I am sure you have heard that old saying about how little things mean a lot. It really does ring true when it comes to employing and keeping the right people. We have been in recruitment since 2005, and between us we have years of experience, so honestly, we can tell you this in all confidence. When people tell us about the great jobs they have had in the past, they rarely mention the money, it's always something else. If you want to test that out, ask someone casually what was the best job they ever had and why. My guess is they will tell you about it in the same way they would talk about a favourite car or their best holiday. They will tell you about the little things that made it brilliant.
I am not talking about work-life balance here either. That tends to be a bigger decision that people make and features their career, family life, hobbies, and health to name a few factors. What can really make a difference to people is often the smallest of perks.
In a competitive market where many sectors are seeing a skills gap, it is tempting to throw money at something in the hope it will resolve itself. The problem is, that if your rate is at a suitable level, money isn’t going to make a great deal of difference because your budget isn’t likely to stretch to a level where you can offer thousands extra. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer extra. Little things can be what swings an employee's decision and once they have that thing they really value they tend not to want to let it go. Let me give you a few examples of things we have seen and heard about over the years that employees really loved.
• Good eating and drinking. A nice kitchen area with somewhere to sit and eat away from your desk is fantastic. If you have the room, why not make a breakout area with some comfortable seating. As a bonus, these kinds of areas often generate work discussions that improve culture and morale.
• Free parking in a staff car park - with enough room! It seems such a small thing, but many employees enjoy knowing they will not need to fight for a parking space every morning. A little walk from the car in summer is quite nice but in the middle of January, with the rain belting down and wind howling, knowing you can park when you arrive really makes people very happy.
• Take your birthday off on us! Some businesses build in a free birthday day off into contracts for their employees. There’s normally a very strict rule about only being able to take it on, or on the next available day to your birthday though because it was a present, a gift from the business to say thank you for working there. Not surprisingly, it works wonders for the staff retention rate.
• Socials that everyone could take part in. Not everyone loves the big boozy bash, so some companies with enough staff to make it worthwhile doing so have started offering an alternative to the Christmas turkey and hangover event. Camping, sports events and lunch, or private movie screenings and company picnics for employees with lots of kids' things going on are some alternative examples.
• Unexpected ‘thank you’ moments. The thing about these though is not to make a fuss about them. They should just be a little card and a gift voucher that says, ‘we know you did a lot this month’, ‘well done on one hundred percent attendance this year’ or a bottle of wine for someone who really helped in a crisis. No presentations, no employee of the week poster, just a genuine little private thank you that makes people feel valued.
The fact is, small things like this can make a real difference to the way an employee sees the business. They may be small, but in terms of loyalty and commitment to the job, they are huge.