In today’s competitive talent market, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often find themselves challenged to compete with larger companies offering hefty salaries and extensive benefits packages. But fear not! Attracting top talent doesn’t always require a deep dive into your cash reserves. Innovative perks can be a powerful tool for SMBs to stand out and attract qualified candidates. In the US, the fight for talent has ignited a rise in employee perks. Businesses, especially SMBs, are going beyond traditional benefits packages. They’re offering innovative perks like flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and professional development opportunities. This shift caters to the evolving needs of today’s workforce, prioritizing well-being, work-life balance, and career growth alongside competitive salaries.


a curved line of dice that spell out "benefits"


The Importance Of Offering Competitive Perks

The landscape of employee priorities has shifted. While salary remains important, benefits and work-life balance are increasingly valued by workers.

According to a survey by Workable, 63 percent of job seekers pay attention to what benefits a company offers. And a Glassdoor survey from 2018 agreed, finding that 63 percent of their respondents also stated that they considered benefits when seeking a job.

In addition, a recent article from Nasdaq reported that,

“According to a recent GOBankingRates survey, about 62% of respondents said that work-life balance was more important to them in a job/career, versus 38% who selected salary. Work-life balance was most important to respondents ages 25 to 34 (66%) and 35 to 44 (61%). On the other hand, salary mattered most to those ages 18 to 24 (46%).”

All of which underscores the reality that, by offering innovative perks that address these priorities, SMBs can create a more attractive employment offer without breaking the bank.


Five Innovative And Cost-Effective Perks To Offer Prospective Employees

Not all perks are created equal. And not all of them are within the fiscal reach of many smaller businesses. However, we’ve rounded up five perks that are both innovative and affordable.

1. Customized Health Insurance Benefits

One of the most impactful perks an SMB can offer is a robust and customized health insurance benefits package. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all plans. J.C. Lewis Insurance Services can help you create a health insurance plan that caters to the diverse needs of your workforce. We consider factors like age, demographics, and healthcare needs to recommend plans with optimal coverage and competitive premiums.

Imagine offering a young, healthy workforce a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA). This allows them to save pre-tax dollars for qualified medical expenses, while enjoying lower monthly premiums. For employees with families, a PPO plan with a broader network might be a better fit. J.C. Lewis tailors solutions to ensure your health insurance offering becomes a valuable perk, attracting and retaining top talent.

2. Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexibility is a powerful incentive for many employees. Offering options like flexible work hours, compressed workweeks, or remote work arrangements demonstrates your commitment to employee well-being and productivity. This allows your team to manage personal responsibilities more effectively, leading to increased satisfaction and potentially reduced turnover.

For example, according to BusinessNewsDaily.com, flexible work arrangements can improve employee retention, which is often associated with greater job satisfaction. The survey also found that employees with rigid schedules are 2.5 times more likely to look for a new job within the next year than employees with flexibility.

Consider starting with a trial period for flexible work options. Evaluate its impact on productivity and employee satisfaction before making a permanent decision. Even small adjustments, like offering core work hours with flexible start and end times, can go a long way in attracting talent seeking a better work-life balance.

3. Professional Development Opportunities

Investing in your employees’ growth through training, workshops, and courses demonstrates your commitment to their professional development. This fosters a culture of learning and keeps your employees engaged and motivated. While extensive training programs might seem cost-prohibitive, there are creative and budget-friendly solutions.

  • Explore online courses or webinars offered by industry organizations or professional associations.
  • Partner with local colleges or training centers for discounted programs.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer learning by allowing employees to share their expertise through internal workshops.
  • Offer tuition reimbursement programs for relevant certifications or degrees.

In addition, implementing Employee Recognition programs can foster and inspire employee development. By investing in their growth, you not only retain valuable talent but also build a more skilled and adaptable workforce, ultimately benefiting your business.

4. Employee Wellness Programs

Promoting employee wellness is a win-win situation for both employers and employees. Implementing wellness programs that include mental health support, fitness memberships, or even health challenges can have a significant positive impact. These programs encourage healthy habits, reduce stress levels, and ultimately lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.

Partner with local gyms or fitness centers to offer discounted memberships. Organize walking or running groups during lunch breaks. Implement mindfulness and stress management workshops. Even small changes can significantly contribute to employee well-being, fostering a positive work environment and attracting talent seeking a holistic approach to work-life balance.

5. Work-Life Balance Initiatives

Work-life balance is a top priority for many employees. Initiatives that support this, like remote work options, unlimited PTO (Paid Time Off), and family-friendly policies, can significantly enhance your employer brand. Offering remote work options allows employees to manage personal responsibilities, reducing stress and boosting productivity.

Unlimited PTO policies, when implemented with clear guidelines, empower employees to manage their time effectively and prioritize personal well-being. Family-friendly policies, such as on-site childcare or flexible schedules for parents, demonstrate your commitment to supporting working families and attract top talent seeking a supportive work environment.


small business employees gathered around a table speaking with a woman with a tablet


Implementing Innovative Perks In Your SMB 

Here are some practical tips for successfully implementing these perks in your SMB:

  • Start Small: Don’t try to implement everything at once. Begin with one or two perks that align with your budget and company culture.
  • Get Feedback from Employees: Gather feedback from your current team to understand their needs and preferences when it comes to perks. This will help you choose options that resonate most with your workforce.
  • Communicate Effectively: Clearly communicate the value proposition of these perks to potential and existing employees. Highlight them in job postings, on your company website, and during interviews.
  • Be Creative and Flexible: Think outside the box! Consider offering perks that cater to your specific industry or location. A local coffee shop discount or free tickets to community events can be meaningful gestures for your team.
  • Track and Measure Results: Monitor the impact of your perks on employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment. This allows you to refine your approach and maximize the return on investment for your perk strategy.
  • Consider Less-Common Perks: There are numerous activities and programs that employers can initiate or implement that can be offered as benefits to their employees. These can include perks such as financial wellness support, off-site team building activities, and community engagement opportunities. 


Finding The Guidance You Need To Optimize Your Benefits Offering

In today’s competitive landscape, attracting and retaining top talent is crucial for any SMB.

While salary is important, innovative perks can be just as powerful in attracting qualified candidates. By offering customized health insurance benefits, flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, employee wellness programs, and work-life balance initiatives, SMBs can create a compelling employment offer that fosters a positive work environment and attracts top talent. 

Remember, innovative perks are an investment in your most valuable asset – your employees. By prioritizing their well-being and growth, you’ll cultivate a loyal and productive workforce, ultimately leading to the success of your SMB.

J.C. Lewis Insurance Services provides California and Arizona health insurance plans from leading health insurance providers that are fully licensed to operate within these states. So, whether you have inquiries about Small Group Insurance (1-50 Employees), the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), or any other concerns that an employer may encounter, you can trust us to guide you toward the ideal solution.

Contact us today and let us empower you to offer a valuable health benefits package and prioritize your employees’ well-being.