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More Than a Deal: How Employee Discount Programs Benefit SMBs

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Quick look: Everyone loves getting a good bang for their buck, and employee discount programs can help small businesses recruit competitively, retain talent, and promote mental, physical, and financial well-being. However, with other mission-critical tasks to complete, implementing these perks can fall to business leaders’ wayside—and that’s where a professional employer organization (PEO) can assist.

A monthly discount on a cell phone bill. An unbeatable rate for an upcoming cruise. Steep savings on tickets to see a favorite band. These things, available through employee discount programs, help workers save money and enjoy themselves—and they provide business-enhancing benefits, too.

Employee discount programs offer staff exclusive pricing on specific brands, products, and services. The discounts vary, as employers can partner with vendors that provide deals on everything from pet supplies to theme park tickets. Discounts on these goods can range from below-market prices to reduced membership fees for subscription services.

Common employee discount categories include:

  • Retail (apparel, appliances, electronics, gifts and jewelry, health and beauty, pet supplies, etc.)
  • Mental and physical wellness (exercise equipment, virtual therapy, fitness trackers, contacts and glasses, etc.)
  • Travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises)
  • Entertainment (tickets to movies, theatres, concerts and live events, theme parks, etc.)
  • Financial (tax preparation, insurance, etc.)
  • Educational (audiobooks, childcare, online learning, etc.)
  • Automotive (insurance, new and used cars, supplies, etc.)

The advantages of offering a work discount program extend beyond helping staff save some cash; access to these deals is an integral part of an employer’s total rewards strategy and can help them increase employee satisfaction and retention.

The benefits of employee discount programs for small businesses

Employee discount programs demonstrate to potential and current talent that their organization prioritizes rewarding their hard work. This positive impression can prove advantageous for employers in multiple ways, including:

  • Increased employee retention: Recent Pew Research Center data shows that approximately half of workers who said they were “highly satisfied” with their jobs listed their benefits as a main reason for feeling that way.
  • More competitive recruiting: Presenting benefits that stack up with larger competitors is a common challenge for small businesses when attracting talent. Employee discount programs are often considered an enterprise-level benefit and can help swing the odds in your favor for a potential hire.
  • Boosted employee engagement: Happy workers are engaged, productive workers, and employee discount programs naturally pique staff’s interest as virtually everyone enjoys shopping, dining out, traveling, and making the most of their money.
  • Optimized spending: Corporate discount programs tend to be cost-effective, as they are substantially more affordable (or free) to provide than other benefits and have the potential for a high return on investment (ROI).
  • Promotion of work-life balance: Offering employees special pricing on travel, entertainment, and more encourages them to enjoy their personal lives and can help achieve a healthy work-life balance. This is increasingly important, as recent research shows that many workers across generations would quit their jobs if they prevented them from enjoying their lives.
  • Improve workers’ finances: Inflation continues to take a toll on Americans, and offering exclusive discounts to employees can help them stretch their hard-earned dollars.

5 best practices for establishing a corporate discount program

Discounts for employees are only successful if they are aware of and utilize them. Often, organizations roll out a program and it becomes forgotten, or its deals are irrelevant and unappealing to staff. The following tips will help you design a program that resonates with your employees and bolsters your bottom line.

1. Communicate (clearly and often)

According to MetLife, 62% of employees state that a better understanding of their benefits would give them greater overall stability, and 50% report it would make them more loyal. Additionally, 54% of workers said they wished they had personalized benefit recommendations, and half would feel more cared for if their company improved its benefits communication.

Business leaders should regularly and clearly communicate how to access the organization’s discount programs, various offer categories, and any new or special deals. These messages should meet employees where they work. For instance, desk staff may benefit the most from an email, while employees on their feet may resonate the most with an informational flyer with a QR code.

2. Enable easy access

Employee discount programs often include many categories of deals. To combat confusion, your program’s dashboard should be easily accessible online and feature simple navigation, including a seamless flow to any partner websites.

3. Personalize the perks

Ensuring you offer a variety of deals that match your staff’s interests is key. Aetna found that 65% of employees would value choosing their own benefits, yet only 36% felt they had a say in their benefits. Businesses should confirm that their discount programs appeal to multiple generations and include various categories, price points, and availability options (both online and in-person deals should be included, as well as a mix of national and local discounts).

4. Simple administration

Unfortunately, human resources (HR) leaders are dealing with increasing amounts of burnout, making it critical that a business’s discount program is easy to manage. Ideally, discount programs should include intuitive self-service functions and provide onboarding materials. Alternatively, organizations may access their discount programs through a PEO that administers and manages employee benefits on their behalf.

5. Measure success

Again, a discount program can only benefit your organization if your employees actually use it. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly track how many of your workers sign up for and make purchases through the program.

PEO: Your partner for employee perks

Small businesses have much to gain from offering employee discount programs. However, their leaders tend to have busy workloads and may need help finding the time to research, vet, and deploy discount offerings. This is where a PEO can really help.

In addition to providing small businesses with comprehensive HR, recruiting, payroll, and risk and compliance services, PEOs also offer a full range of enterprise-level employee benefits, including discount programs.

For example, ExtensisHR gives its clients complimentary access to multiple top-tier discount programs like BenefitHub, PlumBenefits, and Working Advantage, which include special pricing on various goods and services designed to appeal to a diverse workforce.

Additionally, the ExtensisHR Marketplace serves as a one-stop destination for additional a la carte vendors and plans that matter the most to your business, including:

  • Nectar HR: An employee recognition software enabling businesses to redeem rewards, promote core values, and increase employee engagement.
  • pumpspotting: A turnkey workplace lactation solution designed to reduce compliance risks, create inclusion, deliver positive employee experiences, and deepen loyalty.
  • Coa at Work: An online platform with live and on-demand proactive mental health and emotional fitness learning.
  • ClassPass: Memberships that give employees worldwide access to thousands of top-rated gyms, fitness studios, salons, and spas (available to businesses with 25 or more employees).
  • Fitbit Device Program: Helps organizations promote a healthier lifestyle by facilitating the bulk purchase of Fitbit devices and connecting staff with in-app workouts, programming, and wellness content.

Supplying workers with lower prices on the goods, services, and events that they want (and need) helps small businesses stand out in an increasingly competitive market. These perks can boost talent acquisition and retention by promoting work-life balance, demonstrating your organization’s gratitude for its personnel, and contributing to your employees’ financial well-being.

How can ExtensisHR help your small business make the most of corporate employee discounts? Explore our comprehensive benefits services or contact us to learn more

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