The world is changing and the world of work is changing faster.
Our parents and grandparents were fairly likely to get in on the ground floor with a successful business and work their way up over many years.
A regular wage, a nice pension and maybe a company car at year 20 were all it took to buy their loyalty. And why not, with houses costing 10 bob and a handshake?
That’s all gone now. So the perks that make you a business a new generation will choose have to adapt. But if you’re not Google, massage pods and team holidays are probably a bit out of reach – so what work perks can you offer a younger workforce without going bankrupt?
1. Tap your local businesses for a company discount
If you have any independent cafes and restaurants in your area, approach them for a discount for your staff. It helps them and it helps you – and costs YOU absolutely nothing!
Encouraging your staff to eat locally and go OUT for lunch is also pretty fantastic for team spirit. A team that eats together (and physically leaves their desks once a day) works well together.
2. Book a fitness instructor
Once a week, once a month – every now and then. Whatever. Get an instructor in to lead a company exercise class. Not everyone will want to get involved but don’t underestimate how much your younger employees, in particular, spend on the gym each month.
An inclusive class like pilates caters to all ages, fitness levels and abilities. It’s a great bonding experience, it says you care and it’s great for your team’s physical and mental wellbeing.
3. Do a fruit shop each week
People don’t eat enough fruit. It’s expensive and it goes mouldy in your fruit bowl before you get a chance to even look at it. But people eat it if it’s in the work kitchen – just like the cakes and sweets that always seem to be hanging around the office.
Getting a weekly delivery of fruit from the supermarket is a lovely way of caring for your guys – and it’s not expensive.
4. Make birthdays off a thing
Yes, it costs you a whole day of that person’s salary. But BOY does it sound good on a job ad!
It also makes the office aware of each other’s birthdays and tells every person that you value them, you respect that their life doesn’t revolve around work and you’re prepared to enforce time off with friends and family.
5. Start a summer party tradition
Everyone has a Christmas party. It’s cold, dark and everyone’s already eaten and drunk quite enough at this point in the party season.
But a SUMMER party. That’s different. The options are much more attractive – especially if you have outside space at the office – and everyone’s in a great mood. It’s also much easier to get organised as you’re not competing with other businesses for a good slot – no Tuesday night at 9pm for you!
6. Take a look at your facilities
That old limescaled kettle? Maybe get a new one for £20 in Argos. And while you’re there, pick up a coffee machine at 50% off.
What kind of soap are you putting in the toilets? Is everyone sitting on the right kind of chair? Has the fridge been leaking for 10 years?
For people to want to come to work, it has to be a nice place. Yeah, not so easy if you’re running a metal fabrication workshop with a box room over it – but what you DO have should be clean, modern and in good working order. If you care about your employees, that’s the bare minimum.
7. Make a break-out area
That’s what we call staff rooms these days. Just the phrase ‘staff room’ makes me think of stuffy, windowless cupboards with stained carpet and a dripping tap. Not good enough.
A break-out area, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be a room at all. Whatever spare corner you have, flip through an IKEA magazine and start thinking about making a tiny space into a relaxing retreat from the desk. If you currently have a meeting room – that can go. No one needs a big, intimidating table and uncomfortable chairs. Get furniture people want to sit on and stick some cool wallpaper on one wall. Fresh flowers in your weekly fruit order wouldn’t go amiss, either.
It’s a fact that regular time away from your desk is good for your attention span and efficiency. Putting a sofa and a coffee table in your office (making sure you ask everyone for their input!) will cost you a couple of hundred pounds and change the way people do lunch, chats and meetings.
It makes a real difference if people feel like their office is a second home.