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Enterprise behavior: Getting employee perks right

May 9, 2018

When it comes to employee benefits, it’s tough for a small merchant to compete with big companies.

A small business owner can’t splurge on lavish offerings like all-inclusive vacations or an in-house chef, but it’s still important to think of creative, low-cost perks to keep your employees motivated. After all, job seekers take into account the whole package, not just the salary. Intentionally baking in benefits that that make their lives better sets a merchant apart from the competition and can lead to productive, loyal and happy workers.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stock the office pantry.

Something as simple as having tea, coffee and a few of your employees’ favorite snacks always on hand can go a long way in making the work day more pleasurable. If you can do a little more, employees might enjoy carbonated beverage dispensers, options for their coffee consumption (cold brew, aeropress, etc.), or even some beers to enjoy at the end of the work day.

Surprise them with treats.

Bringing in goodies like bagels, donuts, or cupcakes breaks up the workday and adds a splash of excitement to everyone’s day. It’s an affordable, easy way to boost morale and put a smile on everyone’s face. Plus, if you regularly put out coffee and donuts early in the morning, it encourages people to show up early. And for those working late, reward them with dinner from a local eatery.

Offer freebies.

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Make it a habit to reward your employees with small tokens of appreciation, such as tickets to concerts, movies or events. If your company credit card is racking up points, pass those perks along to your workers.

Give local business discounts.

Partner with a neighboring merchant to offer discounts to each other’s employees. For example, if your team likes to hit a nearby bar for happy hour, strike a mutual discount deal with that owner. Now your employees have a place to mingle and build team rapport, all while enjoying discounted drinks. Find out which local outlets your team likes—it might be a gym, a salon, or a restaurant—and cater to their interests.

Allow for flexible work arrangements.

There are so many ways to communicate to workers that their work/life balance matters. Relax the dress code. Offer telecommuting options. Allow for flexible hours. Celebrate summer by allowing workers to leave early on Friday. When employees feel content with the balance in their lives, their more likely to be productive at work. If you hire millennials, take note that they are far less loyal and place work/life balance at the top of their priority list.

Plan in-office happy hours.

Treating the whole team to a few rounds at a bar can add up quick. But you can offer the same quality of drinks if you bring your own bar to work. Celebrate the team with an in-office happy hour, complete with beer, signature cocktails, snacks, and music.

Provide professional development opportunities.

It may be out of reach to reimburse employees for school, but investing in their development is crucial for letting them know that you see their value. Affordable options include creating a mentorship program between newer employees and those who have been in the business longer. You can also offer them a few paid hours a week to take an online class. Or hire an expert in the field to come in for an afternoon seminar.

Give store discounts.

Encourage your employees to shop with you. Even small discounts can go a long way.

Reward referrals.

If you’re looking to attract and retain great talent, reward employees who refer their friends to work with you. The same goes for building your customer base. Get your workers excited about attracting new customers by rewarding their outreach efforts.

Arrange a pleasant employee lounge.

Carve out a spot for a few comfy chairs and warm lighting so your staff has a designated area to take breaks, unwind, and catch up with colleagues.

Keep your staff’s interests in mind.

Above all, choose benefits that specifically meet the needs of your people. Hire a lot of students? Consider offering a cash bonus towards textbook purchases if employees stick with their job for a certain period. Do a lot of your staff have kids? Flexible hours can help them make their school pick up and drop off experience less hectic. And of course, re-evaluate with time as the lifestyles and needs of your people will change.

Need more help with HR and employee management? Check out the suite of apps by Homebase available to Clover merchants.


Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.