03.14.20167 min read

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: A Guide to Employee Happiness

I remember the day I filled out my first job application. It was back when I was 18 and ready to take over the world. I wanted to make my own money so I could buy extra goodies for myself without having to think twice, so I decided to apply at a clothing store at the local mall. After waiting by the phone for a few days, I finally got the call that offered me a retail commission sales position. Hooray! I was ready for this new adventure. Think back to when you got your first job. Can you list the company benefits you had? I definitely can’t, probably because I don’t remember having any. If you’re like me, perhaps your first job was a position where you only worked part-time and didn’t really qualify for any benefits or perks, and at that point in your life, that may not have mattered a whole lot. It was about having a job and being out in the real world. If you were to ask me how important benefits and perks are for me now, I’d tell you that it can be a game changer when it comes to deciding between different jobs.

Think back to when you got your first job. Can you list the company benefits you had? I definitely can’t, probably because I don’t remember having any. If you’re like me, perhaps your first job was a position where you only worked part-time and didn’t really qualify for any benefits or perks, and at that point in your life, that may not have mattered a whole lot. It was about having a job and being out in the real world. If you were to ask me how important benefits and perks are for me now, I’d tell you that it can be a game changer when it comes to deciding between different jobs.

The bumpy road ahead

If you’re an entrepreneur, having your own small business is what it’s all about. You thrive on challenges and making a difference in this world. So, frankly, benefits are probably the last thing on your mind. But, as your business grows and more people join the venture with you, you must consider the value of making your company a place that your employees love and establish a strong company culture.

When people talk about starting a business, they often focus on how to get from point A to point B; how to get the word out about their company and make sales. Overall, it’s about making money doing what you love, right? So picture yourself after being your own boss for a while and having had successes and failures. Like many entrepreneurs, you decide you need to hire some employees. I say smart move. It's about working smarter and not necessarily harder. So by having people help you get tasks done and keep your company on track, you can focus on the next big thing and continue to grow. That’s why we want to talk about employee benefits and perks which can create loyalty and stability in your business.

Loyalty is contagious

Entrepreneur.com has an article called "Forget Ping Pong and Snacks," which explains how some of the old school perks employees used to love may not be as effective anymore. With more companies offering unique things to their employees and combining them with a strong company culture, we need to think about what can truly create employee happiness. The example cited in the article is from Buffer. They have taken it to another level by providing unlimited free kindle books to their employees. Now, this may

The example cited in the article is from Buffer. They have taken it to another level by providing unlimited free kindle books to their employees. Now, this may sound "cool" to you, or maybe a bit on the spendy side, but it can mean a lot more than a cool perk to those working in your business. If your company has the privilege of working with people who love to read, providing them the tools to become a better and smarter person may be worth the cost.

The author of that article says “What makes Buffer’s perks and practices meaningful is that they’re not incidental to the task at hand but, rather, deeply connected to making the actual work more fulfilling and enriching to the team as a whole.” Ding, Ding! Not only are perks and incentives important to keep employees happy and excited to be a part of your company but let's not forget about  the health benefits.

"Show me the numbers!"

Here's where we look at some data to back us up. According to July 2015 report by the United States Department of Labor, Medical care benefits were available to 53 percent of private industry workers in establishments with less than 50 employees compared to 90 percent of workers in establishments with 500 or more workers.

The same report says that in the private industry, retirement benefits "were available to 31 percent of private industry workers in the lowest wage category (the 10th percentile). By contrast 88 percent of workers in the highest wage category (the 90th percentile) had access to retirement benefits."  Now, paid leave benefits followed a similar pattern. The difference was more noticeable in the availability of

Now, paid leave benefits followed a similar pattern. The difference was more noticeable in the availability of paid sick leave, which was offered to 53 percent of workers in small establishments and 84 percent in large establishments. 

Although most companies offer health benefits, not all offer matching 401K or things like tuition reimbursement. All these are important things to consider when drafting a benefits plan, as it could set you apart from the rest. Do what you can and make it a point to communicate everything clearly so that your employees are fully aware. And, if you can’t offer one thing, see if there’s an equivalent benefit that may make you unique and your employees happy to be a part of your entrepreneurial dream.

Thinking outside the (cereal) box

As an example that hits close to home, I want to mention a few things Infusionsoft does to create a great culture and help keep employees happy. While the company offers a great insurance package and Paid Time Off options, they provide different things that can set their company apart from the competition.

Things like a free monthly lunch for all the employees, incentives when sales goals are reached or exceeded, team fun days every few months, and even an array of cereal options for everyone to snack on whenever they please. I don’t mean to sound biased here, but I do appreciate the little things in life.

Doing your homework

As I mentioned above, there is data supporting the impact benefits and having a unique and special workplace can have on employees. It truly makes people want to be there and do an amazing job. Another article by Steve Goodman, CEO at Bright.com, points out the importance of making sure the people you hire are a good fit for your company. He knows it’s not easy and stresses the importance of doing your homework before you bring someone in. Goodman says “Attaining a culture fit should also be a top priority. Passing on a fantastic engineer or a stellar business-development manager because they won’t mix well with others at the company can be a smart business decision.” Simply ensure fit before you buy. So, get excited about what you can do to make your company unique and take your time when it comes to providing real benefits to your employees. Showing you sincerely care can go a long way.

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