It’s National Leave the Office Early Day! So go ahead and pack up your stuff. Go home! No one can get mad!
If you haven’t already received (or issued) approval to leave early today, it’s probably not a great idea to do it. National Leave the Office Early Day isn’t a “real” national holiday we can assume to have off. It’s just one of those fun days like National Turtle Day (I’m serious) or National Bike to Work Day that is fun and allows for an extra perk if your company can swing it. It reminds us that extra employee benefits are available and can be powerful tools in boosting company morale and loyalty. Better yet, such extras come at relatively low cost to the employer. You can boost morale and not break the bank. That’s a win for all involved.
Our culture goes gaga over big company perks -- Google’s campus bicycles or Facebook’s video arcade, for example -- but offering such benefits isn’t feasible for American small businesses. Instead, we have to rely on more cost-effective ways that show we care about company culture and employee well-being.
In addition to observing the “silly” days like National Leave the Office Early Day, here are a few suggestions for building a creative benefits package that won’t break the bank:
OK, so you can’t build an onsite gym like these guys, but you might be able to swing reimbursing employees for gym memberships or setting up a corporate account at your local fitness center that provides employees discounted membership rates. You could organize a softball or kickball team that pulls the office together regularly for some friendly competition and exercise. The idea here is to incentivize healthy choices. Healthy employees are productive employees.
Never underestimate the power of a free lunch. Seriously, people love eating food they didn’t pay for. Sure, a gourmet cafeteria is out of your budget, but a well-stocked fridge full of snacks and sodas, or the occasional catered lunch, isn’t. One or our partners loves making lunch for our team, and you’ll regularly find BGW team members collaborating over bowls of ice cream in the company kitchen. Heading into the office is a lot more exciting when there is food waiting.
Again, this doesn’t have to be a major ordeal. Relatively simple, healthy, family-inclusive events offer employees the opportunity to bond away from the office at relatively low cost. You’ll often find the BGW team at Charlotte Knights games or participating in a local trivia night downtown. In addition, we’re big fans of taking the annual meeting off-site, where we attend to business matters in the morning and then recreate together in the afternoon. Whitewater rafting and go-kart racing have been two particular faves.
Perhaps the most cherished perk, and the one that costs employers virtually nothing, is allowing employees the luxury to work from home once a week or as needed based on family needs. This is a lifesaver to me as a mom with an infant. The time saved not commuting, the extra time with family...it goes a long, long way. In the same vein, flexible hours can make a world of difference to working parents. They demonstrate that you value the work-life balance of your team.
At the end of the day, remember that you don’t have to match the crazy perks offered by the big corporations. After all, working for a small company is its own reward, as employees get to make a big impact in all they do. But showing your employees, current and prospective, that you care about their well-being is important. Aim to build a thoughtful benefits package that includes meaningful perks without breaking the bank.
Now, go enjoy some time off (with approval)!