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Non-Cash Employee Benefits and Programs

Cathy Roth
Posted by Cathy Roth on May 24, 2021 12:34:30 PM

I've had a lot of errands to run the past few days, which led to giving in to the temptation of eating out. And so, I must confess that I took advantage of the drive thru at our local McDonald's. I was astounded at the number of signs that basically begged for people to join their workforce.

If you've been reading the recent headlines, y0u might be confused as to the current status of employment and labor shortages.. Last week, in response to a Bank of America announcement, one writer wrote "Labor Shortage Will Push Wages Higher, According to Bank of America" while another wrote "The Myth of Labor Shortages."

What should you do based on these articles? Nothing. As an accountant or bookkeeper, your goal is to let writers and others battle over the national workforce status and meet your clients where they are currently. Are they struggling with a shortage of workers? If so, you can help them analyze their position and then intentionally define the wages they are able to pay. 

Getting back to McDonald's, most of the signs I saw were offering unusually high pay. But there were also two other signs that caught my eye - "Premium Pay on Weekends" and "Choose Your Shifts." Those two signs got me thinking. 

When you are working with a client who is struggling with worker shortages, don't let your conversation end with whether or not they are having shortages and how much they can pay those workers. Instead, brainstorm with them how to add non-compensation benefits that may be equally, or more, valuable than cash and that will attract workers.

If your clients are not facing labor shortages, the same ideas also work well for developing skills and loyalty and ultimately for retaining workers. Here are some ideas to get your brain started on options that will work best for you and your clients. 

1. Work Flexibility - Many workers appreciate the flexibility to choose when and how they work. Here are some options:

  • Shift workers: Offering the option to choose when workers want to work, including the option of it being a "set" schedule or one that varies with their changing needs, is a simple benefit. This option does require more management planning, but it is no-cost, medium burden benefit that workers appreciate. 
  • Flexible daily start time: Allowing workers to choose when they want their day to start gives them control over their job, allows them to manage family demands such as getting kids to (or from) school and lets them work during the hours they are most productive. This option is a no-cost, no burden benefit that is good for workers and for the business which typically sees increased productivity. If needed for collaboration, management can set core business hours (for example, 11 am - 3 pm) during which all workers need to be at work.
  • Unlimited PTO: Many companies have experimented with unlimited paid time off, including Woodard Events, and have discovered that productivity increases without an increase in vacation or sick time. Unlimited PTO works best for teams that are results oriented and have high levels of individual and team accountability. 

2. Training programs - In general, people thrive when they have the skills needed to not only do their jobs competently but to learn advanced skills as well. And with the growth of free on-line training, this one is a no-brainer. Some businesses may already have access to programs geared for their workers, but others may have to search out programs. Either way, businesses and workers benefit from this no- to low-cost, low- to medium-burden benefit. 

3. Mentor programs - Mentor programs pair experienced individuals with newer individuals. These types of programs can be driven by already established community or industry programs or can be developed in-house. Businesses can offer mentors to workers identified to progress in the company or can build required mentor programs to onboard new workers. Onboarding mentorship specifically creates a work learning culture, reduces the cost of learning and decreases stress and anxiety. Depending on how a mentor program is deployed, it can range from no- to high- cost with a low- to high-burden. 

4. Wellness programs and wellness support - Wellness programs aren't necessarily about an expensive installation of a gym. Instead, companies can do many things that range in cost and burden. Here are a few ideas: 

  • No-cost: Encourage "walking meetings" where team members can walk (in-person or via phone) while they hold meetings, provide a space for employees to share healthy recipes, create opportunities during the day for fun and laughter or schedule & deliver regular wellness, physical health and mental health tips and motivational quotes.
  • Variable-cost: Provide standing desks, offer smoking cessation programs, provide access to a local gym or allow flex time to be used for going to the gym or participating in sports activities.

5. Team bonding events - Offering ways for your team members to bond does not have to involve paying a company to come in and conduct dreaded team building exercises. There are many things you can do for no- to low-cost. 

  • Create special interest clubs. Using any team collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, create a vehicle for people with similar interests to connect around their special interests. Knitting? Technopunk music? Broadway?
  • Have a field day. Close up shop early and head to a local park for frisbee or nerf wars,  relaxing in the sun (or shade) or walking the trails and then wrapping the afternoon up with a cook out and still get your team home at a decent hour. 
  • Plan classic game breaks. Schedule a two hour block of time where everyone can get together to play classic board or card games and get to know each other. For remote teams, you can plan virtual game or movie nights. 
  • Engage the team as producers, personalities and editors of your very own "mockumentary" by channel your favorite work based series or movie, such as The Office. 

Topics: Operational Advisory


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