5 Perks for Penny-Pinching Southeast Asian Start-ups

Keep your employees happy without breaking the bank

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 09 Mar 2017

southeast asian startup

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Working in a start-up has its own rewards. Many forego the stability of a 9-to-5 job in exchange for more autonomy, flexibility, and a fast-paced learning environment. The perks aren’t bad either.

“Company outings, team lunches, flexible hours, and other opportunities to combine work and play are all start-up perks that really improve morale, productivity, and retention,” Justin Hall, principal at Golden Gate Ventures, says in one Inc. Southeast Asia story.

Perks improve the cohesiveness and culture within the company, Hall says, and thus are an important team-building tool.

Says John Thornton, Thailand’s country manager for IT recruitment firm TribeHired, “Regardless of the size of your company or how much money you are making, you should always listen to what your employees really need.”

He adds that he is “all in for giving tangible benefits,” though at the moment the company has little in their budget to afford fancy perks.

For Southeast Asian start-ups on a budget, here are five perks they can provide their teams with minimal to no cost:


1. Time off and flexible working hours

Thornton suggests that if employees have hit targets, they should be able to take a day off or at least half a day off. This will serve as motivation for them to be productive and efficient because they know they will be rewarded for using their time at the office well.

“I also don’t employ a strict holiday leave policy—my staff gets a generous number of annual leave, which they have full autonomy over,” he says.


2. Remote work days

Being together in one physical location has benefits for the team, such as faster communication, collaboration, and some bonding time, which will ultimately enhance company culture. However, allowing employees to work from home on a Friday, where traffic in some Southeast Asian cities can be a nightmare, is one perk they will appreciate.

“For business owners, this drastically reduces expenses because you can cut down on the amount of electricity, office supplies, and heating/cooling you use,” says entrepreneur and investor John Rampton in his Inc. article.


3. Free-flowing coffee and snacks

This will not cost much, but providing unlimited coffee and snacks will help perk up your employees in the middle of a hectic workday. Plus they will not feel the need to constantly step out of the office to get their caffeine fix.

“It’s a simple method to keep employees happy and productive since this prevents hunger from distracting them—the right snacks can also boost everyone’s memory and brain power,” says Rampton.

Founders can also treat the team to breakfast or snacks maybe twice or thrice a month. “Leaders will have to dip into their own pockets once in a while or as many times as you can afford,” Thornton adds.


4. A relaxed work environment

Rampton says one of the least expensive perks you can offer is a relaxed work environment—i.e. casual dress code and quiet places for employees to rest and recharge.

Thornton also suggests that if the office has a balcony or a patio to turn it into an after-work social space.

“Any benefits that promote freedom and sharing will give the employees a sense of belonging. Perks and benefits should be seen as building a community and making employees feel connected to their work place,” he says.


5. Cheap activities instead of fancy parties

As much as start-ups would like to host parties to celebrate milestones, their financial situation won’t allow it.

Says Thornton, “Instead of renting out fancy hotels, go for outdoor/indoor activities that are firstly cheaper, and probably more enjoyable. For example, our next team activity is an archery competition.”

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