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- The best small business employee benefits are the ones that (genuinely) impact your team’s lives for the better.
- Therapy, enhanced parental leave, corporate volunteering, and work from anywhere policies days are some of the best employee benefits for small businesses.
- But, the best employee benefit small businesses can offer is a benefit related to what your company does.
- To choose the best employee benefits package for your team, be sure to survey your team to find out what will actually benefit them: we’ve included a free employee benefits questionnaire in this article to help you get started.
Search for ‘employee benefits for small businesses’ online and you’ll be hit with endless results all saying the same thing: offer flexible working, give unlimited holiday a try, increase your employee pension contribution, yada, yada, yada. Now, this is all valuable advice but it doesn’t really tell you anything particularly groundbreaking: they’re pretty obvious small business employee benefits.
Instead, we’ve taken a different approach and perused company career pages to find out what employee benefits small businesses are offering that are a little bit different and have a genuine impact on employee life.
And what an exercise it was! Based on our findings, here’s our pick of the top five employee benefits for small business to support and reward your team throughout 2024:
- A benefit related to your company’s work
- Therapy to support mental health
- Enhanced and inclusive parental leave
- A ‘work from anywhere’ policy (for a set time)
- Paid corporate volunteering days
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail 👇
5 top employee benefits for small businesses
1. A benefit related to what your company does (a.k.a the perk of the job) 😃
❓ What it is: An employee benefit that gives employees access to the mission or product your company is working on.
👀 Who does it well:
- Dog food maker Butternut Box offers dog-friendly offices and a generous discount on their dog food
- Togather, an events platform, offers event tickets
- Grain Culture, a local bakery in Ely, offers free bread, pastries, and a staff discount on anything else
- Cambridgeshire County Council provides staff with bikes for work journeys and pay per mile if employees travel for work by bike
- Frozen meal company COOK has a holiday cabin in Kent that employees and their families can use for free
- Employees here at Spill can use the platform just as our customers do for mental health support
💡 Why it’s an important employee benefit for small businesses: Your employees have chosen to work for your company because they believe in your mission and product, so let them experience it for themselves! It’s a real perk of the job, brings your company values into your employee benefits package, and is an employee benefit small businesses can offer just as well as large companies. Plus, it’s a great way to get low-key feedback on the product.
2. Therapy to support mental health (a.k.a the employee wellbeing benefit) 🧠
❓ What it is: A lot of companies support mental health with the likes of an employee assistance programme (EAP) or employee health insurance. But we think the best employee benefit small businesses can offer for mental health is simply high-quality therapy (and we’re not just saying that because it’s what we do).
👀 Who does it well: A lot of companies now offer mental health support but it’s the ones offering therapy to their teams that are properly supporting employee mental wellbeing. Spill has given 30,000 employees over 67,000 therapy sessions (and counting) in companies such as Acast, Juro, and allplants.
Pento employees say Spill is their most-valued benefit, rating the service 9.3/10.
💡 Why it’s an important employee benefit for small businesses: One in six of your employees will experience mental health problems at work this year, making mental health support an essential small business employee benefit. In fact, it’s so essential that 81% of employees will actively look for workplaces that support mental health in their next job search. And while all the bells and whistles included with EAPs, health insurance, or indeed other mental support providers sound like you’re getting more bang for your buck, it’s not the self-help resources or AI coaching that makes a difference: it’s having space to talk to a real, professionally-trained, clinically-experienced human.
Unlike companies offering what’s billed as ‘expansive mental health support’, we have the time and resources at Spill to focus solely on offering really high quality therapy. We do this because we want employees who aren’t feeling 100% to get a really, really good experience. And if we offered financial and legal advice, ran wellbeing seminars, offered engagement surveys, or expanded in mindfulness sessions, we truly believe our mental health support — the therapy — wouldn’t be as good.
This isn’t a matter of style over substance either. We really do spend our time improving the quality of therapy of Spill. In the last four months alone we’ve (and truly, this is only a snapshot of the improvements we’ve made):
- Enabled a new 25-minute appointment type for people with neurodiversity who may find it difficult to focus for a full 50-minute session
- Launched a pay-as-you-go plan so companies only pay for the sessions that are used in the past month
- Added filters that allow someone booking a session to choose which gender they’d like their therapist to be and the specialism they’d like their specialist to have
We’re also responsible for hiring our own counsellors, as well as managing their supervision, training, and performance. We don’t connect your teams with just anyone: we connect them with people we’ve personally vetted as the very best.
3. Enhanced and inclusive parental leave (a.k.a the family-friendly benefit) 🏡
❓What it is: Enhanced and inclusive parental leave means giving primary and secondary caregivers, regardless of gender, parental leave that goes above and beyond the statutory minimum. And during our research, we spotted an interesting trend: small business employee benefits are getting increasingly family friendly.
👀 Who does it well:
- Payroll software provider Pento offers gender-neutral parental leave that grows with the employees’ tenure at the company (up to a maximum of 20 weeks leave)
- Homecare delivery platform birdie offer primary caregivers 26 weeks of parental leave at 100% of their salary
- Wise, an international bank account, offers UK employees 26 weeks maternity leave at full pay and 18 weeks paternity leave, also at full pay
- birdie also offers paid time off for fertility leave while Wise supports anyone affected by pregnancy loss (including partners and surrogate mothers) with 10 days paid leave.
💡 Why it’s an important employee benefit for small businesses: Your team’s lives develop outside of the office and the longer they’re with you, the more likely it is they’ll reach milestones in their personal life on your watch. Starting a family is a big financial commitment and it’s not uncommon for employees to engineer job changes to coincide with the planned arrival of a little one to get the best deal they can. By offering enhanced parental leave and other family-friendly policies, you're showing a commitment to prospective parents — and generate employee loyalty in return.
4. A ‘work from anywhere’ policy (a.k.a the employee lifestyle benefit) 🌎
❓ What it is: A policy that lets your team members work from anywhere in the world (or within certain time zones) at some point in the year. And yes, we’re very aware that this is a small business employee benefit that is only really possible for laptop-based roles.
👀 Who does it well:
- Skyscanner, the flight comparison site, let their employees jet off to work for 4 weeks each year (longer if employees go to another Skyscanner office)
- Wonderbly, the personalised book store, offers 5 weeks’ remote work each year
- Charlie HR let their team work from any timezone for 90 days each year
💡 Why it’s an important employee benefit for small businesses: Employee interaction is important but so is giving your employees the chance to take a longer break, have new experiences, and feel a bit more in control of their lives (a week skiing in France is just not the same as 6 weeks living and working in the French Alps). Plus, it’s a small business employee that doesn’t really come at a cost to you.
5. Paid corporate volunteering days (a.k.a the social impact benefit)
❓ What it is: A set number of paid days off each year to let your employees volunteer at either a cause close to their hearts or a company-wide initiative.
👀 Who does it well:
- Natural body care creator Wild offers two employee volunteering days per employee each year
- COOK offers a very generous five days for volunteering activities per employee each year
- Tech travel company Duffel offer a single paid day’s volunteering per year for a charity or charitable event
💡 Why it’s an important employee benefit for small businesses: It’s estimated that employees volunteering for one hour a week could generate £17 billion for UK charities. What’s more, UK workers actually want to engage with volunteering activities: 45% want to use their professional skills for volunteering purposes, 60% feel that employers should be helping their teams explore volunteering opportunities, and it’s thought that as many as 70% of millennial and Gen Z workers regularly volunteer already. As a small business employee benefit, this is another low-cost benefit (to you) that has a big impact on your team: Matchable, a corporate volunteering provider, even goes so far as to suggest that employee volunteering reduces staff turnover by 57%.
Download our employee benefits questionnaire
5 extra small business employee benefits
So, those are our top five picks of the best employee benefits for small businesses this year, but they’re by no means the only choices. While we were looking at various careers pages, we came across a few more initiatives that we thought were really good ideas and worth considering as part of a standout employee benefits package:
- Continue demonstrating your inclusivity by allowing employees to swap country-specific bank holidays for other days off
- Create a culture of learning by offering paid study days so employees can actually that course they’ve been enrolled on for a year
- Introduce progressive policies like Spill’s right to disconnect, or Bippit’s transitioning at work and fertility leave and pay policies
- Reward loyalty by offering a paid sabbatical for employees who have worked at the company for a certain amount of time — we’ve seen companies offering anything between two weeks and three months
- Help remote employees feel connected to the world (and perhaps other local employees) by offering to expense a co-work desk
There are plenty of valuable employee benefits for small businesses beyond the ‘traditional’ ones (and by traditional, we mean obvious). As a smaller company that might not have as much cash to throw around, carefully considering your offerings can make all the difference to who you employ, the culture you build, and the talent you retain.
Therapy with Spill reliably reduces mental health symptoms in 72% of cases and can be accessed by anyone on your team.
How to choose the best small business benefits for employees
Small business employee benefits are an extension of your company’s values and culture, so think carefully about what’s important to your company and what benefits reflect your values (Spill offering Spill is a great example of this).
With that in mind, here’s our recommendation of how to choose the best small business employee benefits for your team:
- Run an employee wellbeing survey to see how your team is doing. Look out for trends that might suggest areas requiring support: stressed employees might benefit from mental health support, tired employees might appreciate a bit more flexibility in their working pattern.
- Ask! Set up a questionnaire and ask your team how they feel about your current employee benefits package. Maybe they could rate your existing benefits from 1-10 (or your own scale), and be sure to leave space for their own comments and suggestions. You can download our small business employee benefit questionnaire below.
- Be open and realistic about what you can afford. Meaningful benefits don’t have to cost the earth so be careful to set your budget and your team’s expectations about the changes you’re able to make.
- Communicate, regularly. Listen (really listen) to your team, visibly take on board any feedback you get, and be sure to send round regular updates of how the process is developing. You may find it useful to hold an open forum for questions and discussion.
- Stick to your decision. In a small company, it’s not unusual to have a deeper knowledge of your team’s personal situations. And if Andy from accounts is struggling with his commute, you might be tempted to make an exception. What we’re saying here is that if you’ve carried out a survey, evaluated the results, and put together an employee benefits package that supports as many people as possible, you’ve done the right thing. It’s impossible to please everyone and if you start changing your mind because of differing personal circumstances, your team may feel misled, not listened to, and generally a bit disgruntled.
The best small business employee benefits are the ones that are right for your team
Ultimately, the best employee benefits are the ones that will actually help your team. Everyone has lives and priorities outside of work, so be sure to ask for feedback and listen to what your workers have to say. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box: if this article should tell you anything, it's that there's a lot more to employee benefits than unlimited holiday.
Download our employee benefits questionnaire
See how much it would cost to benefit your team’s wellbeing by giving them easy access to next-day therapy sessions.