3 Perks Every Startup Should Be Offering Employees

July 5, 2016, 9:02 PM UTC
Employees of start-up companies work at their designated spaces at the offices of 1776 business incubator in Washington DC, February 11, 2014. 1776 hosts about 185 start-ups in its offices. The incubator gives members a chance to take notes from high-profile entrepreneurs during what are known as lunch and learns. 1776 runs like a campus, with workshops, a communal kitchen and 24-hour access for members. 1776 was founded in January 2013 by Evan Burfield and Donna Harris, a pair of successful entrepreneurs with experience building companies and communities. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Mladen Antonov via AFP — Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question How important are employee perks when first launching your startup?” is written by Bruce Paul, CEO of Swivelfly.

When launching a startup, there are many additional pressures above and beyond those that CEOs at established companies face. As financial budgets are significantly smaller at the startup level, finding and hiring the right people for open positions is that much more urgent. That’s why so many early-stage and cash-strapped startups often rely on attracting top talent with enticing non-cash benefits that go beyond the standard 401K and insurance policy offerings.

Often, many larger companies spend too much time arguing over the best employee perks, such as free food and transportation, stipends, and gym memberships. While these types of perks do grab candidates’ attention, they aren’t guaranteed to keep employees around longer, nor will they be what the employees remember about their experience at a company.

A small startup team needs people committed to the idea of profitably growing the business—not shopping around for perks. This is what ultimately keeps an employee: working toward creating a successful business, believing in its products, and helping to make it the best organization in the marketplace.

Below are three benefits that you should consider offering to your employees that won’t cost you a dime:

Allow flexible work options
A simple way to increase employee satisfaction is to give them responsibility over their own time. When employees feel confined to one space to do work, they may not feel inspired or do their best work.

That is not to say that there shouldn’t be rules. Determine when your team should come together, and what tasks individuals working from home can complete. With clear goals, schedules, and priorities for both the individuals and the team, you are bound to have success with this policy.

Value everyone’s input
Employees who work in a culture of recognition are likelier to feel valued by senior management, according to Incentive Magazine. There’s also a greater percentage of shareholder return and employee satisfaction produced from companies whose employees work in this type of environment.

Working at a startup or a newer, smaller company can be a huge way for younger employees to feel empowered. They get a greater voice in the operations of the company and often receive more varied roles/responsibilities that they wouldn’t otherwise have at larger companies. This is also often where the best ideas can start. At Swivelfly, we recently had an entry-level marketing employee offer suggestions that ultimately made our website more responsive—allowing leads to be tracked easier than in the past. Sales personnel at our company didn’t like our way of presenting proposals, so they quickly worked with the graphic designer to improve this process.

Empowering your employees to have a voice that’s heard by senior team members isn’t just great for your bottom line, but it will motivate your team.


Give choices
Businesses must acknowledge that differing working styles do exist. With different generations laboring in the same workplace, creating a one-size-fits-all perk plan may not necessarily resonate with everyone in the same way.

Allow employees to pick and customize some of their benefits according to their needs, but with clear expectations of them in their role. Will they be more productive in their role if they were able to bring a pet into the office? Do they want to take a class each year to improve their skills?

Treat your employees like capable people whose voices are truly heard, and they will be just that. Flexibility and trust are the most essential perks that an engaged startup or small business can offer to its employees.