Benefits Strategy

What are Employee Perks and Are They Important?

Written by Kate

There was a time when hefty paychecks alone were the ideal talent magnets to attract, retain, and motivate in-demand industry professionals. However, the job landscape has changed dramatically, and fringe benefits such as employee perks are becoming an increasingly non-negotiable part of the overall employee work experience. These perks keep employees happy, helping you build an engaged and motivated workforce. They are now key to improved job satisfaction and employee engagement.

employee perks matter

Employees today are keen to achieve a healthy work-life balance. They find job perks and positive company culture to be strong drivers in accepting or rejecting a job offer. As companies vie for talent, they stand out substantially  when they offer unique company perks. In fact, according to 64% of millennials, there is a direct relationship between employee perks and loyalty toward companies. This means that offering good employee perks is key to improving employee satisfaction, increasing retention, and maintaining an engaged workforce.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at  employee perks and why they matter to businesses. Click on the sections below to read more!

What are Employee Perks?

Employee perks are a form of non-wage compensation provided to employees beyond their salaries and benefits. Unlike employee benefits, they are neither necessities nor required by the law. Instead, they are a part of the company culture and add to the overall employee experience. According to businesswoman Julie Bevacqua, “In order to build a rewarding employee experience, you need to understand what matters most to your people.”

What is the Difference Between Employee Benefits and Employee Perks?

Most people use the terms “employee benefits” and “employee perks” interchangeably. However, there are key differences between the two. Your employees need benefits like workers’ compensation insurance, social security, and health insurance. However, perks are not a need. Your employees want perks. Here are the major differences between the two:

  • Benefits are more of a financial investment, such as health insurance plans, or even health spending accounts (e.g. HSA, FSA, and HRA). Perks do not limit themselves to monetary assistance. They can be unique, fun offerings.
  • While employee benefits are more costly than perks, the latter may have a more significant impact on the company culture. 
  • The same benefits are available to all employees. However, perks may differ from employee to employee based on their job performance, seniority, or specific job requirements.

Why Do Employee Perks Matter?

Top talent will obtain their desired compensation where they go. As such, it is unique and compelling job perks that will become the differentiating factor. You can entice the best and the brightest minds to your company with valuable employee perks.Attracting talent is one piece of the puzzle. The remainder deals with how to keep that talent happy and engaged in your company, and that’s where employee perks help. 49% of employees don’t mind leaving their job over a lack of benefits. Perks are strong drivers for employee satisfaction and loyalty.

What are the Most Common Types of Employee Perks?

Parental Leave

Career advancements and rich family life are very challenging to balance. It is common for professional men and women to either delay planning their families in order to excel in their careers, or one of the parents must adjust their career path as they welcome a new life. Luckily, companies that offer parental leave can help ensure that work culture and family can coexist.

Paid parental leave is one of the most crucial employee perks, as it offers income support when a parent takes care of their newborn or newly adopted baby. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows two weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child.

parental leave

While parental leave may differ from state to state, companies are taking charge and offering time off work to new parents. These policies shed light on the company culture and highlight companies’ attention to employee wellness.

Employee Recognition Programs

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, if companies recognize 2x the number of employees every week, they may witness:

  • 24% improvement in work quality
  • 27% reduction in absenteeism
  • 10% reduction in staff shrinkage

Why? This is simply because employees like to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work and achievements.

You can distribute employee rewards by offering freebies like basketball tickets, hotel deals, and food and beverage vouchers. Or you may run various employee recognition programs to build engaged, self-motivated teams, such as:

  • Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year
  • Peer-to-peer recognition
  • Spot recognition
  • Pay raise/Monetary rewards
  • Non-monetary rewards and incentives like employee discounts/vouchers

Incentivizing your employees for their dedication and hard work motivates them to stay productive and perform better. Moreover, such perks at work keep the employees happy and establish a positive company culture.

Investment & Financial Planning Opportunities

Every employee has a goal to achieve financial security and build wealth. Offering investment opportunities and financial planning assistance as an employee perk is an efficient way to ensure your team gains financial freedom. Remember, the more secure your employees are, the more stress-free they will be. As a result, you can expect more enthusiasm and better work outputs.

Here are a few of the most popular investment options: 

  • Stock Options: When you offer employees the opportunity to purchase company stock at a discounted price, it comes under stock options. It’s simple — if the company grows, the employees share a part of the success. In this way, the goal of both parties align.
  • Retirement Plans: Retirement plans, like 401(k) plans, come in the form of employee-sponsored plans where employees get the opportunity to save for their future. Its advantage is that employees don’t need to pay taxes until they withdraw from their accounts.

Investment Education: The investment decisions you make today will impact your future tax liabilities. It is why financial literacy is important. However, it’s not common knowledge and not many people understand the basics of investing and financial planning. Therefore, employers offer investment education programs to help employees make well-calculated financial decisions.

Lunch Stipend

A lunch stipend is believed to have a direct correlation with employee happiness.

To many, the lunch stipend may seem like a petty job perk on the surface. However, if you dig the concept of eating together as a team, you’d realize it has consequential benefits. In fact, a study by Cornell University found that if employees eat meals together, it may result in a boost in productivity.

This employee perk involves allowing current employees to purchase meals on-site or order delivery to the office. Employers may also club it with a health and wellness initiative and offer healthy meal options to the team.

While nutritious meals keep them healthy, an on-site meal can encourage social interaction among employees and create a sense of community and kinship. As a result, it can have a positive impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

Relocation and Housing Options

Sometimes, a job requires employees to change cities and bear the expenses of relocation. The process of relocation is both hectic and expensive, and thus, many companies are now offering relocation packages to lure new talent and retain their current employees.

A job relocation package typically includes moving expenses, temporary housing or rental assistance, and assistance with buying or selling a home. The primary goal of this perk is to reduce the financial stress of the employees and help make the transition smoother and more manageable. Moreover, offering an attractive relocation package can empower your brand to stand out from competing recruiters and attract and retain top-performing industry players.

What are the Most Sought-After Employee Perks?

Flexible Work Arrangements

The traditional office environment with a 9-5 job is increasingly becoming a tale of the past. Flexible working hours are one of the most popular employee perks, especially after the pandemic. 

Flexible hours allow employees to choose their work schedules. They can decide when to begin and end work at their convenience and peak productivity levels.

flexible work arrangement

Women, especially working mothers, value flexible schedules the most since child-rearing responsibilities still fall more on women than men. So be it dropping off and picking up kids, or taking the child to the doctor, the work flexibility accommodates it. 

Being available for their families makes individuals feel more happy and satisfied, which translates into better work performance.

Professional Development

If you wish to reduce employee turnover and enhance work productivity, it’s a good idea to include upskilling initiatives for professional development.

Professional development is one of the most sought-after job perks that help in attracting the best candidates and retaining employees for longer tenures. You can do so through  various means, including arranging employee development & training programs, education courses, conferences, workshops, mentorship, coaching, and job shadowing. 

You can also offer educational stipends or tuition reimbursement to develop a pool of qualified young employees and improve company loyalty. Granted, this can be a costly job perk, but you can limit your expenses by setting up some eligibility requirements for participating employees. For example, only full-time employees with a certain educational background/performance grade can enroll in the professional development program.

In addition to these traditional methods, exploring unique career paths such as opportunities in travel lab tech jobs can provide employees with enriching experiences and growth opportunities in diverse environments.

Work From Home Setup

A Clutch 2018 Employee Benefits Survey reported that working from home is one of the most high-demand employee perks. The pandemic made remote work a reality, and the trend doesn’t seem to be taking a backseat. 

While it’s great to work closely together with the team, the convenience and flexibility of remote work can let you attract many well-qualified employees. In addition, remote work culture cuts down commuting time, leads to controlled expenses, and reflects in better work-life balance. It’s noo wonder why many remote employees are hesitant to go back to their on-site office routine. 

Consider keeping your employees happy by allowing them flexible hours and the opportunity to choose their work spot. It can also help you amp up your employee retention rate and attract remote job seekers, hence driving better business outcomes.

Health & Wellness Programs

Today, most employees’ daily jobs involve sitting for long hours and working on a computer screen without breaks. It leads to the birth of several negative long-term health effects, including cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It may also cause short-term health issues, such as insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, tiredness, and more. 

Luckily, young employees today are concerned about their physical health and mental health. That’s why companies are notably investing more resources in employee wellness programs that promote active and healthy lifestyles. Here are a few examples of health and wellness programs that are known to improve employee engagement:

  • On site fitness centers
  • Free or discounted gym membership
  • Yoga and meditation wellness programs
  • Free drinks and healthy snacks
  • Wellness initiatives such as weight loss challenges or smoking cessation programs
  • Therapy or counseling sessions to develop mechanisms for stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns
  • Investing in height-adjustable standing desks
  • Regular health screenings to track blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Free nutritious snacks and drinks to promote healthy living

Student Loan Assistance

Student loan debt assistance is an employee perk that helps employees pay off their student loans faster. 

The cost of rising higher education has been seeping into the employees’ paychecks for years, particularly younger employees. Giving employees financial assistance to repay their loans can lift a lot of burden off their shoulders. 

Offering financial aid to employees with their loans will help the company in the long run. The burden of financial stress and anxiety impacts employees’ productivity and overall performance. The loan assistance is likely to alleviate this stress and improve overall financial wellness among employees.

What Should Organizations Consider When Choosing Employee Perks to Offer?

team considering employee perks

As modern compensation moves beyond a competitive salary package, employee perks and benefits plans are a necessity since employees, especially Millennials and GenZ, expect them.

But before you jump to offering employee perks package, here are factors you need to consider:

  • The specific needs and preferences of their employees. Bachelors, adults with kids, and young families — all have a separate set of needs. Conduct a survey to understand the bifurcation of every employee’s relevant perk.
  • Ensure the employee perks you provide are aligning well with your overall company culture and company values.
  • Consider what your competitors are offering as their employee perk program.
  • Last but not least, weigh the cost of your employee perk against the potential company benefits. You don’t want your perks to go in vain!

Closing Thoughts

The power of creating a happy workplace culture and offering company perks goes beyond material or visual advantages. On the surface, it may look like just free food, pet insurance, gym membership, or the occasional team outing. However, all this sums up to creating a positive work environment, fostering loyalty, and boosting employee morale. Not to mention, these perks are a significant help in attracting, retaining, and engaging in-demand employees. 

If you are ready to introduce a lucrative employee perk program in your company, let us help. We are a comprehensive and flexible wellness solution company to help other companies foster a healthier and happier workplace. Sign up for a free demo on our website today or schedule a call with our benefits experts to design the best employee perks plan for your staff.

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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