growth and development. This goes above the standard on-the-job training; that’s still essential, but it focuses only on the skills needed to complete the tasks employees were hired to perform today, rather than helping them grow within the organization and become the leaders of tomorrow. There is no right or wrong methods. Anything you can do as a manager to help your employees grow will both benefit the organization, as well as help demonstrate your people skills. These suggestions are a great start, but there should be no limit on learning, as there is no finish line. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As the editor and content manager at ResumeEdgeMichelle Kruse has helped countless job seekers find success. With more than 10 years of experience recruiting for companies like Novartis and IBM, she has firsthand experience of what recruiters are looking for, and she shares that insight with those who need it most. She writes regularly to provide advice on resume writing and interviewing not only because it’s her job, but because it’s her passion.