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15 Affordable Perks Startups Should Consider to Attract Quality Employees

Company perks can go a long way in attracting high-caliber employees, retaining them and creating a corporate culture that is positive for all involved. While a lean startup may not have the funds for an extravagant breakfast bar every week, they can offer employees perks that matter in an inexpensive way. What employee perks should a startup consider that won’t break the bank? Fifteen entrepreneurs offered their favorite ideas.


A. Reputation of Success


This is a perk you can’t purchase and takes years to build. I’ve seen people take pay cuts to work for a company they believe in. I’ve made a name for myself over my two decades of service in digital marketing and my startup is an award-winning firm with under 10 employees. What attracted some of our most talented team members was our reputation as a dedicated company that delivered results. - Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com


A. Yoga


Once a month, we take time out of our busy schedules to come together and participate in an in-house yoga session. Not only do these sessions help reduce stress and improve alertness, it’s also a great chance for team members to take a breather together and relax. “When mind, body and soul are in harmony, happiness is the natural result,” as Deepak Chopra said. - Stephen Ufford, Trulioo


A. Work Schedule and Location Flexibility


If it’s appropriate for your business, offer employees flexible schedules and the ability to work remotely. When we were building our team, we learned that many of our hires chose us over other recruiting firms because they liked the freedom afforded by these options. Thanks to those perks, we scooped up some of the best talent in the area, and they’re happy working when and where they prefer. - Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments


A. Allowing Pets to Work


We had one employee who was feeling, in her words, “momma guilt” for leaving her dog at home all day and then rushing home after work to let her out. Our suggestion? Bring the dog in! After a one-day trial run, our office is now pet friendly. Pets play an important role into employee well-being, and it’s a no cost perk for lean startups — just make sure they’re potty trained and well behaved. - Brett Farmiloe, Markitors - Digital Marketing Company


A. Flexible Vacation Time


Flexible vacation time does not mean more or unlimited vacation time, so it’s not breaking the bank. Employees shouldn’t feel bad about taking time off; it should actually be encouraged and your business should come with a great plan for managing someone’s work while they’re away. A lot of startups offer “unlimited vacation,” but it comes with red tape and hurdles. Get rid of the hurdles and you’ll stand out. - Andrew Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings


A. Comfortability in the Workspace


One thing startups can do that will attract new employees to their business is allowing a casual dress code environment. This allows both the employee and the company to not break the bank with purchasing new clothing for work or providing a stipend for work dress. It encourages a relaxed atmosphere, where everyone can work comfortably. - Stanley Meytin, True Film Production


A. 401(k) Retirement Plan


A 401(k) for an entire company can cost the same or even less than a weekly team lunch. High-caliber job candidates are looking for thoughtful, long-term benefits that are financially effective, commensurate with what larger companies are offering, and aren’t frivolous. It shows you’re a stable company that’s ready for growth, and is also a great way for both employees and employers to save on taxes. - Roger Lee, Captain401


A. Support for Health and Fitness


Offering some sort of compensation or support for health and fitness has been very well received by my team. Prices for things like gym memberships can be intimidating, but are more manageable when purchased in bulk. We use a service called ThrivePass, which allocates each team member a modest budget to use on health-related expenses of their choice, and has been phenomenal for our company culture. - Ryan Wilson, FiveFifty


A. Learning Opportunities


Bring someone on site to teach your employees skills they want to learn, or offer a stipend for them to attend workshops and conferences that are going to improve their job performance. The best employees want to learn and do better, and an employer who offers that opportunity is going to be much more attractive to them. - Kevin Conner, BroadbandSearch


A. Allowing Work on Personal Projects


The founder of Twitter initially built a wholly different startup. However, his pet project seemed to ignite his passion more than the other startup. Knowing that his backers wouldn’t be happy, he gave them back all their money so that he could focus all his energy on Twitter. They lost out. We know that their enthusiasm is essential, so our team members can complete their own projects at work. - Cody McLain, SupportNinja


A. A Fully Stocked Kitchen


Keeping the kitchen full of groceries and the fridge full of beverages is a win-win situation. For employees, they get to spend less of their own money on food, and they make fewer trips out of the office to get something to eat. For employers, this keeps your employees focused while maximizing their time. - Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench


A. Passion Project


When hiring top talent, you’re often seeking people with unique perspectives, experiences and passions. Go a step beyond autonomy and allow them to identify a side project that is related to the company, but separate from their typical day-to-day goals. Support and work with them to track key success metrics. This can add significant value to your company, while making the role more rewarding. - Ben Larson, Gateway


A. Trust


About two years ago, we decided to make 100 percent of our team salaried, and to stop tracking employee hours. We just trust that everyone will do their best and deliver on their commitments. Our people are able to create schedules that work for their lives. They feel trusted and respected. It’s had an incredibly positive impact on our company culture and our team’s overall morale. - Andrey Kudievskiy, Distillery


A. Resting Lounges


You’ve always loved to indulge in a power nap between projects and breaks. Some countries are making resting lounges incorporated with their office space a mandate after work/sleep health related medical crises. The overtime situation in Japan has been so severe that the Japanese government had to issue mandatory clock out times and mandatory yearly vacation periods. - Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure


A. Self-Management


The best people know how to manage themselves, so give them the freedom to be their own boss. Use a project management tool to help them keep track of tasks and keep you updated. Give them clear goals but other than that, let them run free. - Jared Atchison, WPForms



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These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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