By Gene Marks
For a small business, losing a good person can be extremely disruptive. Replacing that person takes time and resources. It puts pressure on all the other employees. It creates gaps in service that can seriously affect both sales and customer satisfaction. You can’t eliminate employee turnover – it inevitably happens, and in many cases it’s for reasons beyond our control. But as business owners we need to do everything we can to help our employees be happy – and enjoy the experience of working at our companies.
The good news is technology can play a helpful role in making that happen. Thanks to the cloud, quite a few cool online services have appeared over the past few years that offer services that employees love. Here are just a few examples:
People are struggling with the high cost of education and the Millennial generation – those 18-34 year olds – are among the hardest hit. For many, paying back a student loan can take decades. Innovative companies are stepping in to help. Large corporations and small are taking an active role in helping their employees pay back their education loans and great services like Tuition.io are popping up to help them improve their recruitment and reduce employee turnover. The online service manages the entire tuition reimbursement process – from administration to payment – so if you’re setting up a benefit program like this the service makes it extremely easy to manage.
AnyPerk has partnered with hundreds of national and local brands – from Orbitz to Panasonic to Zipcar to Major League Baseball - so that its customers can create a goody bag of “perks” (discounts, etc.) available to their employees and offer it to them in the form of rewards or straight benefits. Its Premium Plan starts at $950/month for 50 employees and comes with a boatload of cool features, including the ability of managers to offer rewards directly to employees, peer-to-peer giving, a system for recommending perks, analytics, and mobile capability. Other, less-expensive plans are also offered. Who wouldn’t want an ever-changing “goody bag” for your company? Having this kind of benefit not, whether from AnyPerk or another provider such as Working Advantage, only makes you stand out in the recruiting process, but also adds yet another reason for your good employees to stick around.
Verii is a unique vending machine service that your employees will love. It’s a “small footprint” snack system for your office. You order the products you want from their online portal and employees can select and pay via a mobile app. Of course, the usual candy and chips are available – but plenty of healthy goods are for sale too depending on where you’re located – from fruit to granola bars. The machine automatically notifies you when inventories are running low so you can reorder – you can mix up the products in your order every time too. There are options for any sized business and here’s the best thing: you can determine the pricing. So why not charge a little more and let your employees agree on a charity that will receive the extra proceeds?
Citi Thank You
There are many great credit card programs for small businesses and I bet that there are other programs that are better than Citibank’s Thank You Rewards cards… but I don’t care! I’ve been a member of this program for years and I like it a lot. Here’s why. You can get cards for your personal use and business use, as well as additional cards for employees to use, and all the points are consolidated in one account. The points are 1 for every $1 spent. You can then redeem those points for a huge selection of products – airfares and hotels regardless of “blackout periods,”gift cards, retail stores, restaurants, rental cars – and much more. Some clients I know cash the rewards in for themselves and that’s fine. But I agree with those that convert these rewards into products, certificates and gift cards and then give them to their employees.
Join a club…and reward your people. Amazing Clubs is an online service made up of dozens of “clubs.” There are clubs for wine, desserts, jam, flowers… even dog treats! What I love about this service is that you can choose from a number of great products and award them as gifts to your employees. But not just a one-time gift – a membership. For doing a great job or just being a great employee you can send that person a yummy cake, a six pack of craft beer, an assortment of chocolates for the next three, six, or twelve months. Every time it’s a reminder of a job well done but more importantly, a recurring reminder of how much you value that employee’s effort. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Bonusly is a "crowdsourced" way to motivate your employees – except that the crowd is everyone else inside your company. How it works: you setup a small allowance for your employees and each employee must give that allowance away to their workmates in recognition of good work throughout the month. As an employee's "microbonuses" add up, he can then exchange those virtual dollars for a reward that you create in your company's catalog, like a gift card, a charitable donation, or anything else you'd like to add like extra time off or a company coffee mug. Bonusly then fulfills the reward automatically, along with a system of metrics and reporting for you. The premium plan, at just $5 per employee per month, offers web and mobile apps, integration with your social media accounts, advanced analytics, and integrations with other systems.
Like these services? I bet you do. And if you do, so will your employees. Keeping them happy and productive is critical, so consider one or two this year.
About the Author
Gene Marks is a business owner, small business expert, author, speaker, CPA, and columnist for The Washington Post.