Unique Employee Benefits

New businesses, both large and small, spring up in America every day. Unique employee benefits, therefore, must be competitive if you want to retain as many hardworking, dedicated employees as possible. In addition to salary and traditional benefits, a few flexible employee benefits that might persuade workers to stick around.

Healthy Living Employee Benefits
Offering incentives for healthy living can help your employees get fit and can cut down on insurance costs and sick days. As reported by Leah Carlson Shepherd of Employee Benefit News, the Arkansas Department of Health has launched a pilot program for their employees. Staff members earn time off, gift certificates and other coveted employee benefits for reaching health goals, such as exercising and eating fruit. Alternatively, an employer might offer incentives for greener living, eco-friendly lifestyle choices or volunteering with non-profit organizations.

You can turn this into more flexible employee benefits by giving staff members a choice when they earn a particular reward. For example, they might earn points with healthy living choices, which they can then redeem for gift certificates or time off.

Employee Retention
Some benefits promote retention of valuable workers. Ray Silverstein of Entrepreneur suggests a "golden handcuffs" policy to keep valuable employees on the payroll. For example, Silverstein suggests providing employees with a vehicle or gym membership in the employee's name, but paid for by the employer. The employer makes the payments each month for the car or membership, but the responsibility transfers to the employee should he quit. If you offer these types of benefits, however, you must be completely up-front with staff members before you bestow such benefits.

Working from Home
Telecommuting not only saves employees gas and time; it also creates space in the office for other activities, benefiting the employer as well. You might want to set up a situation in which employees can earn working-from-home time. For example, once they have worked for the company for two years, they can work from home two days out of the week. They will still report to the office and are therefore subject to supervision, but they will have additional flexibility in their week.

This can also be tied to other benefits, such as laptops and cellular phones provided by the company. If employees are going to work from home, they need the tools to facilitate their work. Of course, these tools will require out-of-pocket expenses for your company, so you must be prepared to pay for them.

Child Care
If you want to stand out above all the other employers in your industry, offer child care to your employees. These benefits can take many forms and serve to remind your workers that you are in tune with their needs. If your employees are parents, they will appreciate your acknowledgement of their lifestyles.

First, you might offer daily child care at the office or at another location where employees can leave their children while at work. Good child care takes much of the stress out of working-parent households. They also save employees considerable money every month. The child care facility might be run by your company or it might simply be an affiliation. Whatever the case, you foot the bill.

Other child care options are available. For example, your company might offer extended maternity and paternity leave for new mothers and fathers. This gives parents more time to bond with their children before they return to the workplace. Additionally, some involve adoption assistance for parents who cannot conceive naturally.

Employee Discounts
Most flexible employee benefits packages include discounts at the employee's place of business, but discounts can extend into other realms. Although this generally applies only to large corporations who have nearly unlimited contacts, just about any business owner can arrange at least a few mutually beneficial relationships.

For example, if you order all of your computers from a particular manufacturer, that company might be willing to offer all of your employees a discount on their home computer equipment. In exchange for a bulk-order contract from you, your employees benefit from discounts. These benefits can apply across the board, from gym memberships to cellular phones to tire centers.

Good benefits often mean the difference between happy, loyal employees and those who are searching the classified ads on corporate time. If you want to retain your staff members, it is important to give them reasons other than just a fair salary to stay.

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Your employee benefits packages play a strong role in attracting and retaining the talent you need to grow your business.

Employers who hope to retain employees should be prepared to offer basic employee benefits. Good benefits not only help build a positive working relationship between employer and employee but also promote good work habits and financial practices.

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How do the benefits you offer to your employees stack up? What are the best employee benefits available? You may not be able to give your employees everything, but these ideas from other companies might help you shape your plan.

Whether your business is large or small, it's important to have the benefits that make your employees feel secure and invested in the company.  Setting up a retirement plan, such as 401(k) planning, for employees of a small business can help workers plan for their future and foster loyalty to the company.

When starting a new business, you may wonder if it is a good idea to pay yourself first. Before answering that question, you need to balance your personal needs and the needs of your business.

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