Payoffs of perks far outweigh costs
Smaller firms that can’t compete on salary need to make work ‘fun and inspiring’ to retain top talent
What is the cost of losing a good employee? Entrepreneurs know it can be high. At Frima Studio, a fast-growing video game maker based in Quebec City, the challenge of attracting and keeping talent got harder five years ago, when a pair of deep-pocketed multinational competitors opened offices nearby.
“We couldn’t compete on salary, so we decided to create an attractive workplace – one that was fun and inspiring,” says Nathalie McLaughlin, Frima’s human resources director.
Twice a year, Frima emulates the Dragons’ Den TV show and invites its employees to pitch innovative projects to a panel of judges.
“If we judge a project to be solid enough and to have sufficient marketing potential, we will release its creators from a few of their usual tasks so that they can devote one day a week to the development of their amazing idea. A few months later, we review the state of the project and decide if it’s worth pursuing, in which case we greenlight its production and marketing. This program is already starting to yield impressive results,” explains Ms. McLaughlin.
The array of benefits designed to make Frima’s employees’ lives easier includes flexible work hours, as well as a week of paid vacation time between the 25th of December and the New Year. The company offers employees gaming areas and an on-site gym. Twice a month, two massage therapists and a hair stylist also drop by.
Frima isn’t alone in turning to creative ways to provide employees with nonmonetary rewards.
“Companies in all industries – not just high-tech – increasingly see non-financial compensation as vital to their growth,” says Nathalie Gélinas, senior vice-president, consulting, at the Business Development Bank of Canada.
In today’s challenging economy, it’s harder than ever for many entrepreneurs to find the resources to draw in and retain skilled employees, she adds. At the same time, boomers are quitting the labour market, leading to labour shortages in many fields. This means businesses are increasingly competing for good workers, but they have less money to do it with.
The good news: non-financial benefits can be inexpensive and can even boost a company’s productivity, Ms. Gélinas says.
“The cost is a lot smaller than what the employer gets back. Losing an employee is very costly. Human capital is the most important resource a business has,” she says. “The ultimate challenge is to