t is in the infancy stages of a startup that founders form a solid core team to give their young business a proper foundation, but most early stage startups would break the bank if they offered highly competitive salaries. So they did exactly what you'd expect -- they got creative. Over the years, startups have attracted top prospects in an increasingly competitive talent market by offering unique perks. Many offer flexible work arrangements (remote or co-working), catered weekly lunches, or even Friday happy hours. Here’s a short list of some basic incentives you should provide if you want anyone to accept your job offers:

  1. Health and/or dental insurance
  2. 401K or retirement plan
  3. Employee discounts
  4. Paid maternity/paternity leave
  5. 2 to 4 weeks of vacation

It’s essential that, as a founder, you keep in mind the type of your employees you’re targeting. Millennials, for example, have different needs than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Services like Justworks can simplify all the nitty-gritty details of HR, payroll, and benefits, but you’ll need to do some research on your own if you want to offer a more curated package. Take a look at some alternative incentives you can provide to make your business stand out.  

Flexible Work Days & Hours

If your business doesn’t need your employees there from 9 to 5 every day, don’t keep them there. Startups and small businesses are more flexible than larger corporations -- you have the freedom to work irregular hours. You should consider providing flexible time arrangements or encourage your employees to work remotely at least once a week. In the world of work-life balance, we’ve found that a harmony of work and life is more important. If you foster a positive working environment, your employees and your business will both benefit.  

Unlimited Vacation Time

It is hard to compete with a company that provides unlimited vacation time. If your startup can afford to provide this perk (within reason), you may be able to attract top talent for a lower cost than your competitors. Companies that provide unlimited vacation time allow their employees to feel more empowered, engaged, valued, and respected for their contributions.  The only caveat to this perk is that you really need to trust your employees. Communication is the key to success on this front. If you choose to offer unlimited vaca, be sure to set some boundaries. Due dates, time sheets, or logs of work done within the certain time periods are all ways to manage your employees without seeming like Big Brother.  

Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Student loan repayment programs target the millennial workforce, which is now the largest working generation — millennials will make up three-quarters of the labor pool by 2025. According to Debt.org, 70% of college students graduate with loans, making student loan repayment assistance more beneficial and valuable than 401(k) and standard health insurance. So few companies offer this perk that you would definitely stand out compared to the competition.  Millennials are typically not as concerned with housing assistance, paternity or maternity leave, or pension plans, which do appeal to older members of the workforce. Companies like Gradifi allow employers to assist employees with their student loan repayment programs. Determine if your business should provide this assistance and learn more about how you can benefit from providing a student loan repayment program here.  

Learning Funds

You can add a ton of value to your employees and your team by giving them some money every year that they can dedicate to building their skills or learning new ones. Give your employees the option to empower themselves to get better at their jobs and advance their learning. Aside from the obvious benefit gained by learning more within their chosen fields, employees gain a sense of value from employers that are able to nurture the learning and growth of their employees.   If you want to venture into more advanced benefits packages, you can allow your employees to pick and choose perks they’d like to receive. After all, if you have a diverse team, you’ll have a diverse set of needs to meet with each employee. Giving them options keeps you from getting pigeonholed by your benefits package.  

With the competitive nature of new startups, small businesses in the early stage need to stand out as employers to attract the employees that will help their businesses grow. Fun work perks are a plus, but a small startup team also needs people who are committed to the idea of growing the business. When hiring, make sure your new employees also have a genuine interest in the success and growth of your startup, a strong belief in your vision, and a desire to advocate for the culture you practice on a daily basis.

September 26, 2018
Company Culture & Management