HR professionals speaking at a recent panel in Wilmington, North Carolina, say businesses can write personal thank you notes to their workers and provide them with flexible hours. They also can collaborate with other businesses to swap employee discounts and provide employee-funded benefits, such as savings schemes for their children's college education or elder care for their parents.
"They really don't cost you anything, but are perks you can put in your lineup of benefits," says Lisa Leath, president of the Leath HR group. At a previous employer, Leath says one popular perk involved arranging for Santa Claus to meet employees' children for one day during the Christmas season.
"It's about understanding what employees want and giving them what they want," Leath says.