Working for a small business may not give you wealth and prestige, but it could give you perks not commonly offered at large corporations.
Small business owners know they can’t compete on salary and job growth which is why they are more willing to offer incentives that make it worthwhile to work for them.
“They realize they can’t give big company benefits,” says Kathleen Downs, a recruiting manager at Robert Half International. “But they do want to repay their people.”
So what kind of perks may be in store for you if you take a job at a small business? Experts say its runs the gambit from flexible work schedules to discounts on products and services.
“Small businesses are almost universally flexible when it comes to offering flex time,” says Kevan Chapman, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business. According to Chapman, based on a survey of more than 7,500 small business members, 96% say they not only allow employees to work flexible schedules they don’t typically have a policy on the books, choosing rather to deal with requests on a case by case.
“Small business owners are very accommodating to employees’ personal situations,” says Chapman.
Work/life balance is another area where small businesses are willing to accommodate. While it can be hard for a large corporation to offer work/life balance perks on the fly, a small business with a few employees can easily do that. For instance, one national homebuilder had a kid’s room at the corporate office where employees can bring their children in the event of an emergency or a hurricane/snow day off from school, says Downs. The room had couches, a big screen TV and a PlayStation. Another small business let employees on their birthday choose the restaurant the whole staff would have lunch at on the company’s dime, she says.
In addition to being flexible when life’s issues arise, small businesses are more than willing to offer discounts on the products and services they sell. According to the National Federation of Independent Business’ survey, 54% of poll respondents say they give discounted or free goods or services to their employees.
That means that if you work for a small roofing company chances are you’ll get a discount if you need your roof repaired or replaced. If you are employed by a make-up company, expect to get a deal on your next lipstick purchase. Downs says one client which builds resorts would offer employees the curtains, appliances and furniture it used in the hotel at cost.
Other perks small businesses have been known to offer include covering employees commuting costs, providing access to company cars and even offering gym memberships. Small businesses also provide paid sick leave, vacation time, 401(K) and medical and life insurance benefits.
“Small businesses may not have money to pay high wages, but they want to do things that will be appreciated and are welcomed,” says Downs.
While small businesses can’t compete on salary, they also aren’t stingy when it comes to giving employees bonuses. According to the National Federation of Independent Business’ survey, 52% say they pay employees periodic bonuses or profit-sharing based on the performance of the business.
According to Downs, small businesses often times are willing to give their employees professional development perks, whether it’s giving them a mentor in the company, paying for training and even picking up the tab for continuing education. Indeed, according to the NFIB survey, 39% offer reimbursement for job-related education.
If you work for a small company close to where you live, a perk that may matter to you is how they give back to the community. Small businesses often times do their share to help out where they work, since it’s usually the local community that keeps them in business.
“Small-business owners are invested in their community,” says Chapman. “Nearly three-quarters of small businesses participated in volunteer activities. Groups of employees in 39% of small businesses volunteer in the community on behalf of their employer.”