Reap Real Returns with Employee Incentives 

The workplace isn’t the same as it was even a few years ago. Generational shifts, updates in technology, and the incredible growth of the gig economy have changed how just about everyone does business. But no matter how many things change, you still need to incentivize and retain top talent.

Last year, I discussed where to invest money for maximum growth, and at the top of the list was PEOPLE. Unless your business is a one-person operation or entirely AI-driven, attracting and keeping the best possible employees is essential to growth. However, what has worked in the past doesn’t necessarily work today. What you likely need is a personalized mix of incentives that are a smart fit for your particular business and the type of workers you’re looking to fill your ranks with.

So if you’ve got some extra cashflow, either from a surplus or a business loan, these are the incentives that deliver the greatest ROI.

1. Traditional

You might have heard that for millennial workers salary is no longer the deciding factor in choosing a job, however, don’t take this as an excuse to underpay employees. Low unemployment numbers mean that workers have a lot more choice in their employer, so wages should still be competitive, even if they might not be what seal the deal.

Other traditional benefits that are still in demand are access to medical, dental, and vision coverage, as well as paid vacation time and parental leave. While these incentives can be enough to bring in fantastic employees for some, it’s not quite enough for a lot of the more competitive industries, so you might need to invest your money in alternative areas.

2. Culture

A company’s culture is often one of the biggest ways to attract and retain top talent, but how you build it is highly individualized and connected to your personal mission, vision, and core values. Incentives that can build your culture generally revolve around supporting a healthy work-life balance. This can include providing the opportunity or equipment for more telecommuting, work-from-home days, or just more flexible scheduling overall.

Perks can also be more personalized to the wants of your particular workforce, like complimentary dry cleaning, childcare, or even something as simple as free lunches.  Incentives that take things off of employees’ plates and give them one less thing to stress about are highly in demand.

And speaking of stress, wellness is becoming a substantial focus for the culture of many companies. In general, healthier employees are happier employees, and happier employees are more productive employees. Consider offering gym memberships or even in-office exercise classes, and if you do choose to provide meals then opt for healthier food options.

But wellness isn’t just about the body. Anxiety and depression rates are steadily rising and burnout is taking out a large faction of the American workforce every year. You can help create a healthier work environment by adopting stress-reducing techniques, creating an open and nonjudgmental workplace, and allotting for employees to take mental health days, in addition to traditional sick days, no questions asked.

3. Development

A lot of people look for a real path forward in their jobs today. The best employees want to grow and expand their skillset, so giving them professional development incentives is an amazing way to set your business apart.

Provide educational opportunities or send your most promising employees to leadership seminars to hone their skills. Team building activities are also a great place to invest your resources if you’re looking to bond employees and boost group morale. Professional development isn’t just about the individual; creating a tighter-knit team is a smart way to foster more creativity and problem solving while increasing employee engagement and loyalty.

And, of course, employee development starts with training. Without proper training, both initially and ongoing with any new tech or company directives, you are only setting your employees up to fail. They need to know precisely what is expected of them and be given all the tools needed to get there.  By constantly expecting workers to “learn as they go,” you’ll only create confusion, frustration, and high turnover rates. It takes far more resources to hire someone new than to keep a current employee, so thorough training is one area of development where everyone should invest.

Every business is different, so before you sink money into incentives that may not be the best draw, research what competitors and industry leaders are offering, and of course, ask your employees. What will work will likely be a combination of traditional and personalized perks as well as employees being given recognition and real potential to grow within the company.

If you need to invest in your workforce to gain that competitive edge, but don’t have the funds to make it happen, contact Holman Business Services today.  We offer small business loans that can take your company to the next level.