A colleague lost a team member who chose to go to another company for more money and that team member immediately regretted it. So, I started thinking that there are so many areas that can be identified as a "non-paid benefit" and expressed to employees who may be asking for an annual raise.
• Telecommuting. Now I know that not all positions will qualify for this benefit. But consider allowing a few staff members to work from home one or more days per week. The quality of work that comes from not having a lot of distractions is much higher and the attitude of the employee is improved. Not all employees can be trusted with such a benefit, so be conscientious about who you receives this sort of thing.
• Four-day work weeks. You most likely have people who show up early and leave late. Instead of paying overtime, how about offering a four-day work week? Getting a three day "weekend" is a wonderful benefit and employees will love having that extra day to get all of their personal business done. They can also make their appointments on that day, insuring that they are not gone during working hours.
• Flexible hours. Have an employee whose child has started school? They want to be the person who drops off and picks up their child. Why not allow them to work 30 hours per week instead of 40 hours. This will keep their skill set in-house, and you don't have to replace them. Hiring people is expensive, and if you have a solid employee with a specialized skill set, it's worth investigating if they can spare them the ten hours per week to keep them in your company.
• Cross train. Cross training employees may not sound like a benefit, but I can assure you that if an employee starts to feel job burnout, the ability to swap tasks with another employee is a great benefit to you. They won't be job hunting elsewhere and you still get the work completed. It gives them greater value and autonomy knowing you trust them to complete all of the required tasks needed to operate the business.
• Give them unlimited time off. I know this seems a little crazy, but we have an employee that likes to travel. She is not awarded more vacation time, but unpaid time off when she and her husband want to go on a trip. Even if it's a quick three-day weekend. Knowing that they have the option to take unpaid time can mean a lot to employee job satisfaction.
• Buy lunch. Once a month, buy your employees lunch. Can't all go out at the same time? There is a company called Door Dash that brings several different participating restaurants food right to your door. Just having people who work together break bread together can be a nice benefit in keeping peace among everyone. Oftentimes when departments are separated or you have multiple locations, a face-to-face meal can make a huge difference.
• The company they keep. Working with people you like is a huge bonus for your staff. When my aforementioned colleague lost one of her employees, the employee was so distraught when she realized that working with people she liked and respected meant more to her than another few dollars per hour. She immediately regretted leaving the department, as her new colleagues were not so nice and welcoming.
These are just a few examples of providing benefits to employees that don't really cost you out-of-pocket costs. Creating a fun and respectable working environment can really be a game changer in the world of business.