In a post-pandemic world, the ability to work from home is no longer a corporate perk. For many, it’s just the norm! Of course, this is just one of the many shifts in office culture that business owners should be prepared for with changing expectations from employees.
Things like flex hours, Summer Fridays, casual dress codes, remote work, and an emphasis on prioritizing mental and physical health are all becoming increasingly popular features of a workplace, both in small businesses and larger corporate companies.
We tapped entrepreneurs to weigh in on the work perks and incentives that are becoming the norm and how small business owners adapt their office culture accordingly.
Create an atmosphere of “virtual togetherness.”
“When it comes to remote work, connectivity is everything. Even though employees aren’t sharing an office, they still want to feel a sense of togetherness. At Here Comes The Guide, one of our core values is, you don’t need to be under one roof to be together. We’ve come up with lots of tools to make sure we still feel like a cohesive team, including our virtual office (which is super fun and even has a fitness center and a tiki lounge!), our Google Chat break room, and biannual company retreats. We also put together online events like bingo nights and book clubs to nurture our relationships outside of the office.”
Encourage mental and physical health during the workday.
“One of the best perks we offer our employees is a flexible schedule. Many of us are moms, so it comes in handy for school pick-ups and doctor appointments, but it also encourages the staff to take vitalizing breaks. Some of us take tennis lessons or barre classes in the middle of the day, while others simply take a walk in the fresh air or a quick pre-meeting bubble bath! The last thing we want is for our team to experience burnout, or worse, breakdowns. So we highly encourage prioritizing our health during business hours, which leads to happier and more productive employees.”
Model good work/life balance.
“We can talk about the importance of work/life balance, but if our actions say that we expect our employees to be on call 24/7, then that promise is empty. Encourage employees to start and stop their days at regular times—they should put away the email and laptop after hours. And management should do the same: never texting, calling, or expecting an answer outside of the regular workday. A well-rested staff is a smart, productive staff. Actions speak loudly on this point and being true to your word here is key to protecting this important part of your company culture.”
Access to coaching.
“As employees continue to navigate the seemingly never-ending uncertainty of the pandemic, offering them the opportunity to work 1:1 with a coach gives them the specific, tailored support they need to navigate both work and their personal life. This perk used to only be available to senior executives, but the most progressive companies are now offering coaching to employees at all levels.”
—Natalie Underdown, Ph.D., Executive Coach, and Organizational Psychologist, The Nu Company
Employee referrals (with retention bonuses).
“Finding high-caliber employees is not easy. Incentivize your current employees to help you not only find, but retain, the best of the best by having a robust employee referral program that includes a bonus for the existing employee when the new employee stays at least 15 months.”
Support the whole person while aligning with the company’s values.
“Does your company make pet products? Offer a certain number of Doggy Daycare passes a month. Maybe you’re a clean beauty brand? Offer free consultations with a holistic dermatologist once a year. Think about the things that are important to your brand and business and then offer creative ways to support your employees in thoughtful ways that align with those values and also make their lives better/easier in some way.”
Put flexibility first.
“If you can’t trust your employees to get their work done, why are they your employees? In 2022, flexibility will go from a perk to a way of being.”
Designated team meetings or in-office times/days.
“Expect teams to coordinate in-office meeting times or specific days to get that 1:1 face time that so many are craving.”
“In a post-pandemic world, the ability to work from home is no longer a corporate perk.”
Image: Courtesy of Leila Lewis
Feature image: Smith House Photo