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A new trend that’s been hitting the workplace in recent years is employment perks. From in-house yoga classes to free lunch, companies in many industries are going above and beyond when it comes to providing employee incentives.
In the red meat industry, it might extend in other areas, such as paddock access for a horse or a few sheep.
However, unfortunately not all perks come cheap. Some professionals wonder whether extreme incentives are being provided at the expense of more practical benefits like higher pay or more holiday time.
So what type of benefits do employees really want, and how can an employer make sure they’re providing some of these perks in the workplace, at a reasonable cost?
Perks? What perks?
If you’re looking around your office or workplace and wondering where the free massages or free gourmet lunches are, you’re not alone. Most businesses don’t offer those kinds of extreme perks.
So where are those perks? Think high-tech companies like Google which pioneered ‘extreme’ employee benefits.
Google employees get massages, free childcare and places to nap, while some people who work for Healthcare funds even receive free health insurance for their pets. Those employed by the global IT company, Dropbox, have Razor scooters to zip around the office more easily.
What employees really want
These extreme perks certainly don’t hurt – after all, no one is going to say no to free lunch. But are they what employees really want?
According to recent research, majority of employees value more basic perks. Something as simple as flexible roster scheduling can be deemed to have considerable value.
While most workers won’t turn down a free trip to the snow or being taken out to lunch, an employee survey reported that these perks aren’t the reason people show up to work. A 2014 survey reports that employees attach the most importance to opportunities for professional development and continuing education; salary raises and bonuses; more holiday days; and where applicable, discounts on products and services. For example, in a meat processing business, that might be something as simple as a special staff rate on take-home meat purchases.
What the employer can do
Companies can use perks to keep morale high and employee turnover low. While large corporations may have major corporate perks, including tuition payments and day-care on site, many smaller red meat supply chain businesses can provide plenty of attractive low-cost perks that can have some very positive results.
The key is making sure you are providing the benefits your employees want – not what you think they’ll want.
Think of your workforce and what they value. Do you employ a lot of working parents? They’ll likely value childcare, paid time off and other related benefits. Young people, on the other hand, may be more attracted to ‘fun’ benefits like exercise classes, games rooms or Friday afternoon drinks.
If you’re thinking of doing something more than just “Employee of the Month”, here are some low cost possibilities for you to consider:
Work from home days. While it may not work in some agribusiness supply chain settings, for those of you who can offer it, it’s a nice way for employees to skip the daily commute and spend some time around their families and get some computer work done.
Fitness classes. Bringing in a yoga or fitness instructor twice a week to run an afternoon class is relatively inexpensive and will help relax your employees and lower stress levels.
Pizza Fridays. It doesn’t actually have to be pizza, but the idea is to bring in lunch for everyone on a Friday.
Discounts on what you do. One of the easiest and most common ways to reward employees is to give them a discount, such as 20 to 30 percent off, on your goods or services.
Fun and games. Consider having a pool table or ping pong table in your break room.
Gym or health club membership discounts. By promising a certain number of members, you can usually get a group discount on membership. You might also want to pick up the cost of a portion of this lower rate, leaving a deep discount for employees who are interested in joining.
Placement incentive. If an employee recommends someone who gets hired and stays six months at the job, offer them an extra paid day off or financial incentive
Continental breakfasts. They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so serve a free breakfast once a week. A bacon & egg jaffle, muffins, coffee and similar fare make for a nice way to start the day.
While perks in general can help bolster morale and create a loyal workforce, it’s important for employers to match the perk to their specific staff. The company’s culture, the needs and goals of the employees and the impact on the business should all be factored into the equation before an employer rolls out the latest perks.
And remember, it’s not the dollar amount that matters. It’s the thought you put into it that will have the greatest effect. Your employees will be happier – and you may even find yourself saving money.