A perk is something you offer employees to motivate and support them, but the best employee perks involve more than free coffee and snacks. Although free food and beverages are enticing perks, employees are demanding more innovative employee perks from their employers as their needs evolve. Employers should take note of these demands, as recent developments have empowered employees to negotiate for better salaries and benefits but also non-traditional employee benefits like professional development or tuition reimbursement.
This article will list some of the best employee perks you can offer your colleagues and discuss how these perks can improve employee recruitment and retention.
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Why Should You Offer Perks?
People are leaving their jobs in record numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quit rate across all industries has reached the highest level ever, with the current record being 3% of the workforce. The objective reasons behind this phenomenon include everything from the pandemic and the generous benefits offered to employees laid off due to lockdowns to changing attitudes toward work and reasons that pre-date the pandemic.
But employees are speaking out as well, and many list three main reasons for leaving their current job, including:
Whatever the reasons employees give for leaving their jobs, the top employee retention strategies all advise that offering employees perks will make them stay. The “perks” that attract and retain employees are not what most people think. Employers should go beyond offering superficial, unsubstantial perks and focus more on training and development activities for employees if they want to know how to be an attractive employer.
Offering perks is a win-win for all involved. Employees feel listened to and, most importantly, respected by their employers. Employers, in turn, retain current employees, become more attractive to prospective employees, and benefit from increases in productivity and employee morale.
What Is the Difference Between the Best Employee Perks and Benefits?
Perks and benefits are not the same thing. A perk is something that comes separate from your basic company benefits package, which includes necessities (or “need-to-haves”) like health care, dental care, and a pension or retirement savings plan. Perks at your company will address other employee needs that employers have not generally fulfilled.
In the past, things like tuition reimbursement or employee development programs were considered outside the realm of a company’s responsibilities. But companies soon realized that ensuring employees’ well-being and offering them more than a salary and benefits was a sensible, cost-effective, and creative way to attract employees.
Perks are also a great way to retain your best employees and reduce employee turnover. Many studies have shown that employee loyalty increases when perks are offered but especially when they are inclusive, wide-ranging, and truly supportive of work–life balance for your most trusted employees.
What Are the Best Employee Perks?
The best employee perks cover a wide range of needs and are unique to the company’s brand, industry, or mission. However, certain classes of perks can be distinguished from others; a professional development budget, for instance, is different from gourmet food being offered at the office.
While thinking about which perks to offer employees, you should consider what you are able to offer, in relation to your size, budget, industry, and what your competitors offer their employees. If you are a small to mid-sized business, employer partnerships can give your employees the chance to learn new skills or upgrade without eating into your training and recruitment budget.
These perks – professional development, new skills, and quality-of-life perks (health insurance, childcare) – are what employees are looking for, above all others, as evidenced by their responses to a Pew Research Center poll that asked what factors were motivating them to quit during the Great Resignation. A small business considering these employee demands can do away with free lunches, coffee and lifestyle perks to offer their employees and families something more substantial like paid time off, maternity and paternity leave, or a better pension plan.
1. Career and Self-Development
The career and self-development services offered by BeMo are much sought-after by employees. Many of the reasons employees give for leaving their jobs include the lack of a possibility to upskill, no professional development program, and no way to give their family more educational and professional opportunities via expert consulting advice or professional tutoring.
An employer partnership with BeMo remedies all these common complaints. BeMo professional services are also available at a competitive price point with all services being offered to scale, compared to flat-rate and hidden fees or other professional development agencies.
An employer partnership is also a good way to compete with large, multinational corporations who have the budgets and resources to offer their employees a wide range of perks, from the banal, like free foods, snacks, or massage therapy to more relevant, sought-after perks like personal development, skill acquisition, and family-friendly benefits.
2. Employee-Centered Perks
According to a recent Gallup poll, an increase in pay, job security, and a focus on well-being were the most popular answers given by employees when asked what they wanted most from their employers: 64% of respondents said increased pay was what they most wanted, while a greater work–life balance came in at a close second with 61%.
Company-wide pay increases may be hard to implement but addressing the need for employee well-being can take many different roads. Simple, cost-effective ways to create a more stress-free work environment can include anything from allowing employees to bring pets to the office to giving them access to free bikes or other exercise equipment.
Of course, giving employees more peace of mind can also include things like more flexible schedules, introducing remote work for some employees, and letting employees decide when and for how long they work. Well-being does not have to mean having an on-site yoga instructor or massage therapist, but giving employees more freedom and autonomy, overall.
3. Office-Centered Perks
The significance of the “office” has come under scrutiny in the last few years, and this shift in thinking has also made once standard, office-centered perks like free lunches, free books, and allowances for transportation costs obsolete. Some companies have tried to lure employees back into the office by offering perks like free food, roof-top gardens, and even cash payments.
But these companies have found that using the tried-and-true gimmicks of the past – free lunches, subsidized parking, massages – is ineffective. Employees are not willing to give up the gains they made during lockdown (the freedom to set their own hours, remote work) and disrupt their lives again to go back to the office for free ice cream.
Instead, more and more employees are listing intangibles like more responsive and accessible leadership, or time spent with colleagues and team members. One survey found that 20% of those surveyed would never return to the office, no matter what their employer offered them. But, again, in the same survey, many respondents said a pay raise tied to returning to office work would make them come back. Taking all this into account, perhaps the best office-centered employee perks a company could offer are the freedom and flexibility to let employees decide for themselves what they need most.
4. Non-Office-Centered Perks
At the height of the pandemic, when remote work was peaking, a Gallup survey found that remote workers did not want to give up the freedoms and benefits they gained while working remotely. Almost 60% of those surveyed said they wanted to work remotely for as long as possible, even after public health restrictions were lifted.
It seems that remote workers are finding perks in remote work that employers do not even need to offer, like no commute time, flexible work hours, and spending more time with their families and children. The conversation around perks – no matter the category of perk – always seems to circle back to that one, undeniable, long-sought-after perk that employees have been clamoring for since forever – freedom.
How much freedom you want to give your employees – letting them work remotely, letting them set their schedules – is up to you, but using hardball tactics (laying off remote workers first, or saying remote workers will be fired if they don’t return to the office) can backfire because many employees have chosen to leave inflexible companies, rather than sacrifice important gains.
If your workforce is already largely remote, you can take it a step further by offering remote workers tangible perks like a home office budget. But since most professionals already have a home office or workspace, they would probably prefer the freedom to work from home first, if they do not have it already.
5. Family-Friendly Perks
Family-friendly perks were once understood to be anything that addressed the needs of an employee’s family members, like childcare, health care, and family-based social events. But there are other ways you can include employees’ family members in your company benefits’ package, such as by proposing the educational and professional advancement services offered by BeMo.
Extending your generosity to the people who matter most to your employees – their children – is an effective retention method if you’ve been wondering how to reduce employee turnover or how to retain your best employees. As a leader in academic consulting, BeMo can help with college admissions consulting to guide students on how best to apply to their chosen program or school. In addition to helping them at each step of the application process, we provide students with everything from college essay tips to college interview prep help.
6. Standard Perks
Employees and employers may have different definitions of what a perk is, what it is not and what perks should be considered standard in any workplace. Employees may think things like a competitive salary, health, dental and mental health insurance for them and their families, and professional development opportunities are not perks, per se, but standard offerings to ensure job satisfaction.
An employer may think that perks are whatever they offer their employees on top of their salary and benefits package, so, for them, a perk can be something superficial like free parking or readily available snacks and beverages. If you are this type of employer, you should change your definition of what a “perk” means to you and your employees, so you can offer them something more substantial like comprehensive health insurance, a retirement savings plan, or equity in the company.
Standard perks are also whatever employment laws and regulations in your area dictate, including paid time off and health insurance. Because “perks” and benefits are often used interchangeably, you can kill two birds with one stone by extending or improving on an already-standard benefit – time off, for example – by giving employees more vacation days or letting their time off accumulate.
7. Financial Perks
Perks can be money too and separate from salary. A lot of companies throw financial incentives, like signing bonuses, company equity, stock options, and personal development funds into hiring offers to lure the best talent. Some companies even offer to reimburse employees’ tuition expenses if they require assistance to pay back their student loans.
These types of financial incentives are often the best and most innovative employee perks because they make up for salary shortfalls and increase the employee value proposition of any company that deploys them. But recent studies have shown that 97% of employers surveyed said they also feel responsible for ensuring their employees’ financial security.
This feeling of responsibility has translated into many employers enhancing existing benefits and perks. Financial strain has hit many working people hard, and some are discovering that their current salaries and benefits are not enough to cushion the blow from this new economic environment. An employer that recognizes this need, as many of those surveyed did, should take action beyond paying lip service to the problem. Being cognizant of the financial stress placed on your employees also benefits you, as an employer, as your employees will be more likely to focus on their work when they feel supported and have less to worry about on a daily basis.
Of course, employers have self-serving reasons to offer financial bonuses, like figuring out how to attract employees. But offering financial incentives is one of the many different innovative employee retention strategies to use because they meet the real-world needs of employees, build loyalty and morale, and help attract the best talent.
The best employee perks see an employee as a fully realized human being and try to address their needs as such. Employee perks can be used as an enticement to bring in new hires, but they can also become standard in any employee benefits package. The range, scope, and duration of perks are in the hands of employers, but one out-of-the-box recruiting strategy posits that perks like more time off, flexible work hours, and paid paternity leave should be the new standard and not even thought of as perks.
1. What is the difference between a benefit and a perk?
Benefits are essential offerings (salary, health insurance, paid vacation), while perks are optional advantages of working at a company, such as bonuses, wellness retreats, or gym memberships.
2. What is professional development?
Professional development refers to any action or training an employee undertakes to improve their professional profile, so it can range from things like management training courses to employee development programs.
3. Why should a company offer employees perks?
Perks are an option any company can include or withdraw based on their budgets, needs, and size, but perks are among the top employee retention strategies that do not require increasing payroll or other benefits.
4. Are employee perks affordable?
Perks are affordable depending on the perk involved and whether the company has the budget to implement them. Companies should think of perks as an investment, rather than simply as an expenditure that will bring no returns.
5. Are perks more important than salary?
Salaries are determined by a lot of different factors. Every company decides their base salaries on things like experience, skills, and seniority. But perks can often be as good as a high salary because they can help an employee save on a necessary expense like food or childcare.
6. What kind of perks should I offer or look for?
The perks you offer your employees or the perks you look for in an employer depend on what you are prepared to offer and what your specific needs are. If you’re a single parent, then a company that offers free childcare is attractive, but if you run a labor-intensive business, then offering your employees childcare makes less sense than offering comprehensive health insurance.
7. What are the best employee perks?
The best employee perks are the ones that fill a need in your employees’ lives and help them to be more productive and happier, overall. You should find out what your employees want by asking them and adjusting your perks or benefits according to their input.
8. Does offering the best employee perks help increase productivity?
Offering employees perks is one of the best ways to increase employee productivity among other strategies like increased salaries, professional development, and more feedback.
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