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3 Small Businesses Using Culture to Create Unique Employee Benefits

Everyone knows that big companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix offer some incredible perks of employment, but what about small businesses? Can the so-called “little guys” compete on perks without deep pockets?

As it turns out, the answer is ‘yes’.

These days, small businesses are offering unique employee benefits that leverage their company culture in combination with basics like medical, dental, and vision coverage. This two-pronged approach attracts the right candidates, as well as those individuals that are the best cultural fit for an organization. In addition, this strategic approach also helps differentiate small businesses from the competition, and goes a long way towards improving employee retention and engagement.

So, which small businesses are leading the way with innovative employee benefits that reflect their company culture and core values? Keep reading to find out.

3 Small Businesses With Awesome Perks

#1 – Mattermark
Employees: Less than 50

“I don’t want people to think coming to work is a chore. My dad taught me the importance of this growing up. So when I had the opportunity to build my own company, I wanted to make sure coming to work felt great.”
– Andy Sparks, co-founder and COO, Mattermark

Mattermark co-founder Andy Sparks hates ping pong tables.

“They’re a trite replacement for authentic company culture,” he states, referring to the popular startup perk. “We deliver our values to employees in more meaningful ways.”

At Mattermark, one of those meaningful ways is a generous parental leave policy for both new moms and dads. This forward-thinking practice translates to twelve weeks of paid parental leave for both men and women, equivalent to paid parental leave for men at Google.

So, how’d the small business swing such a generous parental leave policy?

Mattermark leveraged a California law that subsidizes a percentage of an employee’s salary for six weeks after the arrival of a child, and then paid for an additional two weeks of leave out of pocket. Employees then have the option of adding on Mattermark’s four weeks of paid time off, which ultimately amounts to a total of twelve weeks of paid parental leave. In the U.S., where only 12% of people have access to paid parental leave, Mattermark’s program stands out.

For Mattermark, the parental leave policy is an employee benefit, a means through which to reinforce their culture, and a core company belief: that employees should lead full lives outside of work. For small businesses with limited resources, this kind of benefit-culture connection is extremely important because it differentiates Mattermark from competition and weeds out candidates who don’t possess the same core values.

#2 – AnyPerk

“Work-life balance is difficult. Perks aren’t just a nice-to-have, but a way for companies to acknowledge all of your hard work.”
– Tiffany Durinski, AnyPerk

AnyPerk provides software that helps employers recognize and reward employees.
Due to the nature of their product, they’ve invested a great deal of time in exploring the connection between company culture and outstanding employee benefits.

“We place a huge emphasis on culture here,” says Nicole Ossey, Head of Recruiting and HR at AnyPerk. “Our three core values are build trust like a family, own the results, and be delightfully quirky,” she shares. Using their culture as a starting point, Ossey says employee benefits at AnyPerk revolve around making work-life balance easier to attain. There’s also emphasis on creating a work environment that feels less like a business and more like a family. To that end, the company offers catered lunch to all forty-two employees four days a week, commuter benefits, and unlimited paid time-off. They also leave time for ample recognition of their diverse workforce.

“Each quarter, we have awards called The Quirkies. This gives us a chance to recognize three team members who demonstrate one of our key values that quarter,” Ossey states.

The connection between culture and rewards is a strong one. But how does AnyPerk know this works? According to Ossey, the company has a committee that meets once a week to discuss culture, distill employee feedback, and find ways to improve.

#3 – Watsi

“The most important thing for us has been to start building a more explicit culture by finding tangible ways to show our team how much we appreciate them that reflect both our mission and the cultural values they already embody that we love.”
– Grace Garey, Co-Founder of Watsi

Watsi connects patients in need of medical treatment with donors willing to pay for it via the web. The company launched back in 2012, and was the first non-profit backed by YCombinator. Today, Watsi is a fast-growing startup with a small group of employees. Even with a million things happening at once, the team still takes the time to think of innovative ways to reward their employees. One of those rewards happens on the one year anniversary of employment with Watsi, when each employee receives a ticket to travel to any destination in the world.

“We decided to do this because we want people to travel for work and for fun. Watsi is about connecting people, and making the world better by making it smaller,” says Grace Garey, Co-founder of Watsi.

“Other benefits we offer include frequent travel to meet Watsi patients and hospital partners around the world, regular happy hours with Watsi donors, and monthly dinners hosted at a new team member’s home each time.” With this approach, Watsi is hoping to attract and retain people who love what makes Watsi unique: a global focus, engaged users, and a team of passionate people.

Cover the Basics, Delight with Unique Perks

Building a strong company culture goes a long way towards developing meaningful perks that attract the right candidates. These three small businesses are evidence of that. But before developing perks around culture, employers must first provide basic benefits: health insurance coverage, commuter benefits, and flexible spending accounts.

For a small business, managing those benefits alone leave little time for HR teams to focus on the perks that make their business stand out. That’s where tools like Zenefits can help. By providing one online dashboard for employee benefits administration tools, HR teams can dramatically simplify the benefits enrollment process–and the maintenance that goes into it–freeing up valuable time to focus on cultivating those unique perks that keep them competitive.

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