It’s all in the breakfast bagel

A little benefits creativity goes a long way when recruiting.
By Mark Laurie and Nathan Laurie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/23/2001

There has been a lot of press lately about employees getting stuck with a load of worthless stock options in lieu of salary. All of a sudden those dream jobs at high-flying companies promising unlimited upsides have become low wage experiences.

The stock market is not immune to the laws of gravity and has shown that what goes up can come down. Companies looking to recruit top talent must get creative because the days of wooing candidates with stock options are gone. As a result, many recruiters are now touting the advantages of their benefits program. The trend today is for companies to make their employees’ personal lives easier so they can put more time into their work.

The basics

A strong benefits program starts with the basics: dental, medical and life insurance. Many companies are adding in perks like $500 worth of physiotherapy, prescription eyeglasses, private or semi-private hospitalization, out-of-country coverage and critical illness insurance.

Having a group insurance plan in place is important for companies that are trying to attract top talent. It also sends a message to existing employees that management cares about them. However, it takes more than the basic insurance plan to differentiate your company from the competition.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

As children, we are taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As adults, a typical breakfast includes cold toast and coffee as we race out the door. Companies have realized that the way to an employee’s heart can be through the stomach.

Serving your employees a continental breakfast every morning starts the day off on the right foot. For less than $2 per employee you can feed your staff and put them in a positive frame of mind at the start of the day. It gives people the chance to mingle with others in a casual environment. Many companies set breakfast up either in their front foyer or the cafeteria. Finding a supplier is relatively easy for this type of service. Look for the nearest Great Canadian Bagel and chances are they will deliver all of the essentials to your office first thing in the morning. Another benefit of breakfast at the office is that you can make it available from 7:00 until 8:30 so there is an incentive to arrive early.

Ask Jeeves

How much time do you spend on mundane tasks like dry cleaning, grocery shopping, car repairs and restaurant reservations? Would you like to have a personal assistant who worked hard to make your life outside the office easier? Would you be able to focus more on your professional life if your personal life was less hectic? Well, innovative companies have keyed in on this fact and are now setting up corporate concierge services for all employees.

When you arrive at work you can hand your dry cleaning to the concierge and get it back at the end of the day. If your car needs maintenance just let the concierge know and it will be taken care of. Imagine all of the trivial tasks that eat away at your day and picture the corporate concierge taking care of them for you.

In Silicon Valley, a biotech firm is touting how their concierge will arrange to have a gourmet dinner for employees to take home. This service is provided for less than $10 per meal and many employees stress how it has improved the quality of their time at home.

Yoga classes

Ergonomically-correct offices help employees lead less stressful lives. The stand-up desk and kneeling chair are now common within corporate settings. Training your employees on techniques to relieve stress, relax muscles and sit properly will help to improve the dynamics within the office.

Yoga can help employees with sore backs and necks, provide a physical workout, increase flexibility and teach people how to control their bodies. Having an instructor come in at the end of the day and offer employees the opportunity to learn yoga will create a win-win situation. Employees get a convenient location to learn new skills and the organization receives the benefits of having employees who understand how their breathing, posture, and state of mind affects their productivity.

Assess situation, react accordingly

When developing a unique benefits plan it is important to take into consideration your circumstances and work around them. For instance, if you are in a rural area it might not be feasible to have yoga classes after hours. However, being out of the city could provide other opportunities like corporate memberships to local resorts. Every region has its own culture and the underlying theme is that companies need to tap into their community and build a culture that reflects their surroundings.

Mark Laurie and Nathan Laurie are the Ontario Young Entrepreneurs of the Year and the publishers of jobpostings, a student jobs magazine. They can be reached at (877) 900-5627 or mark@passiongroup.net.

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