Employee experience is top of mind for many People Ops professionals—and for good reason. The talent landscape is extremely competitive, and companies must do all they can to hold on to their top performers and attract new talent.
There are many things that go into a strong employee experience and, sometimes, the details can make a world of difference. Enter: employee perks.
Employee perks go beyond traditional benefits, like health and dental insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans, to provide employees with a little extra. Some are easy to implement, others require more foresight, but all of these have the potential to improve your employee experience.
11 employee perks you can offer
- Work from home: Most US workers (80 to 90 percent) say they would like to work remotely at least part-time. Remote work can eliminate a long commute and provide a better work-life balance. If your employees’ work is conducive to remote work, there are many ways you can structure it. For instance, you might allow people to work from home full-time or part-time. You may limit remote work to specific days of the week, or at the manager’s discretion. This perk doesn’t have to cost anything, although some companies will offer a stipend to help employees create a more comfortable home office.
- Flex hours: Not all work needs to be done Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9am and 5pm. If your employees’ work is conducive to flex hours, allow them to choose when they complete their work. You can create a policy that works best for your company. This could include requiring all employees to be available for the same 2-hour period during the day to ensure collaboration. Or it could only be granted on an individual basis. For instance, to allow a working parent to pick up their kids from school, and resume work after their child has gone to bed for the night.
- Floating holidays: Many companies offer the standard 7-10 paid holidays, but those won’t always align with the holidays your employees celebrate. Your Jewish employees may not have Christmas plans, but will appreciate time off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Some employees may prefer to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year instead of January 1 as New Year’s Day. Floating holidays allow your employees to take time off on the days that matter the most to them.
- Professional development: Learning and development opportunities help your employees grow in their careers—and give you a more talented workforce. This can include things like tuition reimbursement, onsite lunch and learns, or a conference budget. Pair this with career mapping to show employees how they can grow with your company.
- Fitness reimbursement: A fitness reimbursement can help your employees maintain physical and mental health, so they feel more energized (and can stay focused at work). Pick the amount you want to reimburse and allow employees to choose how to spend it. Some may choose to use it on a gym membership, while others may opt to use it on things like a snowboarding season pass or golf tournament.
- Food: Providing snacks or full meals at the office can help your employees stay fueled up and focused. Some companies will do this once a week with bagel Mondays or team lunch Fridays to create a fun tradition that brings employees together. Others may offer a fully stocked kitchen and/or daily catered lunches.
- Volunteer days: Companies can expand their corporate responsibility program by providing employees with paid volunteer days. For instance, Salesforce employees get seven paid volunteer days each year to use as they wish. Other companies may choose to plan company-wide or department-wide volunteer activities, such as a day working with Habitat for Humanity.
- Childcare: Between sick days and school closures, childcare can be a huge obstacle for working parents. Large companies may offer onsite childcare, but smaller companies can offer childcare perks as well. For instance, subsidies, flexible spending account, or backup childcare assistance. Toy company Mattel even allows parents to take paid time off to attend their childrens’ school events.
- Dog-friendly office: A dog is a “man’s best friend,” and who wouldn’t want to bring their best friend to work? This perk can simplify life for those with a furry friend by allowing them to feed and walk their dogs as needed throughout the day. As an added benefit, having dogs in the office can even reduce stress for your employees. But beware: some people are allergic or afraid of dogs. Run this perk by current employees, make it clear during your recruitment process, and be prepared to make alternate arrangements as needed.
- Sabbaticals: Encourage employees to stay at your company long-term by offering paid sabbaticals as they reach milestones. Your sabbatical program might allow employees to spend the time off as they wish, or may stipulate that they use the time for career development opportunities.
- Colleague coffee or lunch dates: Encourage employees to get to know each other outside of the office by setting aside budget for colleague coffee or lunch dates. Randomly match employees from different departments and provide a gift card to a nearby coffee shop. Or encourage teams to get together for weekly lunches or happy hours by providing each manager with a budget for such gatherings.
How to choose employee perks
- Choose employee perks that align with your company culture. You don’t have to offer every perk under the sun to improve your employee experience, but the right perks can appeal to the right people. Choose your perks to align with your company culture. For instance, AirBNB offers a travel credit to employees and Burton offers flex hours to allow employees to hit the slopes on snow days.
- Be mindful of your budget. Some employee perks are free to offer (like remote work options), while others will require an increase in budget (like a gym reimbursement). Choose the perks you can afford to offer to all employees—and consider your growth trajectory.
- Ask your employees. If you want to know which perks will help you provide a better employee experience and retain talent, ask your employees what they’d like to see. Add some of your top choices as a question on your next employee engagement or pulse survey, and leave blank space for employees to submit new ideas.
- Consider perks that will help you diversify your workforce. Flex hours and remote work options appeal to working parents. Floating holidays can help you attract and retain talent from various cultural and religious backgrounds. A robust employee development program can help you attract candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. Learn which groups have low employee engagement scores and high turnover, and consider offering perks that will appeal to those groups.
Final thoughts on employee perks
Just as every company’s employee experience is unique, their employee perks will be as well. Create a package that aligns with your company, and that will grow with you over time. Perks should be considered an investment that will help your organization attract and retain talent, so don’t be afraid to set aside budget for things that will make a difference. When the total cost of turnover is estimated at 33 percent of the employee’s base pay, implementing new employee perks could save you in the long run