Five Perks that Won’t Break the Bank

Land a job at Google and you may never leave. From on-site physicians and nurses, to extended parental leave, to reimbursements for degree-level education, to free legal advice, to free food, to free… well, you get the picture. With tech companies, creative perks are an industry standard that attracts employees and retains them. Yet any company in any industry will suffer when employee morale is low and turnover is high. Very few organizations have Google’s financial clout but that does not mean perks should be off the menu. Here’s five approaches to company perks that won’t break the bank:

1. Movies are a socially-sedate perk

As a movie studio, it should come as no surprise that DreamWorks Animation regularly screens movies for its employees. Treating your staff to a movie in the break room or whisking them to a cinema during work hours is an inexpensive alternative to typical work get-togethers. Without the drama and preparation of a Christmas party, or the logistical difficulties of a retreat, watching a movie can be a low-maintenance company perk. Simply sitting back, relaxing and enjoying a flick is an oasis in an otherwise hectic work schedule.

2. Corporate responsibility is an effective employee perk

In light of a 2010 study which suggested that turnover dropped as much as 3 to 3.5% in large corporations where the company was regarded as being socially responsible. Employees, it seems, want to work for an employer that cares. As such, many companies arrange group volunteer opportunities or they empower individual employees to take leave (paid or unpaid) to volunteer in efforts that they are personally invested in.

3. Are flexible work arrangements even a perk anymore?

Do you know that as many as 70 percent of employees said they would change companies if the new employer offered a flexible working arrangement? These figures are taken from research which claims 39 percent of employees who are given a personal device by their employer, like a phone, are expected to work after hours. Yet only 24 percent of companies have policies that govern work done outside of hours. Many companies, it seems, implicitly facilitate unorthodox work schedules without formalizing the arrangement. It will come as no surprise that these employees might prefer a schedule that allows them to get paid for work done flexibly. Many companies find that a flexible working arrangement simply facilitates a worker to meet their responsibilities in a way that promotes work-life balance. In fact, for some organizations, flexible working arrangements are not even considered a perk but a sign of the times.

4. Free food for your employees can be written off

Google is able to give its employees free food all day, every day. However, by paying attention to Canada’s tax rules, even the smallest of companies can treat its employees to a tax-deductible meal once in a while. Likewise, many Canadian businesses can write-off the cost of two professional conferences per year. In your company is there an employee who love to pursue this kind of professional development? If not, there are many other employee perks which can be marked down as company expenses each year. Check out this list to see if any deductions might be considered company perks at your organization (then double-check with your accountant) and remember to consult with the Canada Revenue Agency for any updates on relevant tax laws.

5. Be wary of taking away perks

Hell hath no fury like a gardener scorned. The Daily Mail  reports that the final straw which instigated strike action at London’s Royal Parks may have been the withdrawal of the gardeners’ free Christmas hamper. When a private company took over the maintenance contract for some of London’s most famous parks last year, the groundskeepers were soon upset with their new bosses. In addition to overtime rates being cut, the traditional Christmas hampers, which contained savoury snacks and festive beverages, would no longer to be gifted to the gardeners as a perk of the job. Strike action ensued and the hampers were reinstated. And what’s the moral of the story? All of the perks mentioned above are fantastic ways to improve employee satisfaction but think carefully before committing to any as you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you have to take them away.