A woman sitting at a desk leans back in her chair and stretches her arms over her head with a smile. A laptop sits open on the desk in front of her and two large plants sit on the sill of a large window in the background.
Perks like flexible working hours, mental health days and remote work options give your employees the autonomy to structure their working days in a way that works best for them. — Getty Images/fizkes

In our Startup2021 series, we're helping aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the new business climate of the COVID-19 era. Each week, we'll share an in-depth look at one step you can take toward launching your business in 2021.

Providing employee benefits is a must-do for any business, but some companies lack the budget to go above and beyond with their offerings. If you’re just starting out as a business, there are many attractive perks you can give your workers without breaking the bank. Here are seven inexpensive benefits you can offer your employees.

How to afford benefits

When business owners consider providing employee benefits, many assume they’ll be spending more money than desired. However, with these tips, small business owners can easily afford employee benefits.

  • Set a budget: Knowing how much you’re able and willing to spend on employee benefits will ensure you’re only considering options within reason.
  • Split the cost with employees: Many business owners who can’t afford full employee benefits will split the cost with their employees, working out a deal that best suits both parties.
  • Outsource HR to PEOs: Outsourcing your HR efforts to a professional employer organization (PEO) can help you reduce the cost of employee benefits.
  • Choose higher-deductible plans: Higher-deductible plans require a large deductible upfront with 100% coverage, which is perfect for businesses that can’t afford health insurance.
  • Offer non-financial perks: There are plenty of non-financial benefits you can offer your employees, from flexible working hours to professional development opportunities.

Inexpensive benefits to offer your employees

Here are some examples of affordable employee benefits you can provide to your workers:

Flexible hours

Allowing your employees to work flexible hours costs nothing for your business, yet it’s an attractive perk many professionals seek today. By letting your workers create their own schedule, you’ll likely cultivate a more productive company culture, and your team will appreciate the autonomy you provide them.

More PTO

Many companies cap their employees’ PTO at two weeks, which has been known as the standard for quite some time. However, more businesses are experimenting with unlimited PTO, trusting their employees won’t take advantage of the perk. By offering more PTO, you’ll show your employees you respect their time and acknowledge they have personal lives outside of work, a benefit that goes unmatched.

[Read more: How to Structure Employee Paid Time Off Policies]

Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Free gym membership/workout classes

Investing in your employees’ overall health can be a great yet inexpensive way to support them. Through your company, you can offer free gym memberships or even just workout classes for employees to attend in their free time. This simple perk is one many employees seek from their employers today.

Remote work options

With remote work on the rise today, you should consider allowing your employees to work from home at least part of the time. In fact, for many prospective employees, this isn’t considered a perk — it’s an expectation. To keep your employees satisfied and productive, find ways to accommodate remote work while still maintaining your company culture.

Free professional development courses

Providing opportunities for professional development will not only benefit your employees but also your company as a whole. Allow your employees access to free courses by signing up for online learning communities you can share with your entire team. You might even consider giving them time each week to complete these classes on the clock rather than during their personal time.

Wellness programs

Create your own employee wellness program that offers an array of free health initiatives, from financial counseling to wellness challenges your entire team can participate in. Not only is this a great way to get everyone healthy and involved, but it’s also an affordable option that encourages your employees to take time for themselves.

[Read more: Leading a Hybrid Team? Here’s How to Create and Maintain Your Culture]

Mental health days

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and just like taking a sick day when you have a fever, employees should be able to take off when they’re feeling mentally unwell. Keep in mind that offering mental health days separately from vacation days is important, as you don’t want your employees to feel like they’re being punished or using up their vacation time whenever they’re under the weather.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published January 05, 2022