We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 - 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!

In today’s competitive talent marketplace, it may seem impossible for a small tech startup to attract top notch engineers, especially with recent announcements like Netflix’s policy to allow unlimited maternity leave, but a little recruiting knowhow goes a long way.

In today’s job market perks are the norm, with things like free food actually becoming more a requirement than a perk. Other fairly common perks are unlimited vacation, work-from-home flexibility, and family medical benefits – but if you get creative and think outside the box, there are a number of other appealing benefits you can offer potential employees that just might be the icing on their cake.

I’ve worked with hundreds of companies in my career as a recruiter. Here are 10 creative perks that work:

  1. Help secure candidates children placements in top private schools – one company I worked with leveraged their investor network and was able to pull strings. Beyond even this as a specific example the overarching recommendation here is to leverage your network and who might be able to help you with unique incentives
  2. Uber drivers– this is particularly hot right now, especially as traffic and commuting becomes more burdensome than ever before. Offer employees alternative transportation benefits to help them save time and money
  3. 401K – it’s fair to say this one might not fall under the creative heading, but it’s so important it’s worth including. Offering employees a way to plan for their future – especially if you have a matching program – is a long term perk that carries a lot of weight
  4. Onsite child care – providing a close, affordable day care facility is a perk in more ways than one. Not only does it mean an employee doesn’t have to drive out of their way every day to drop a child off before coming to work it offers parents a chance to stop in and see their little one during breaks throughout the day. It also creates less stress at the end of the day when employees are frantically trying to leave to get there before “last call” at the daycare
  5. Offer unexpected, customized retention bonuses – for every milestone an employee reaches, reward them, whether with a financial sum, a generous period of time off or another reward that is appealing to that particular employee. You can even customize the bonus to be something that employee specifically wants. Not only will the employee feel valued that you want to give them something that really matters to them, if they help set the goal they may just work that much harder to get it
  6. Work with local businesses to get corporate discounts for employees – if you don’t (yet) have the fancy gym, expensive cappuccino machine or colorful room full of play balls to jump in, then consider gym memberships, significant discounts to coffee shops or local theme parks. Many businesses are very willing to offer corporate discounts to your employees if they use their services. In many cases all it takes is a phone call to get the ball (pun) rolling
  7. Generous maternity AND paternity leave programs – this is a pretty hot issue these days, but the short of it is supporting new parents – be it mom OR dad – while they bond with their babies goes a long way toward showing employees you value their families
  8. Entertainment – tickets to local sporting events, concerts, theater, etc. are great ways to give employees time to have fun
  9. Pay their mobile phone bill – in the grand scheme of things it’s a small expense to add to a benefits package, but it FEELS big to employees as it eliminates a personal expense. In addition, since they are likely to have work email on their phone it’s a great way to establish that you value that they are available even when they aren’t at their desk
  10. A loose schedule – This is more than just working from home, but really giving employees control over their schedule. It’s true most businesses operate under the “9-5” rule of thumb, but in many cases employees don’t actually need to be there during those hours. Sure, if you are hiring a receptionist, those hours become important, but if you offer employees the flexibility to set their own schedules you are giving them perhaps the most precious life perk of all – TIME.

At the end of the day, the perks won’t sell the job – the job has to be meaningful and inspiring to the candidate. But in today’s competitive job landscape, perks are all about creativity, and they certainly don’t have to break the bank.

Michael A. Morell is cofounder and managing partner at Riviera, an executive and technical search firm. Follow Michael at @rivimike.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Learn more about membership.