With all the changes to benefits and health insurance over the past few years, businesses both big and small are struggling to meet the financial requirements associated with employment. As healthcare begins to take a larger piece of the human resource budget, companies are being forced to reduce budgets for nontraditional employment benefits, such as company culture. Unfortunately, this can cause a recruiting and retention nightmare, costing the company even more money. The good news is there are plenty of ways to build a company culture on a budget. If you have a good handle on the culture you want to build or sustain, then it can be pretty simple to get creative with some ideas to support it. A winning company culture can be all the difference when attempting to recruit top talent.
Most group health insurance plans come with a built-in wellness plan. The trouble is, human resource professionals usually leave it up to the individual to utilize these benefits and individuals rarely take the initiative to do so. If your company offers a group plan, contact the provider regarding free or heavily discounted wellness perks. Providers often visit worksites offering free nutrition classes, cooking demonstrations, or health screenings. It’s all a part of their marketing budget and free for you to use.
Another idea is to utilize some of the incentives offered by wellness programs and create a game or competition in the office. Some of the included wellness plans offer cash incentives or prizes for meeting certain weight loss goals. You can really take this and run with it by creating team names and letting them decorate their team workspaces. You can even do a fun weekly weigh in in the break room. It’s a creative way to take full advantage of provider benefits at no additional cost to you.
If you don’t have a wellness program built in to your benefit packages, then you can always make your own. You can make your own weight loss challenge with a nominal cash buy in and on top of the cash winnings, perhaps you throw in a group prize to the winning team, such as a new coffee maker or the option to wear jeans to work for the next week. You can also invite a yoga instructor to hold a class in an unused room during lunch time in exchange for a discounted employee rates. Being creative tends to generate some of the best company culture ideas around!
Company Parties and Celebrations
You don’t have to book an expensive venue or band for your next holiday party. Shift gears and think less expensive. The idea here is to have fun and facilitate relationships amongst staff and families. Try a company picnic with employees and their families at a nearby park or lake. You can purchase a few drugstore kites and frisbees to create your own games or competitions. You can even have a food cookoff to help offset the cost of food and catering and create some friendly competition.
As far as mini awards you give away throughout the year, opt for small personal gestures, rather than large cash awards or gift cards. Have a little surprise parade sent to your employee of the month, and rather than a cash, maybe get them a less expensive gift, that is personal. Find out what they are interested in, and get them a gift that reflects you care. For instance, if the employee is a huge stamp collector, maybe get them a stamp book.
Training and Continuing Education
It’s always so difficult to build interest between departments or even entice employees to read the new training and policies. A great way to build rapport and make education fun is to either have the managers or a staff make a silly little video with the information. It’s a great way to show a lighter side, while building relationships and familiarity between departments. There is no better way to learn, than to teach, right? You can even incorporate these videos into your onboarding schedule as you explain continuity and standard operating procedures. If you own a smartphone, you’ve got all the equipment you need to produce these videos.
It’s a well-established fact, that the most important factor in employee retention is work satisfaction. The only way to decipher how well your company is doing in this regard is to get feedback from the employees. This can be difficult when utilizing online surveys or companywide meetings, as employees often feel intimidated to speak openly. The trouble is, most human resource departments are spread thin, and don’t have the time to directly communicate or engage with most employees after the onboarding process. A inexpensive way to solve this problem is to create a volunteer committee that acts as a liaison between the employees and the human resource department. Employees are much more likely to open up to fellow employees and if you have a representative from each department, you’ll get a good overall idea of how you are doing and what tweaks need to be made. You can also come to them for help with planning company parties and incentives. Another advantage is how it allows you to be in the know about what is happening with employees on a personal level. If there is a death in the family or someone’s daughter got into an ivy league university, a committee liaison will know about it and convey the information to human resources, who can in turn send out cards or flowers.
Community involvement is becoming less of a perk, and more of a necessity for most businesses. While some companies can afford to allow employees to spend billable hours volunteering, there are less expensive ways to provide a sense of unity and purpose, if money is tight.
Host a group community involvement event on a non-work day on a volunteer basis. Offer a prize, such as a 3 hour early let out on the following Friday for the department who clocks the most volunteer hours. This is a great cost saver. Rather than paying for every employee to volunteer for an eight-hour shift, you are limiting billable hours to one department and for only a few hours.
If that is still a bit out of budget, opt to have a fundraiser or companywide drive. This is free to do and doesn’t require any work to be done during billable hours, but can contribute to an employee’s feeling of purpose.
When choosing a community involvement project, be sure to make it as relevant as possible to your mission and industry. For instance, if you run an accounting firm, perhaps you partner with a STEM based nonprofit. If your company deals with green products, then have a booth at an Earth Day event or do block clean ups. These kinds of community activities are great material for recruiters and interviewers to utilize when selling the company culture.