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Setting Employee Benefits: 15 Great Ideas for Small Business Owners

Apr 18, 2022 · 5 min read

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It’s no longer just about paying salary. When you hire a first employee, you start to invest in the human capital of your company. And this definitely pays you back, because people matter.

Many young entrepreneurs are concerned they could not really compete in talent recruitment with big companies’ benefit packs. But corporate employees often have no idea about the use of all these bonuses. In fact, SME employees can be more satisfied with benefits as it’s properly picked up and presented.

In this article, we selected the most affordable employee benefits for small businesses and combined them with our own experience in the Enty team. Indeed, setting benefits will not require a ton of money – keep calm and be creative!

Employee Benefits 101: What, When, and Why

Employee benefits are all the payments, resources, and arrangements provided to employees by an employer in addition to a regular salary. It might be required under national legislation as, for example, health and social insurances, or granted by the will of an employer. Unnecessary employee benefits are also called ‘perks’. Friday pizza in the office is a nice perk, isn’t it?
A matter of perks usually arises when you’re searching for a new hire. Employee benefits can help to be a competitive employer on the market. Meanwhile, you can use company perks to negotiate with existing staff and upgrade their compensation package value.

Reasonably implemented perks serve both an employer and an employee during the whole cycle of HR:
Sources: Glassdoor, SHRM, Horton
As extra bonus, employers can also save some money on tax payments as long as a government encourages companies to provide some benefits for employees with tax incentives. We examine tax incentives for fringe benefits in the case of Estonia in this blog article.

Hardcore Benefits

Perhaps, the most expensive benefits concern health and retirement issues. At the same time, it’s the most retaining ones because it has a long-run effect.

  • Private Health Insurance. Until many independent contractors, digital nomads, overseas remote workers are not covered by public medical insurance, it’s indeed a valuable benefit. Also, you can offer health insurance in a specific medical sphere like dental or vision.

  • Health and wellness programs. An area of gym memberships, sports halls, and yoga classes seems relatively cheaper than health insurance premiums. For example, a reimbursement of participation fee in a city-run and a calendar of upcoming runs require minimum resources. Wellness activities would be appreciated for sure.
Note that SPA and beauty salons are not usually a subject of tax incentives (but adult ballet and belly dances are!)

  • Pension plan. General facts are that people are really bad with long-run savings and we cannot lean on a public retirement system anymore. Thus, it’s worth it for an employer to offer an alternative pension plan. Take your time to choose one of the national providers or international SIPPs (self-invested personal pension).

  • Employee stock ownership plan. Aside from giving an employee an apparent interest in the company, ESOP can provide an employee with retirement assets if s/he works for a long time and a company succeeds. Learn more about the employees’ stocks and options here.

Soft Benefits

Creating for employees an environment that encourages personal growth and development is absolutely affordable task for every small business owner.

  • Mentoring and peer recognition. When your team is growing, it might be helpful to organize experience exchange and positive feedback. While for mentoring it could be whoever can match ‘seniors’ and ‘juniors’, for peer recognition there’s software, e.g. Officevibe.

  • Learning opportunities. It commonly takes the form of online training courses as you might get on professional platforms, e.g. Udemy. It could be a live course or a webinar as well. A free bonus: an employee who learned can become a speaker and share info with colleagues.

Employee Benefits for Remote Teams

An opportunity to work remotely is already a benefit. Nevertheless, you still can upgrade a job offer with more perks in a direction of work-life balance.

  • Flexible work hours. It’s basically about giving employees the ability to work when they want. Still, an employer keeps maintaining such tools as fixed time calls and meetings, time frame to an employee be able to reach, asynchronous standups, etc.

  • Unlimited annual leave. You let employees take leave days when they need to rest or spend time on private matters. Employees feel free from counting how many days are left or how to spend all the days off till the end of a year ASAP.
In mind, everybody knows their area of responsibility and does as much as s/he can.

Daily Essential Benefits

There are plenty of employee benefits that derive from the workplace arrangement and weekly schedule. Put together, that’s what brings employees everyday satisfaction.

  • Office environment. Pretty everything that could make a workplace more comfortable place for employees. Pay Spotify subscription, decorate walls with graffiti, put the basket or yoga mat - there are no limitations.
Do not forget about those who work from home. Delivery of ergonomic devices (chair, keyboard, etc.) is highly appreciated.

  • Free food. Or snacks. Any feed for your employee's body and mind is welcomed because employees' happiness does depend on it - an argument. If you have employees in an office, you can buy it at a local warehouse store. For remote workers, you can offer a meal delivery.

  • Employee discounts. If a company produces products or services that can be relevant to its employees, it’s considered a good manner to offer employees discounts.

  • Seasonal activities. Recurring events make employees wait for the next one, thus it retains them for longer periods in a company. Set a Winter solstice day with fresh fruits that energize the body with vitamins, or Summer Fridays when you finish work earlier - again, there are no limitations other than your team’s creativity.

  • Volunteering time. Volunteering makes life more meaningful, therefore a good idea is to leave employees who fancy contributing local community or nature earlier, for example, once a month.

Employee Benefits On Demand

Several employee benefits refer to events that do not occur often. Therefore it’s not a common expectation to be provided by an employer. But since people are people, we’re surrounded by births and deaths, and it would be fair to lend a hand in such a situation.

  • Parental leave. Parenthood is always challenging work-life balance. And, at least, it takes time to adapt. Experts strongly recommend going beyond the benefits required by law and strengthening the parental leave package. Offer a meal stipend, flexible schedule, childcare service, etc.
  • Psychological assistance. Counselor session reimbursement might be helpful both for maintaining employees’ well-being and retaining them on the in-house career track.

As you run an SME company, the employee benefits pack is your powerful tool to recruit talents and create a great team. Take as a basis to think about the financial well-being of employees in advance and add to it some meaningful, low-cost perks which will show them your support.
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