Every day we hear from companies trying to change their benefit package to help attract and retain their best employees. Most of them think they just need to spend more money on their benefits. The truth might be the opposite. Transforming or improving a company’s culture does not have to cost a lot of money. In fact, there are several things you can do right away that can make a huge difference!
Take The Motley Fool for example. Just by creating and fun and unique company culture where employees of all levels don’t take themselves too seriously, they have one of the highest-rated places to work in Northern Virginia!
Before getting into specific ideas, it’s important to take some time to learn and understand what’s important to your employees. We have business owners tell us all the time they want a PPO with no deductible for their employees. This costs a lot of money and when we survey their employees, we find out they don’t really care or appreciate this benefit that much anyway.
In fact, employees in their 20s tend to care more about pet insurance than they do about their own medical insurance. It’s okay to offer a PPO with no deductible but usually, it makes sense to base the employer contribution on a plan the employees appreciate and costs less. If one or two employees insist on enrolling in the PPO, let them pay the difference in cost to do so. Then, take the money the company is saving by restructuring the employer contribution and use it for other benefits that the employees appreciate.
There are two (effective) ways to learn what’s important to employees:
1.) Survey them. You or your benefits broker can set up a custom survey online (we use SurveyMonkey.com) to ask employees about their feelings on the benefit package. This is free and it will become one of the most valuable tools in creating your benefit package. Lure them in with a $5 gift card to complete it.
2.) Create a “benefits committee.” This is a group of employees from all different levels of the organization getting together every few months to discuss current and possible future benefits. You’ll need to buy them a free meal when they meet or you may have trouble getting volunteers. The committee approach has a secondary benefit: they will go back and talk to their co-workers about the fact that the organization is constantly trying to improve the benefit package.
Once you know what your employees want or like, you can start to reevaluate your insurance benefits. Work with your broker to make sure the specific plans you are offering meet their needs.
You will see the biggest improvements come from non-traditional benefits. Here are six things you can implement immediately that will have a major impact on morale and the company culture:
1.) 94 Percent Days – In our office, everyone believes in the saying “94 percent of the things that you worry about never happen.” It’s something I was told when I started in the business and now my entire team lives by it. I tell them not to spend their energy worrying because 94 percent of the time, it won’t happen. This year, we started having 94 percent days. These are days when a randomly selected employee is required to take off of work and spend $94 of company money on something that will allow them to leave their worries behind. They can use it by themselves or with someone else. Employees tend to go to the spa, movies, lunch, or do touristy things. They then come back and tell everyone what they did at a future meeting and share a picture.
2.) Working Advantage – This is a free program you can offer to employees giving them discounts on travel, show tickets, movie tickets, amusement parks, and more. The setup process is 20 minutes and you just have to send employees login information. The discounts are significant and employees only get them because they work for your organization. You will have some employees who think this is the best benefit you offer!
3.) Pet Insurance – The percentage of people that are purchasing pet insurance is exploding. This is another benefit that does NOT have to go through payroll and requires very little effort to set up. Employees can go online using a link you provide and purchase whatever coverage they want at a discount.
4.) Chipotle Buffet – Chipotle offers a great catering option and it costs around $11 per employee. When conducting your annual benefit meeting with employees, make it fun by adding this lunch option. For the thousands of dollars that you spend on benefits, if you spend less than a dollar per month and include a benefit meeting employees look forward to instead of dreading it, it will change their entire perception. Your entire team will be smiling when you review their benefits with a buffet!
5.) Virtual Tacos – This concept has a huge impact on our company culture. We have a couple of online tools we use for it but any organization can recreate this concept internally or online manually. First, we use a system called “Slack” to communicate internally. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s like the old AOL chat rooms. There are “channels” anyone can chat in relating to specific topics or you can send a direct message to anyone on the team. Slack is great for companies of all sizes, it works on computers or phones, and it’s free for their basic version.
Within Slack you can integrate “apps” to add some features. One of them is called “HeyTaco.” The concept sounds absolutely ridiculous, but trust me, it works. HeyTaco is a way to empower employees to reward their co-workers for going above and beyond. Using the system, they give a virtual taco and publicly recognize them for whatever they did. It could be something like staying late to get something done, covering for someone when they were out, or dealing with a difficult situation really well.
The recipients can use virtual tacos and redeem them for gift cards at local restaurants but more importantly, they are getting immediate positive feedback for doing a good job. Who doesn’t like positive feedback?! In our office, we also have a quarterly taco trophy that we give out to whoever receives the most tacos during the previous quarter and it gets passed from winner to winner.
6.) Car Wash – This one is an employee favorite. Hire someone to come to your business and wash the inside and outside of employees’ cars. The cost is usually $20-$25 each and relative to the cost of your benefit package, is a bargain. You can do it just to be nice, tie it to your virtual taco program, use it as a reward, or just to celebrate the beginning of a season. Let employees know ahead of time so they can clear out their cars!
These are just six ideas of many we help our clients with at Capitol Benefits. Every company and culture is different. That’s why it’s important to understand what makes your employees happy and create a company culture around what they want, not necessarily what you want. Schedule a call with a benefit specialist today to learn more about what we can do to improve your company culture and sign up for our exclusive 90-minute tour (provided at no cost courtesy of Capitol Benefits) to get behind the scenes access to the famous employee culture at The Motley Fool.