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How start-ups and entrepreneurs can offer employee perks

How start-ups and entrepreneurs can offer employee perks

Posted 30th May, 2019 by Sarah

Not so long ago employee perks didn’t amount to much. Coal miners would be lucky if they were given a Canary to alert them to deadly gases down in the mines. And it was only in 1998 that it became official law for companies to grant their workers four weeks of annual leave. Before that, holiday entitlement of more than a week had to be negotiated by employers and their workers.

In the final year of the twenty-teens, though, it’s a completely different story. In February 2019, The London Post reported that 48 per cent of London businesses were reporting a growth in demand for employee perks.

Some of the world’s largest brands have gone to town on company perks. At DropBox in Silicon Valley employees get free breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the onsite Tuck Stop Cafe. It may sound humble, but this place is staffed by chefs with Michelin star experience, no meal is ever served twice, and all dishes are made using locally sourced ingredient.

Down the road at Cisco Systems, meanwhile, company bosses are now offering staff funding for fertility treatments.

Then there’s Google. Staff working for the search engine giant are said to be able to enjoy everything from on-the-house cookery classes to onsite massage therapists.

Of course, things like free Feng Sui and onsite arcades don’t come cheap. So how can start-ups and small businesses be competitive when it comes to offering staff extras?

In this blog, we’ll look at a few perks that are proven to be meaningful to employees but don’t cost business owners the earth.

Bring your parents to work day

This may seem like a really peculiar perk at first glance, but it’s something that LinkedIn now runs annually and that dozens of other big businesses around the country – including Virgin – now participate in, too. LinkedIn explained that it launched Bring In Your Parents Day #BIYP because one-third of parents don’t understand what their offspring do for work.

The day’s benefits seemingly stretch beyond the informational, though. Employees that take part in the initiative report feeling a renewed sense of pride following the event, others explain how the day made them fall ‘a bit more in love’ with their job.

Volunteering days

Research shows that employees who are given time off to volunteer feel more confident and more communicative afterwards. Another study by YouGov found that 71 per cent of employees believed that volunteering days improved their wellbeing.

And it’s not just the staff that can benefit from a business offering volunteering days. Studies have shown that employees who participate in volunteering activities are more likely to be proud, loyal and satisfied than those that do not.


Okay, so you can’t provide your team with completely free breakfasts, lunches and dinners like Google and other big-gun brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them the odd free snack.

Surveys suggest that 60 per cent of employees believe that the presence of free food in the office means that they’re valued and appreciated.

So, add a cookie jar or a fruit bowl to the office, or shout a round of sandwiches once every while.

Early finish Friday

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, offering early finish Fridays can boost employee morale without there being an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Studies have also repeatedly found that employees are more productive when they know an early finish is in sight, so you might even benefit from this perk as a business.

Workplace sports teams

At the start of 2019 employee benefits platform Perkbox polled more than 2,000 of the UK’s workers to find out which perks they rated most highly. Participants in the study were asked to rate a series of benefits on a scale of 0 to 100.

The findings showed that those involved rated the availability of an office sports team more highly than nice-to-haves like birthday days off, duvet days and sabbatical opportunities.

Drilling down into the details a little more, Perkbox found that 27 per cent of those polled felt sports opportunities would help them feel more loyal to their organisation and 20 per cent believed it would increase their productivity at work.

Homing from work

It wasn’t so long ago that almost every company wrote strict rules into their workers’ contracts that said that the private use of mobile phones was banned during work hours and that anyone caught browsing the internet for personal reasons during office time would face a formal warning.

Today, though, more and more business owners are becoming more relaxed about their staff taking care of a few personal tasks during the workday.

Research suggests that employees who are trusted to tick off a few chores at work feel like they have a better work-life balance, even when they’re working longer hours.

The good news is, that allowing a staff member to send a quick message through social media, order a bunch of flowers online, or nip out on a 15-minute errand can also make employees more productive.


Studies suggest that 66 per cent of employees would leave their job if they felt they were unappreciated. Feeling valued means a lot to a workforce.

The way in which you choose to show your teams that they are appreciated should be a personal decision, based on your company culture and personality.

Some companies choose to have a trophy that’s awarded monthly, some hand out thank-you cards without ceremony, and a few make a point of acknowledging the hard work and achievements of their staff on social media.

Of course, if all these feel a bit twee to you, you can take employee appreciation to the next level. Take the lead from UAE-based digital marketing agency Red Blue Blur Ideas, which hands out two red super hero capes every quarter to team members whose work and actions have embodied the company motto ‘do the right thing’.

Or channel KFC circa 2010, when CEO David Novak started handing out rubber chickens to staff that had performed especially well. The rewards became seen as the gold standard in the company and some staff members cried when they received one.

Categories: Small Businesses

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