What do you do when you’re a Silicon Valley startup and you’re trying to cut back on perks? Build a five-foot-tall chrome panda statue – valued at an estimated $100,000 – in your San Francisco headquarters apparently, according to Dropbox.
When the sculpture of the chinese bear appeared, it was accompanied by a note essentially telling employees they were cutting back on expenses and keeping the statute as a reminder of the importance of frugality.
A clear sign of the changing tides in Silicon Valley, Dropbox are not the only ones cutting back on perks. Part of this is due to a weaker VC funding environment.
Even though Silicon Valley’s elite still offer outrageous perks ranging from free haircuts to on-site oil changes, newer startups shouldn’t have to compete. Xero’s President of the Americas, Russ Fujioka, recently penned an article for Inc. where he offered a few tips on how new startups can offer attractive perks without breaking the bank.
Instill a great company culture
Having a great company culture means employees are excited to turn up to work everyday. Make your company culture known from the very start of the hiring processes. That way you will attract the kind of employees that will fit in and who are like-minded.
Fujioka said employers should want their employees to feel supported and valued so they stick around. He described how the architecture of the offices at Xero encourage this kind of morale by fostering collaboration.
“At Xero, we have established a collaborative working environment, not just in the physical sense but in the mental sense,” Fujioka said. “Our open-plan offices feature breakout rooms, couches and outdoor areas. We have a core set of company values that are literally written on the walls.”
Fujioka said offering employees a flexible working schedule as well as the autonomy to complete work in a setting that is convenient to them widens the talent pool during the hiring process and improves general office morale. He also mentioned moving to a new method of performance assessment may be the answer to a more efficient workforce.
“If an employee’s work is project-based, their productivity is likely to soar,” Fujioka said. “They are focused on getting the job done rather than watching the clock tick.”
Ditch the corporate dress code
Bidding adieu to the suit and tie should see the productivity of your employees soar. Rather than having your employees feel as if they are a child wearing a uniform, Fujioka says allowing them to dress the way they want will have them feeling confident and relaxed.
“While coming to work in jeans and sneakers may not be for everyone, having the option there makes employees feel valued,” Fujioka said.
When thinking about employee perks, address the needs and the wants of your workforce. Fujioka says startups “will generally find that employees value healthcare and PTO more highly over free perks”. Complement this benefits package with some creative, cost-effective perks and new startups will have the tools they need to hire and retain the right talent.
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