Creative Thinking. Non-traditional benefits pay-off

Work-life balance.  Many businesses give this buzzword mere lip service; others have a genuine interest in helping employees achieve it.

Many times, this involves non-traditional benefits to help employees save time or simplify family life.  Other non-traditional benefits are simply intended to improve workplace atmosphere so those long hours are more comfortable and employees feel genuinely appreciated. The good news?  Non-traditional benefits often require more creativity than cash.

The list of possible benefits is long and should be tailored to your own workforce.  Not sure what they would value most?  Ask.  It’s that simple.

Possibilities include on-site day care, eldercare, pet insurance, continuing education, scheduling flexibility, adoption assistance, services for on-site massage, dry cleaning or gift-wrapping, occasional catered lunches, after-school transportation and an on-site study hall for middle and high schoolers.  The options are endless.

Don’t have the funds to institute large new benefits?  Never underestimate the power of simple gestures.  Upgrading from plain black coffee to seasonal blends and special flavorings. Summer hours. Holiday shopping passes. A private room for nursing mothers. Walking Wednesdays to give every employee a half-hour pass to enjoy a brief stroll.  Free or subsidized parking or commuting assistance. And of course, everyone loves casual Fridays.

Think no one notices or values these perks?  I know of one company which took away the free drinks in the company break room, claiming tough financial times.  They didn’t think anyone would notice.  Although the company saved $50 or so each month, it lost much more in goodwill (and the slight was considered more egregious because the CEO had kept his country club membership).

Regardless which non-traditional benefits you choose to add, know that they can create a real difference.  In fact, the 2012 Aflac WorkForces report revealed that employees who are happy with their benefits programs are nine times more likely to stay with their employer than those who are dissatisfied with their benefits program.

As Amy Jantz, senior compensation manager at WorldatWork, a global association for compensation and benefit professionals says, “Employers that institute non-traditional benefits, they become the employers of choice.  Word spreads.”

Funny how employee benefits ultimately becomes a benefit for the employer as well.