Many businesses are still struggling to find their way after the recent economic downturn. Some want to offer better perks to their employees since they cannot yet justify big bonuses and long-term salary bumps. It leaves small businesses thinking outside of the proverbial box to look for ways to show appreciation for their hardworking employees without breaking the bank in the process and turning to additional perks in the workplace is usually the answer. These are just a few great incentives businesses of any size can adopt and make their own.

Allow Employees to Bring Their Pets to Work

Obviously this isn’t a one-size-fits all philosophy and there must be ground rules. However, something as simple as setting aside one day a quarter, month, or week where employees can bring their pets to work goes a long way to improving employee morale.

“Employee perks like these may seem like a stretch, but casual, flexible and fun workplace policies are becoming commonplace as companies compete to recruit top talent, technology breaks down the barriers between personal and professional lives, and as more focus is placed on innovation and creativity,” notes one USA Today article.

Happy employees are more productive, and this is a small thing companies can offer that delivers big results on the happiness scale.

Feed Employee Hunger Pangs

Its worked well for Google. claims that the Mountain View, CA, headquarters for Google offers free food for lunch and dinner as part of their perk system.

Other sites recommend offering free snacks, soda, afternoon popcorn, coffee, or catered meals once a week. The key is to make a point of letting your staff know you appreciate the things they do for you by offering them something they can appreciate, too. Offering free lunches saves employees time and money — two things most believe they never have enough of.

On-site Childcare

Companies that offer on-site childcare are very likely to retain loyal employees, particularly female employees. Women who work often feel as though they are torn between their needs to provide for their families and their desires to be near their children in order to nurture and care for them. Having access to children during lunch breaks and at other times during the workday makes them feel much more comfortable with their decision to work, and with their decision to work for a specific company.

Unique incentives such as these increase employee morale, create loyalty among employees, and let employees know they are appreciated by the powers that be within the organization. In return, employees who feel appreciated work harder, are more loyal, and have lower instances of absenteeism than those who feel unappreciated in the workplace. It’s a win-win situation for everyone that doesn’t have to cost the company a lot of money to adopt.

Elizabeth Magill is a freelance writer who holds a Masters degree. She writes articles, blog posts, news stories, guides, and eBooks on a variety of topics, including medical, health, and business topics. As a freelance writer, she writes about practically anything from crib mattresses to her favorite topics in health and business.