5 low cost & effective perks to keep employees happy

“Plus loads of great perks!” This is the one phrase written on almost every job spec, for every startup, ever.

Perks are commonly associated with startups and are often a talking point when we are preparing to kick off an onsite hiring project with a new client, taking a job brief for an ad-hoc hiring requirement or discussing roles at a startup with a candidate.

More often than not, when speaking with candidates I hear them say “I wear many hats in my role”. In a startup, a role can really venture outside the initial job description and demand much more from someone than if they were to join a larger, more established company. Employees understand that they’ll be expected to put in additional hours, work on multiple projects and learn new skills, often at a lower salary than they could achieve elsewhere. That’s all part of the joy of working for a startup and employees know what they’re signing up for. However, if employers recognise and reward their employees’ efforts from time to time it can really help make them feel valued and ultimately lead to a more productive and engaged team.

Offering perks not only attracts employees but keeps them in your business, helping with that all-important hiring metric – employee retention.

The perks can be as big or small as you like. Keep in mind that the idea of a “great perk” can be different to each individual and you can’t please everyone all at once!

Here are some of the perks the startups we work with use, all of which are highly valued by employees, but are not too costly either

Specific career progression

No employee wants to feel stagnant in their role. While their career map may not be as concrete at your startup as it would with a large company, there should be clarity between the employee and manager on what the employee is looking to achieve from working at the company and how the company can help the employee gain the skills and experience required to meet their goal.

Flexible working

For many roles what matters is the work the employee does, rather than how, when or where they do it. Naturally, it can’t work for every type of position, but giving employees the flexibility to choose if they want to start and finish early, or start and finish late, to fit in with their lives outside of work will empower them and likely make them more productive.

Extra holiday

Work-life balance is vital and the best startups ensure they ensure their employees can enjoy their life outside of work to the maximum so they’re happier and more productive at work. Some startups offer unlimited holiday, others offer standard holiday (for vacations etc) but don’t count the odd days off employees need every now and then. This doesn’t mean allowing your employees to travel the world while being paid and never doing any work, this means giving employees the autonomy to decide when they need to take a day to recharge so they can return a more effective member of the team.

Team lunch

Teams that eat together are happier and more productive. Providing lunch to your employees at least once per week is a low-cost way of establishing a personal connection with and between your employees. It’s not about the food you eat or where you eat it but who you eat it with. Putting away laptops for 30-minutes, everyone sitting together around a table and talking about non-work related matters while eating together will build stronger team bonds than any team building exercise of company offsite. For smaller teams, a quick run to Pret will do. For larger teams, City Pantry takes care of everything.

Team events

An extension of eating together as a team, if you really want to build bonds between employees, get out of the office and do something. Company events can be work related or non-work related – or both. You could get all of your employees together in a room to brainstorm a big problem together to get new insights and foster collaboration, followed by an activity such as bowling or mini golf for some fun. The possibilities are endless but they should always be inclusive, collaborative and don’t need to cost much to work.

Competition for top talent is fierce amongst startups. Great perks won’t make or break your startup and are by no means a shortcut to building a great company culture but they can really make you stand out when hiring. Applying some of the above can help employees feel valued and even inspire them to go above and beyond.


At Hired By Startups, we help startups, scale-ups and VC backed companies hire really talented people and build teams that are more engaged and productive. Our dedicated onsite hiring service enables startups to see the benefits of having their own internal recruiter, with the flexibility of using an agency.

We’ve helped some of the UK’s best known and fastest growing startups scale their teams whilst saving 50% on their cost and time per hire. If you’re a startup looking to scale rapidly, get in touch to find out how we could help! For more info, check out us out here.


About the author 

Tom Ladds

Hi, I’m Tom – Founder & CEO at Hired By Startups. You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Startup Recruiting