What non-monetary bonuses can I offer my staff? – StartupSmart

This article first appeared on December 21st, 2011.


I remember when I first started my business 20 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of cash to splash and I desperately wanted to reward my one and only employee.


I decided the best thing to do was to sit down and ask her what she would really value at this point of time in her life.


Her answer was a tumble dryer, so I went out and bought one.


Did she value it? I believe so. She was with me for nine years.


Apparently big bonuses are back and that’s okay if you’re one of the bigger players.


If you are a start-up, however, it can be difficult to find those extra dollars to implement a monetary bonus scheme.


So the first things you need to decide on are what your business can afford and whether your bonuses will be of a monetary or non-monetary value.


Then before you race off and start structuring the scheme, take the time to have a chat with each staff member to gain an understanding of his or her current needs.


Don’t presume just because you work with them on a daily basis that you know exactly what they would currently value.


If you decide on a non-monetary bonus, it’s a good idea prior to having the chat to make a list of some of your affordable options.


Be creative and think about what you know about their lives outside work. Are they a working parent who would love more flexible hours or time off during the school holidays?


Are they trying to save for a deposit for a house and would value a small monetary bonus or are they mad sports fan and would really value a club membership or tickets to a game?


Consider whether the bonus scheme will be based on company performance or individual performance.


You need to be a bit careful if it is based on individual performance because if the company does not have a good year you will still have to find the money to pay the agreed individual bonus.


Traditionally, bonus schemes have been linked to performance or productivity.


Some positions, although valuable to the business, can be difficult to measure, as they do not directly contribute to the financial success of the business. These include receptionists, administration, accounts and personal assistants.


For these positions you will need to think about the things that the staff member actually influences and base their performance objectives on these areas.


For example, a receptionist may be measured by the consistency of feedback received from your customers or clients with how helpful they were.


To help you get that list going, let’s have a look at some of the non-monetary bonuses that the big players are offering:

  • Google: Yoga classes, on site car washes, a rock climbing wall, dry cleaning service, gym and fitness classes, haircuts, bike repairs and subsidised massages.
  • Facebook: Photo processing, weekly lectures by entrepreneurs, Pilates classes, leather repair and 50% reimbursement on gym fees.

Some companies that I work with offer subsidised (70%) on-site massages, contributions to health funds, childcare, education/training, fortnightly car washes, free lunch and magazine subscriptions.


So, either put an affordable dollar value on a monetary bonus or find out what would make a difference to their lives, regardless you’ll find it goes along way to motivating and boosting morale.

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