Coffee, yoga and free snacks: Which work perks actually encourage someone to join your team?

Small business owners are well-acquainted with the challenge of chasing star talent with limited resources, but when it comes to courting staff with non-financial perks, some work better than others.

That’s the finding from a review of the priorities of 2,000 US workers by data-focused marketing agency Fractl, with the company explaining in the Harvard Business Review this week that flexible hours and vacation time weigh heavily on the minds of staff when comparing a higher salaried position to a lower salary with additional benefits.

Eighty-eight percent of workers said they would take into account more flexible hours when considering a job position with a lower salary, while 80% said they would give at least some consideration to the role if they had the option of working from home.

The survey also revealed that little things could potentially sway a worker towards a lower-paying role: 32% said that free snacks at work could play a part in their decision, while 30% nominated free coffee.

Meanwhile, 26% indicated they would factor-in company-wide retreats when making a decision.

In a discussion of the results, Fractl notes that employing programs like unlimited or extended leave does not necessarily mean workers want to, or will, take more time off, although it does mean people find roles with those options more attractive. On the flip side, while decisions could be influenced by smaller perks like food or yoga classes, these were unlikely to be enough in themselves to sway a candidate.

Meanwhile, help for things like repaying student loans and paid maternity or paternity leave policies would play a role in helping between 40 and 50% of those surveyed decide to take up a position on a lower salary.

Experts have previously told SmartCompany that flexible workplace practices are key to maintaining loyal and focused staff. While they don’t have to be expensive, they should acknowledge that workers have other concerns beyond their roles, according to Andrew Douglas, head of workplace relations at law firm MacPherson Kelly.

“Lots of businesses run with no working capital, bare bones employees and small margins. They can never grow, they cannot invest in people. Your greatest capital risk is people,” he said earlier this month.

The benefits of employing a flexible mindset have implications beyond keeping good staff members.

“Every single time it’s done well, no matter what size, it’s rewarded by profits,” Douglas says.

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