The overall success of a company depends on several factors, and one of these is employee happiness and satisfaction. Although companies see their employees as one of their most valuable assets, most of them think that offering a high salary is enough to keep them working. However, many employees now believe that salaries are becoming more of a gateway rather than a scorecard and that there are more efficient ways to keep them happy and satisfied (Murphy, n.d.).
The appeal of non-monetary perks is undeniable, and this is seen as an area for improvement for most companies. Grocery-delivery service Peapod reported that 48% of employees would take account of company perks, such as free snacks, in their hunt for a new job (Malcolm, 2015). As the job market is getting competitive, the advantage is on the side of the skilled workforce that does not just job-hunt for the highest income but for the best employee perks (Taylor, 2019).
This comprehensive guide talks about why companies must begin developing more inclusive employee perks or improve their already existing ones, in what forms these perks could be offered, and how they affect and boost employee morale.
Human resources software enterprise BambooHR strongly agrees that letting employees know how valuable they are to companies is a necessity. Hence, they encourage offering the best employee perks to maintain a culture of appreciation within workplaces (Perucci, 2018).
The idea that employees who are taken care of function better is not new. Companies all over the world are starting to recognize that providing employee perks does many wonders for self-esteem and efficiency, but some employers are still hesitant to offer something other than salary. To combat this skepticism, industry experts share their insights and experiences with offering employee perks.
Bluedog Design CEO and Founder Michelle Hayward thinks that a flexible work arrangement is the most underrated and least used perk. For her, employees are accountable enough to attend their children’s school programs or to work remotely when the need arises or make commuting less draining.
Maple Holistics HR Manager Nate Masterson states that even the simplest of gestures, like offering a round of golf or lunch at a 5-star restaurant, can already motivate employees to get through a workday.
USA Today Network Strategic HR Business Partner Patrick Colvin emphasizes that companies must see the connection between employee perks and employee retention. To engage and retain talent, offer generous employee perks.
Access Perks HR Director Lisa Oyler agrees that being empathetic toward employees would not hurt companies. Employee engagement and retention outweigh the cost and effort of offering employee perks.
Southwest Airlines Founder and former CEO Herb Kelleher claims that when employees are happy, they make others happy. Investing in health care, buying employees new laptops. or paying for their communication bills benefit the company, too (Belosic, n.d.).
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What Employee Perks Would Mean to American Workers
What Employee Perks Would Mean to American Workers Reduced stress: 61
What Employee Perks Would Mean to American Workers Improved financial situation: 53
Improved financial situation
What Employee Perks Would Mean to American Workers Loyalty to their employer: 52
Loyalty to their employer
What Employee Perks Would Mean to American Workers Success in work and life: 49
Success in work and life
Metlife Employee Benefit Trends Study, 2020
Freebies, Discounts, and Other Rewards
Being recognized at work always feels good. If a simple thank-you or compliment can make ordinary days extraordinary, imagine what freebies, discounts, and other rewards can make employees feel.
Employee Discounts and Rewards
Employees want to feel cared for, whether what you are offering to them is work-related or not. That’s why more companies are exclusively offering employee discounts and rewards, from retail to dining, to fitness.
Discounted Prescription Medicine Prices
Some health care insurance plans do not cover medication or leave copay still quite expensive. Thus, providing employees with discounted prescription medicine prices is considered one of the most effective employee retention strategies (Murphy, n.d.).
Care and Appreciation Gifts
All employees wish to be recognized by their employers, who can best express that recognition through means that go beyond salary. There are various employee care platforms available nowadays that can help companies kick off their care and appreciation gifts initiatives.
Launching appreciation programs can be attributed to business reasons. An employee who never gets recognized at work is most likely to leave his or her job within a year. Moreover, employees who feel appreciated and recognized will stay, become more productive, and even make clients happier (Murphy, n.d.).
Whether they are snack pantries, free or discounted meals, or gourmet dining, the convenience of having food nearby allows employees to save time on going outside to buy food and not get interrupted in their ongoing tasks. Free food also helps them save money and interact with other coworkers whenever they meet each other at designated in-house office food stations (Gendelman, 2016).
The California headquarters of Facebook has an in-house chef who serves free breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day to employees. After 5:30 PM, employees are also free to have a margarita (Business.com, 2020).
Company Product or Service Discounts
Company product or service discounts is a motivating perk for employees. This practice will make employees feel valued and involved. It also serves the purpose of getting constructive feedback about company products or services.
Apple, Samsung, and Google are known to test their anticipated products first with their employees. Meanwhile, Discovery Communications holds premiers inside the company before launching their programs to the public (Murphy, n.d.).
Health and Wellness
Effective health and wellness initiatives result in significant behavior changes for employees. In this era, being healthy also means making organizational practices mentally and culturally fit for employees. (Bedrick, n.d.).
Workplace Wellness Program
In 2015, Annals of Internal Medicine published a study about the effects of the typical American work-life nature on its workers. Sitting for a long period at work can cause risks of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes. These health effects can, in turn, cost employers increased health care expenses, low morale, and less efficient manpower.
To fight this phenomenon, many employers are now offering workplace wellness programs. These programs range from biometric screenings to full-scale projects aimed at improving the overall workplace culture, like stress management, sleep improvement, and mental wellbeing programs.
Onsite Health Clinic
Design and manufacturing company Steelcase built an onsite health clinic where employees can book a massage therapist or consult with a registered nurse. The company also offers healthy and varied food options available in its pantry (Paljug, 2020).
Sitting for eight hours a day in a stress-prone job may leave employees physically and mentally exhausted. In the long run, this cycle may take a toll on their health.
It is no wonder why many employees are now wishing to have onsite gym facilities. EMC offers monetary incentives for healthy choices, including getting vaccinated or a gym membership. 23andMe also has its own onsite gym that conducts yoga, Pilates, and strength training, as well as installed treadmill desks for employees.
Glassdoor’s 2015 employment confidence survey revealed that 40% of respondents value health insurance more than a salary increase. No affordable public health insurance option was available for many Americans back then, and they can only afford it by getting employed.
Generally, employee-sponsored health insurance is still cheaper than public or private insurance. Companies can also gain from decreased absenteeism due to sickness and higher employee engagement for the reason that employer-sponsored health insurance makes employees feel that they are being well taken care of.
Employers' Direct Savings from Employee Perks
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Leaves make employees feel that their employers trust them enough to keep their tasks on track and carry out results while having the luxury to take their much-needed breaks. This trust creates mutual respect between employers and employees, resulting in a more balanced and productive workplace (Murphy, n.d.).
Paid Time Off/Vacation
According to studies on money and happiness, experiences make people happier than material things. Another Glassdoor survey also revealed that employees valued paid time off/vacation more than a salary increase. Many companies have accepted such an idea, which is evident in their open vacation programs and summer Fridays.
Giant streaming platform Netflix has realized that its unlimited vacation policy has given the company many advantages such as a more productive workforce.
Paid Sick Leave
Like paid time off/vacation, paid sick leave gives employees back their time while feeling appreciated and cared for. It also keeps the work environment healthy during the cold and flu season. Furthermore, it tells employees that it is reasonable to stay at home when they are not feeling fine.
COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear yet; therefore, offering paid COVID-19 leave can aid employees at these crucial times. This perk should cover anything COVID-related, such as taking care of a COVID-stricken loved one or dealing with childcare changes due to school closure (Blumberg, n.d.).
Career advancement programs teach employees how to perform their jobs more effectively. At the same time, they will know that they have a path for more career opportunities within the company (Cross, n.d.).
Despite the already discussed limitations of monetary incentives. they still work. The appropriate approach is to connect monetary incentives to the principles or emotions that keep employees engaged with their jobs.
LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman and co-authors Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh argue that lifetime employment is not possible or sensible anymore. This instance implies that employers and employees must form a mutually beneficial relationship by means of in-house professional development programs. Employers must now plan for the individual and professional growth of their employees (Murphy, n.d.).
Educational aid perks help employees to upskill. These perks also increase loyalty among younger employees or recent graduates, especially those who have huge student debts to pay (Bedrick, n.d.).
The cost of tuition has increased in recent years, leading to the decreasing number of college graduates. Tuition assistance allows employees to work and attend school at the same time, helping them save on tuition expenses and unemployment costs.
Student Loan Repayment Assistance
TIME reports that 44 million Americans have an unpaid student loan. In this manner, companies can help their employees lessen the debt they have incurred to finish their studies and get employed (Outback Team Building, 2020).
Perceptive companies have developed familial aid programs to enable strong work and familial responsibilities to coexist. Investing in these perks fosters respect between employers and employees.
Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave
Apple provides complimentary egg freezing services to its female workers. Microsoft also offers prolonged maternity and paternity leaves that exceed minimum requirements.
For employees, perks like fertility programs and parental leaves are clear messages that there is life after work. (Murphy, n.d.).
Childcare, which is non-negotiable for many American households, can cost up to $700 per month. Many households consider this amount a major financial setback (Outback Team Building, 2020). Childcare support from companies will greatly help families sustain childcare and raise their children well.
Some trends in employee perks have been effective, while others are still yet to be determined if they really work. Helping employees achieve financial stability is one of those perks that has been proven to keep them content in work and in life (Breeze, n.d.).
Financial Literacy and Money Management Programs
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, only 24% of Millenials manifest basic financial literacy (Petrov, 2021). Promoting financial literacy and money management programs can go a long way, whether it is hiring an industry expert to discuss relevant topics or designing a comprehensive savings program (Outback Team Building, 2020).
401(K), Pension and/or Retirement Saving Plans
Helping employees plan for their future through 401(K) and other similar plans are some of the best employee perks to ever exist. With 401(K), pension, and/or retirement saving plans, employers can level up their saving techniques by financially supporting employees’ savings and searching for more cost-efficient ways to offer employee perks (Murphy, n.d.).
In 2016, Greek yogurt company Chobani gave its employees equity with huge potential value. CEO Hamdi Ulukaya stated then that the equity award was a mutual agreement to collaborate with a common goal and responsibility (Miller, 2016).
Stock options also work like performance incentives as they provide employees with a sense of ownership in the triumph of their companies. This perk will also let employees feel that they are making something more impactful in their lives.
National Center for Employee Ownership, 2018
Other Employee Perks
Today’s employees expect a lot from the modern workplace, and this includes the expectation that they can stay true to themselves and enjoy being at work at the same time. Here are other cool employee perks that most workers are looking for.
Flexible Work Arrangement (Remote Work)
Employees who try to balance their personal and professional lives look for a workplace culture that promotes flexibility. A flexible work arrangement, such as remote work, is becoming a basic need for employees who must perform numerous obligations for their families.
Employees who work in flexible arrangements feel trusted and more engaged in their work. They also achieve a greater quality of life because they no longer feel that they must sacrifice their profession for their familial or academic responsibilities. These situations offer more long-term benefits to companies as well.
Unique Workplace Amenities
Employees can definitely find more happiness while working with the help of team-building activities, a pet-friendly room, entertainment options like a basketball court or live music, or other amenities or programs that can make them feel that they no longer have to separate their real persona from their professional persona (Murphy, n.d.).
Commuting is time-consuming for many American employees. In the 2019 Urban Mobility Report of Texas A&M Transportation Institute, commuters spend between 50 and 82 hours on major city roads. Companies can alleviate this burden through rideshares, public transportation passes, or shuttle buses.
Diversity in the workplace refers to hiring applicants not only for their expertise but for how they can culturally contribute to the company. This concept means assessing the existing culture and searching for diverse viewpoints (Murphy, n.d.).
Being committed to upholding LGBTQIA+ rights and diversity, Accenture sponsors gender reassignment for their employees (Fast Company, 2016).
Employees are not just working to submit reports and beat deadlines, these people are helping build companies. In essence, smart business leaders should know two important things—a negative work environment is not conducive to creativity and productivity and a high salary alone cannot suffice employees’ labor (Bedrick, n.d.). Prioritizing employee perks is a remarkable manifestation that companies appreciate the hard work of their employees. (Outback Team Building, 2020).