October 12, 2020
13 Low-Cost Employee Perks to Attract and Retain Top Talent

You’ve probably seen some of the data indicating that people are emphasizing work-life balance more than ever. This means they’re searching for employee perks and benefits that help them achieve this. 

A survey by Fractl asked participants how heavily they would weigh the options when deciding between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with more perks. They found that (unsurprisingly) better health, dental, and vision insurance topped the list, with 88% of respondents saying they would give “some consideration” (34%) or “heavy consideration” (54%) when choosing a job. 

As a small or medium business owner, you may read this and immediately see dollar signs, but hear us out! You can offer workers other great perks without breaking the bank

In fact, many employees are just searching for perks that improve their lifestyle and finances—many of which are low-cost to employers. Particularly important to parents are flexibility and work-life balance. They value these even above salary and health insurance in a potential job, according to a survey by FlexJobs.

Another benefit to your company is that offering some great low-cost employee perks and benefits can give a lower-paying job an edge over a high-paying job with fewer benefits. 

Read on to learn why perks matter and check out our list of some of the most coveted things you can offer employees below.

Why Job Perks Matter

Before diving in, it’s important to note the difference between benefits and perks:

  • Benefit: A form of non-wage compensation that is often included in the employment contract
  • Perk: A nice-to-have addition to salary and wages that may come and go

Perks are an important part of maintaining and/or improving employee engagement and therefore, revenue growth. It’s no secret that highly engaged employees lead to a more profitable business: A Gallup poll found that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform low-engagement organizations financially by 202%!

There are many more stats to back this up, but the bottom line is that employers need to listen to and act on what employees want in order to compete in today’s job market. It will help you both attract and retain top talent.

It is also easier and less costly to cut perks instead of salaries if the company falls on hard times. Bruce Elliot, manager of compensation and benefits at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), told The Washington Post, “When a downturn does come, employees view it much more harshly when we cut salary versus cutting a benefit.”

13 Low-Cost Employee Perks

Below is a list of low-cost employee benefits that can help your company: 

  • Improve employee morale and performance.
  • Increase employee retention.
  • Recruit highly-skilled and talented candidates.

Flexible Schedules

The ability to work a flexible schedule is becoming increasingly important to employees. In the Fractl survey, 88% of respondents said they’d give some or heavy consideration to a job offering flexible hours.

The traditional 9 to 5 workday no longer works for everyone. If their roles and responsibilities allow, let employees choose hours that work best for their schedules. This could help them avoid the rush hour and more easily attend to family responsibilities.

Allowing flexible schedules could also enable your business to open earlier and stay open later. Plus, by doing so, you’re sending a message to employees that you trust them to get their jobs done regardless of hours.

Be sure to plan with your human resources department to evaluate if flexible schedules are a good fit for your business and to implement a corporate-wide policy.


Telecommuting is another employee perk in high demand among today’s workers. While remote working may not be possible for every business or job, its benefits like increased productivity and retention are worth considering.

Employers may choose to allow complete remote work, opening themselves up to a much larger talent pool. Others may permit working from home occasionally or on a set schedule. Either way, telecommuting lets employees choose their work environment and reduces their commuting time and expenses. As a bonus, it is an environmentally friendly practice!

This is another policy to carefully consider and implement with the help of your HR team. You’ll want to establish clear processes and expectations with employees.

Unlimited PTO

Did you know that Americans leave $224 billion in unused vacation time every year? Not only do you have to pay for an employee’s days off, but you could also be liable to pay out their unused vacation time if they leave the company. 

Offering unlimited PTO can benefit both employees and your business. This policy means you won’t have to pay workers who quit or get laid off for their unused time. Research shows that eliminating the average vacation liability can save companies $1,898 per employee

Additionally, a SHRM study found that less than 5% of companies offer unlimited vacation time. Offering this perk can make your organization more attractive to potential candidates and sends a message of trust to your existing employees.

Flex Days Off

Whether your company isn’t quite ready to implement an unlimited PTO policy or it simply doesn’t work for your business requirements, there is another option. Consider awarding employees with paid days off. This is a popular and fairly inexpensive perk. 

You don’t have to provide free PTO days too frequently. Use them as incentives for things like quarterly sales competitions, or award one to a staff member who goes above and beyond by completing a big project early and under budget.

Paid Parental Leave

Establishing a good family leave policy is yet another way to support your employees’ work-life balance and strengthen retention. 

According to the Fractl survey, 25% of women said they’d give parental leave heavy consideration when choosing a job. It is also important to make sure your family leave policy complies with current state and federal mandates.

Expanded Health Benefits

Since healthcare is increasingly expensive and a top priority for employees, consider how you can help ease that burden for them. Relatively inexpensive add-ons to health insurance plans include:

  • Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance

With an FSA, you can even place a cap on how much an employee can elect. These additional health benefits can go a long way in helping many of your employees financially.

Health & Wellness Perks

As people choose to focus more on their overall health, fitness and wellness perks are becoming more important to employees. Plus, it shows them that you care about their well-being. 

A few examples of health and wellness perks include:

  • Fitness classes
  • Flu shots
  • Health coaching services
  • An office gym
  • Weight-loss programs
  • Health club or gym memberships
  • Yoga classes
  • Bicycles
  • Fitness wearables

Group wellness and fitness programs can also encourage employee engagement across all departments and levels. It’s healthy and helps with team building!

Student Loan & Tuition Assistance

Student loan and tuition assistance is another in-demand perk that not many companies are offering. Just under half of the respondents in the Fractl survey said these employee benefits could entice them to accept a lower-paying job. 

Worried about the cost of this perk? Thanks to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, employers can provide up to $5,250 per employee each year for tuition tax-free through December 2025. This is a great way to support employees’ career development and encourage retention. Assisting with student loans can also help your company recruit and retain college graduates.

Note that $5,250 is the combined limit for loan repayment and any other education assistance.

Dog-friendly Workplace

Although this won’t be possible at all companies, allowing employees to bring their well-behaved pups to work can boost morale and encourage team building. This could mean regular bring-your-dog-to-work days or an entirely dog-friendly office.

You might want to give this one a test run for a day. It’s also important to have a policy in place to protect your business, employees, and their four-legged friends.

Employee Discounts

Depending on your business, you might consider offering discounts to employees on your own products or products from your suppliers. Some office equipment suppliers offer reduced rates for things like personal computers to employees. 

This can boost employees’ pride in the company and their own work. Plus, if people are going around with your branded products, it’s essentially an inexpensive marketing opportunity!

Summer Hours

Many of us struggle with staying motivated and productive during the summer months when it’s beautiful outside and we’ve got vacation on the brain. Boost employee morale and give them some extra time to take in the longer days or spend time with family and friends with half-day Fridays. If that doesn’t work for your company, try closing an hour or two early. 

Paid Volunteer Time

A growing number of companies are offering to pay regular wages up to a certain number of hours to workers who perform community service. Millennials especially value this innovative employee perk. It can also have positive effects on your business by:

  • Strengthening employee pride in their work and their employer.
  • Demonstrating that your business not only cares but actively works to make a difference.
  • Building a positive relationship between your company and the community.
  • Fostering employee interaction and team building by working together for a good cause.

Commuting Assistance

For employees who have long drives, require public transportation, or have to pay for parking, commuting costs can add up quickly. Employers can provide commuting assistance via: 

  • Stipends for public transit 
  • Stipends for gas mileage
  • Free or subsidized parking

Boost Productivity & Retention with Employee Perks

For many job candidates, it is no longer all about the salary or wages. We’re seeing a talent pool that values work-life balance and is willing to take jobs that pay less, but offer more lifestyle and financial freedom.

Employers need to offer a complete package to show existing staff that they care and to recruit the best future candidates. While some of these employee perks and benefits may suit your company better than others, employee appreciation doesn’t necessarily require a significant investment.

If you need additional guidance or help to create policies for employee perks, contact BlueLion today at 603-818-4131 or info@bluelionllc.com.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.