Staying competitive in the market largely relies upon attracting and retaining quality employees. One method that isn't related to wages or pay rates is offering discount programs or workplace incentives. Though restaurants, retail stores and manufacturers will offer their employees some kind of discount on the product or services offered, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to creating these incentive programs.

Company-Based Discount Programs
The variety of discount programs has certainly grown over the years to move away from providing a typical percentage discount on the company's offerings. One company that offers a comprehensive discount program to its employees is Universal Studios Orlando Resort. The company provides its staff with discounts on almost everything that's found within the resort including hotel rooms, meals, merchandise, admission to theme parks and movie tickets. This program goes one step deeper in that it offers employee recognition programs, peer recognition awards and even a carpooling program. Employees will enjoy discounts that extend beyond the Universal family since the program also offers discounts at various local-area merchants. Southwest Airlines offers another exciting company-based discount program. The company offers flight discounts that are so good, they're actually free. Working for Southwest equates to free flights for you, your family and even a few flights a year for your friends. Staff also enjoy discounts at partner hotels, car rental companies and even with associated airlines.

Cooperative Discount Programs
Some small- and medium-sized enterprises have partnered with other organizations to bring a wider variety of available discounts to their employees. Consider if you worked for a HVAC company that would provide its staff with a 25% discount on new furnace or air conditioning units. Seeing as these are products that don't require frequent purchase, it may not add up to a very appealing perk. However, knowing that the company is partnered with an electronics store, shoe store and a travel agency might make an employee discount program stand out to potential employees who are in the recruitment stage. Every company in the program benefits, and so do the employees. There are even third-party organizations that specialize in bringing companies together in these cooperative discount programs.

Concierge Services
As many people already know, time is money. A number of employers have made a move toward assisting their employees with coordinating everyday tasks like dry cleaning and car detailing. Among the companies offering these sorts of programs are Clif Bar, Universal Orlando Resort and Google. Though the services aren't typically free, there is generally some kind of discount provided to the employee, which helps to make them an attractive perk. Another perk offered by Universal Orlando Resort is on-site banking at a branch of Fairwinds Credit Union.

Spa Services
There's no doubt that many companies rely on the image of their employees to maintain the image of the company. Companies have embraced this idea by allowing their employees to have access to spa services. Staff can get discounts on haircuts, massages, eyebrow shaping and even acupressure sessions through site-based spa services. Companies that are offering these kinds of incentives include Google and Clif Bar, though many companies have also made it possible for employees to access these services through mobile spas that visit the office. A perk for employers is that their employees are more relaxed and free of stress, which has been identified as one of the leading causes of burnout and employee absenteeism in the workplace. Additionally, employees aren't having to leave work to access these services, which helps to reduce the amount of time that employees are away from the office for personal appointments.

The Bottom Line
The world of employee discount programs has certainly evolved over the years, moving from simple discounts to a wide range of incentives and discounts that extend far beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of the organization. In tougher financial times when salary raises may not be feasible, finding methods to attract and retain valued employees becomes of the utmost importance. Everyone wins when employees are more dedicated and eager to come to work. Believe it or not, employers love it when employees don't have to leave the workplace to take care of personal business.

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