In today’s job market there is no shortage of innovative employee perks designed to maximize workers’ happiness and productivity. While companies jostle to attract and retain qualified employees, benefits have become an increasingly tantalizing part of a competitive offer. You’ve heard legends of fridges stocked with craft beer, Summer Fridays, and egg freezing benefits. Doggy daycare, gym memberships, and nap rooms make an extra few minutes around the water cooler look like torture in comparison.
While some of these work perks may sound over-the-top, research shows that they matter. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that three out of four Millennials agree that work-life balance drives their career choices. Industry leaders have become increasingly vocal about the importance of perks to sweeten base salaries, and Glassdoor’s annual Employee Confidence Survey found that four out of five people prefer new or additional employee benefits to a pay increase.
Which Are Most Effective?
So, what benefits matter most when managing an office of employees? While anything that enhances an employee’s daily experience at a company can be considered a ‘perk,’ we’ve compiled 10 innovative ideas designed to boost employee happiness, well-being, productivity, and retention. These include:
- In-office exercise classes
- Fresh-flowers on employee desks
- Paid volunteering time
- Ergonomically correct workspaces
- Parcel Pending commercial lockers for in-office package delivery
- Employee stock options
- Comprehensive parenting consultants
- Travel Planners
- In-house therapists
- Death benefits
These tips range from silly to serious to serviceable, but each is guaranteed to incentivize your workers by enriching the employee/employer relationship.
In-Office Exercise Classes
Long gone are the days of stipends for gym memberships. Bring the exercise to your employees with in-office exercise classes designed to promote team building and wellness through getting your sweat on. Reebok offers this incentive for their employees, but this perk shouldn’t be limited to athletic companies. Yoga, kickboxing, pilates, and running clubs are all great ways to increase stress relief, heart health, social connections, and even productivity.
A decade of research has shown that mental firepower is directly linked to our physical regimen, so it’s not ludicrous to encourage employees to get their heart rate up at work. And best of all, exercise is directly linked to an improved mood which can boost collaboration, creativity, and general success in your office.
Mental Health Services
Employees’ mental health can have an acute impact on the culture of their workplace. The Partnership for Workplace for Mental Health estimates that the U.S. misses out on $44 billion annually in lost productivity due to depression in the workforce. Neglecting mental health can lead to a host of issues including workplace violence, increased workers’ compensation claims, harassment, and discrimination.
Aside from providing health insurance for their physical being, taking care of your employees’ minds is one of the most important work perks you can offer. Being proactive is key: offering full mental health benefits and even staffing company therapists can be a great way to keep workers’ health a priority. Companies now offer 24-hour nurse hotlines and HR consultants who specialize in helping to book and manage appointments at a discounted rate with local providers. What’s good for the health of your employees is good for the health of your business.
Comprehensive New-Parent Perks
While both maternity and paternity leave has become commonplace, workplaces are getting creative when it comes to the wellness of new parents. American Express has one of the most comprehensive new-parent benefits packages, including reimbursement of up to $35,000 for adoption or surrogacy fees, and 24-hour access to a board-certified lactation specialist for nursing parents.
The company even ship employees breastmilk for free when they’re traveling on business. American Express goes well beyond just parental leave and sees these improvements to their policies as being an investment in the well-being of both their employees and their families, and a way to make sure no parent is held back on the corporate ladder by their familial commitments.
In-Office Retail Lockers For Easier Online Shopping
A study conducted by Finder.com concluded that 57 percent of employees shop online during work hours. 140 million people a day will spend up to 1.7 hours browsing for products unrelated to their work, which isn’t surprising considering buying a cute pair of high heels or anticipating the new iPhone release might be a little more fun than actually getting your job done.
Rather than trying to monitor your workers’ online shopping habits, set aside a specific time during the day dedicated to “free browsing.” It might seem counterintuitive but employees with a designated online shopping hour in their work schedules are less likely to partake when they’re not supposed to. And when people inevitably purchase products online, encourage employees to have their shopping delivered securely to a smart retail locker in their office, rather than sitting unattended at home.
Allowing employees to ship to their work address with a retail locker means people are less likely to rush home to receive a package. And with more and more of our shopping done online, having a safe delivery location for everything from groceries to roller-skates makes people feel their employer is looking out for their belongings, and not just their output in the workplace.
Stock Options and Education
Equity compensation programs are an increasingly popular way of putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to employee benefits. When employees invest in company stock options, they’re directly impacted by the growth and success of their employer. Genentech, who ranks 45th on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ List provides a Long Term Incentives program for any employee that works more than 20 hours a week.
In 2014, over 97 percent of the company’s workers received long-term incentive benefits, awarded based on their performance. Most importantly, Genentech also offers financial counseling to make sure that employees understand their stock options and take advantage of them.
Ergonomically Correct Workspaces
It may sound obvious, but a comfortable workspace can mean the difference between a productive, happy worker and someone who dreads sitting down at their desk. There are myriad ways to ensure a healthy, ergonomically correct workspace, and companies have taken any number of creative approaches to their employees’ comfort (circadian lighting or acoustically designed offices, anyone?).
But one of the simplest and most important perks is a well-designed desk. Basecamp’s legendary benefits package includes a state-of-the-art standing desk, mailed to their workers anywhere in the world. These means healthy backs, necks, arms, and wrists during long workdays, with a decreased chance of injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis.
This one may sound dark, but having ‘Death Benefits’ can be an enormous relief for families. Google recently opened up about their employees’ benefits in the afterlife. If a U.S. based Google employee passes away during their tenure at the company, their spouse will receive 50 percent of their salary every year for the next decade.
In addition, children of the deceased will receive $1,000 monthly until the age of 19—23 if they’re a full-time student. While this is one of the most generous ‘Death Benefit’ packages around, it sets a trend in the industry that stretches far beyond keeping an employee happy while they’re alive. There is no benefit to the company for offering this particular perk, other than the safety employees feel knowing their families will be taken care of in the event of a tragedy. And that’s priceless.
There’s a whole world of innovative employee perks out there and this list simply scratches the surface. When putting together a tantalizing employee perks package make sure you’re taking into consideration the size of your company, its individual culture, and your workers’ specific needs. With every perk comes a lasting benefit; it’s just about choosing which ones are right for your workplace. Whether it’s fresh flowers, new technology in the workplace like parcel lockers, breastmilk-delivery services or a chance to give back to their community, your employees will know you have their best interest at heart.
INC. 6 Companies (Including Uber) Where It’s OK to NAP. Sept 5, 2014.
US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The Millennial Generation Research Review. November 12, 2012.
Glassdoor. 4 in 5 Employees Want Benefits or Perks More Than a Pay Raise; Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey (Q3 2015)
HBR. Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job. October 03, 2014.
Research Gate. Exercising at Work and Self-Reported Work Performance. September, 2008.
Society of American Florists. B2B Kit: Talking Points on the Benefits of Flowers & Plants in the Workplace.
Workplace Mental Health Org. Business Case for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment – A Literature Review. 2009.