You’ve invested time and money in finding, hiring, and training staff. With the labor market tightening in the greater Chicago area, now you need to make sure you keep them. New employee retention ideas that resonate with today’s workforce focus less on tangible “stuff” and more on the personal touch. The good news is that perks don’t have to be super expensive or complicated. Finding perks that go beyond gift cards and casual dress policies show your employees that you listen, that you care, and that you are committed to their whole person – not just the one who comes to work each day.

A competitive job market means that HR managers have to get creative with hiring and retention. According to a ManPowerGroup survey, 38 percent of all US employers experienced difficulty filling job openings in 2015. While the Chicago metropolitan area is not keeping pace with every US market, it has experienced a net gain of jobs for each of the past seven years. That means two things: you increasingly will compete with other employers when you hire, and your current employees are likely to be recruited. If you want a chance at the top talent – and if you want to keep your top performers – you need to find perks that help you stand out.

“While you may not be able to solve every challenge, you can demonstrate that you understand and appreciate your employees by creating policies and offering perks that reduce stress in their daily lives”

Daily catered meals or free onsite childcare might not be in your budget, but not every employee expects over-the-top perks. A FRACTL survey of 2,000 US workers found that the highest ranking benefits are health, vision, and dental insurance – but following those, the most frequently cited benefit requests are those that help with work-life balance.

In short, employees want you to recognize that they are more than just what you see at work – they are people with lives outside of the office that can be complicated, messy, and stressful. While you may not be able to solve every challenge, you can demonstrate that you understand and appreciate your employees by creating policies and offering perks that reduce stress in their daily lives. Focusing on what employees ask for the most gives you an opportunity to deepen your relationship.

If you are like most employers, you’ll find that work-life balance comes up again and again in employee performance reviews. A recent piece in Forbes offers advice from business leaders on the nine questions employers should ask when they meet with employees. Two of the most interesting questions are “what makes you happy?” and “what do you need to do your best work?”

Offering relevant and helpful responses to these questions doesn’t always have to cost your company a ton of money. Perks that are thoughtful and respectful of your employees’ needs demonstrate that you truly listen. As John Tabis, the CEO of online florist The Bouqs Company, says, “What I want employees to talk to me about is what makes them happy (or unhappy) in their job and life and how the company or I can help maximize that happiness. If they ask that, then they know I care.”

When pressed, most employees will report that work-life balance is a challenge, particularly those with young families or caring for aging parents. They are strapped for time, running from home to school to work to the grocery store without a breath. The pace is exhausting and it’s hard for employees to be their best at work when they know they have a crushing list facing them when they walk out the door. At Saving Grace, we find that the perks our customers’ employees value the most are the ones that give them the gift of time. We offer a host of personal concierge services, but we believe our newest offering will be one of our most popular: a holiday gift-wrapping service.

A personal service like gift-wrapping checks a lot of boxes:

  • Gift-wrapping can be tailored to fit most budgets. It generally costs less than a catered box lunch for your team.
  • Gift-wrapping is memorable. Employees might not remember that generic gift card you handed out, but they will definitely remember how it felt to drop off a bag in the morning and return in the afternoon to pick up a gorgeously presented gift or two. The compliments from the gift recipient are an added bonus!
  • Gift-wrapping is easy. You provide a work area, and that’s it: the team comes to your site with all supplies, and cleans up afterward.
  • Gift-wrapping is an “occasional perk” – something you can slip in on a yearly basis without having to commit weekly or monthly funds.
  • Gift-wrapping shows that you value your employees’ time, and want to help them erase at least one thing from their home to-do list.

According to Glassdoor’s 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, more than half of respondents say that benefits and perks are a big factor in considering a job offer. And even more said they would choose extra benefits over a pay raise. As you develop your list of employee retention ideas, think about how you can make yours personal and memorable. Can we help? We’d love to brainstorm ideas with you! Contact us today, or learn more about our new holiday gift-wrapping service. We’d be delighted to help you give the gift of time to your valued employees.

Learn More About Our Holiday Gift Wrapping Service