10 Low-Cost Employee Perks That Pay

The economic downturn has brought about a different mindset among most employers when it comes to perks and employee benefits. Long gone, for the most part, are lavish perks such as big raises, bonuses, and onsite game and recreation rooms.

Instead most companies are looking for ways to reward deserving employees without breaking the bank. Fortunately when it comes to perks that pay, the possibilities are limited only by your creativity and imagination. Here are 10 ideas to consider:

  1. Warehouse club memberships: Family memberships at warehouse stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco cost just $50 a year or so and are often considered an extremely valuable perk by employees because they help make their paychecks go farther.
  2. Movie tickets and restaurant coupons: Keep a stash of these in your drawer and give them away spontaneously when you see employees doing an especially good job or going above and beyond the call of duty. Little, inexpensive gestures such as this provide a lot of bang for the buck.
  3. Afternoon socials: Close your business for an afternoon every once in a while for a social and serve everyone ice cream, pizza, or sandwiches. You’ll gain more in employee goodwill than you would in sales for one afternoon. As a twist, make the “price” of admission a new idea or suggestion for improving your business.
  4. Ballgame tickets: These don’t have to be major league tickets. Is there a minor league or community college team in your city or town? As an added perk, give away tickets for an afternoon (instead of evening) game so employees get to enjoy a game and an afternoon off.
  5. Company picnics: While not new, this is a great perk that’s easily neglected or forgotten. Add a twist by including a “beat the boss” competition, such as in horseshoes, hula-hoop, or volleyball, and giving away fun prizes to the winners. Company picnics don’t have to just be once-a-year shindigs either. Schedule them spontaneously as often as you like.
  6. Flex time: This really is a no-cost benefit that most employees will perceive to be extremely beneficial. If there’s no specific reason why all employees need to be at work from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., for example, then let them create their own work schedules (within reason). This can help build tremendous loyalty by showing employees that you care about their families and other obligations outside the workplace.
  7. Telecommuting: Like flex time, this perk doesn’t have to cost you a dime. If employees can do their jobs from home just as well as they can from your office, give them this opportunity, even if just for one or two days a week. This is an especially valuable perk for employees with long commutes or hectic family schedules.
  8. Sponsorships: Sponsor the little league baseball or youth soccer or football teams that your employees’ children participate in. This helps the teams, of course, and also provides good exposure and visibility for your business.
  9. Memberships in professional or trade associations: Many employees want to get involved in industry trade associations to meet their peers and broaden their professional horizons. Your company will benefit too, of course, from the knowledge they’ll gain and put to work in your business.
  10. Continuing professional education: Many employees welcome the opportunity to enhance their professional skills through classes, seminars, and workshops. Many local community colleges and professional associations offer courses and conferences at a very reasonable cost.

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