In today’s incredibly competitive hiring market, employee perks programs can be a key way for companies to differentiate themselves to attract and retain top talent. In fact, Glassdoor found that nearly 60% of professionals report a company's benefits and perks package as a major factor in considering whether to accept or decline a job offer.

What may surprise you even more is that four in five employees prefer benefits or perks to a pay raise… but only if they’re the right employee perks. So, how can you create an employee perks programs that actually aligns with what your staff is looking for?

Employee preferences are constantly evolving, so first, you need to simply be aware of what the most in-demand employee perks for modern professionals are right now!

What Are Employee Perks?

Employee perks are privileges granted to employees in addition to their salaries and benefits that have little to no cash value. For example, health insurance and 401(k) matching are benefits because they have a monetary value, while something like “casual Fridays” would be considered a perk.

What Are the Best Employee Perks?

Employee perks programs will be different from one company to another. There’s no perfect combination or one-size-fits-all package that will satisfy every single employee—but there are a few in-demand employee perks you should be aware of if you want a more satisfied, engaged, and loyal staff!

Employee Perk #1: Remote Work Policies

The rise of remote work policies is one of the biggest trends in the modern workforce. In fact, a whopping 99% of respondents in a Buffer study claimed they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. Whether you allow your employees to work remotely full-time, one day a week, or a few times each month, there are many benefits for both of you. In fact, employees who work from home at least once a month are 24% more likely to feel happy and productive at work than those who never do.

Beyond just increased productivity, you’ll also see many other benefits, including higher retention rates, reduced overhead expenses, and access to a wider pool of talent. Your employees will be able to experience reduced travel time, a more flexible working schedule, the ability to choose the working environment that is best for them, and money savings. These huge advantages will make your staff happier, more engaged, and loyal to your company long-term. 

Employee Perk #2: Flexible Working Schedules 

The days where employees were tethered to their desks from 9 am to 5 pm are long gone. Modern employees crave a strong work-life balance that allows them the freedom and flexibility to do things like go out to lunch, leave a little early to pick up their kids, or attend a school event in the middle of the workday.

No matter the industry, flexibility is incredibly important: 51% of employees in a survey say they wish their company offered more flexible work options. Allowing a more flexible working schedule is an employee perk that will really make your employees happy while costing you essentially nothing to offer. Just be sure that you have policies in place that clearly outline when it is mandatory to be in the office, and keep up with performance metrics to ensure your employees are still able to get their work done and meet goals and deadlines.

Employee Perk #3: Providing Efficient Devices

Your employees need access to powerful, efficient devices and tools in order to complete their job tasks quickly and effectively, and providing them with these devices is a valuable employee perk. When your employees don’t have to purchase work devices on their own dime, it can alleviate some financial stress and prevent employee morale problems—such as one employee getting upset because they weren’t able to afford the latest and greatest device that another employee could. 

By giving your employees access to the devices and tools they need to do their jobs, they will also be more productive, therefore generating more revenue for your business. Plus, when everyone is using the same platforms and devices (for example, using the Microsoft Suite of hardware and software including Surface devices, Office 365, and Microsoft Teams), you can keep all the apps, files, and communications you need to do business compatible, streamlined, and organized. This is more ideal than leaving your staff to acquire their own devices, which could result in one employee using G-Suite on an Apple Device while another uses a Samsung tablet and another uses a PC with Office 365, for example. 

Employee Perk #4: Paid Family Leave

In response to evolving employee demands, a number of large companies have enhanced their paid parental leave programs in the last year, from Walmart to TD Bank. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 Employee Benefits report, employers offering paid parental leave increased significantly over the last few years. Furthermore, more and more companies are offering paid parental leave policies for every type of parental leave, not just traditional maternal and paternal leave.

Between 2016 and 2018, the percentage of employers offering paid maternity leave increased from 26% to 35% in 2018—with paid paternity leave increasing from 21% to 29%. In that same time, parental leave also increased for new parents that have adopted (20% to 28%), taken in a foster child (13% to 21%), or had a child via surrogate (6% to 12%). 

Employee Perk #5: Paid Vacation Time

In a Harvard Business Review survey of 2,000 U.S. workers, 80% of respondents said more vacation time was an appealing perk. Furthermore, over two-thirds said they would consider a lower-paying job over a higher-paying one if it came with unlimited vacation. While offering unlimited paid time-off may sound scary, it can actually be a win-win for both employers and employees.

Offering unlimited paid vacation time shows your employees that you trust them to be responsible and manage their workload, regardless of how many days they take off. Plus, the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that only 1%–2% of companies currently offer an unlimited time-off policy. So, by offering this incredibly in-demand employee perk, you can differentiate your company from the competition and make yourself more attractive to job seekers.

Employee Perk #6: Opportunities for Professional Development 

The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 Employee Benefits report found that 86% of employees claim opportunities for professional and career development were important to their overall job satisfaction. The most common professional development benefit perk currently offered by employers is paying for professional memberships.

Employers can also offer onsite and offsite training opportunities, develop mentor programs, and cover certification/recertification fees and/or professional license application/renewal fees. Plus, in our technology-driven age, there are many webinars, podcasts, training modules, and digital certifications that can be completed online for little to no cost. Passing these resources on to your employees shows you care about their growth, meaning they’ll be happier and more engaged at work. Plus, by giving your employees the opportunity to learn new skills, you’ll reap the benefits when they apply those skills at your company!

Employee Perk #7: Company Wellness Programs

Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends survey found that one in two employees would like to see a greater focus on overall well-being at their company. Investing in a company wellness program is a great decision because it will benefit everyone. Regular exercise improves mood and morale, meaning your employees will be happier and more productive. It can also help people avoid many chronic health conditions, meaning your employees will take fewer sick days and you'll have lower health insurance costs.

So, how can you show your employees you care about their mental and physical health? More than a third of employees say a company-paid gym membership or access to an onsite fitness center is on their employer wish list. You can also offer free onsite health screenings or lunch and learn sessions on various wellness topics, invest in standing desks, bring a fitness instructor into the office for a monthly class, or create a space in the office dedicated to meditation. 

Employee Perk #8: Financial Planning Services

According to a 2017 PWC survey, 53% of all employees are stressed about their finances—leading nearly one in three employees to say finances have been a distraction at work. How can you help as their employer? By offering financial planning services as an employee perk!

Some ideas for doing so include compiling financial resources (such as informational pamphlets, webinars, or podcasts) to pass along to your employees or having a financial advisor come into the office to host a lunch and learn or Q&A session. By providing financial planning services, you can help lessen the stress on your employees—giving them more peace of mind about their financial future so they can focus on the present and be more productive at work. 

Employee Perk #9: Pet Perks 

People certainly love their furry friends—so much so that pet insurance has become a more popular voluntary employee benefit over the past few years. Data shows that pet ownership reduces stress levels, the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, meaning employees with pets tend to be happier and healthier employees. When they don’t have to worry about taking on the full costs of their pet’s medical bills, they’ll be even happier!

Additionally, 15% of employees say they would like to work in a pet-friendly office. While this may sound distracting, it actually has the opposite effect—studies have shown that pet-friendly workplaces actually see higher engagement. If you aren’t willing or able to have a pet-friendly office all the time, consider implementing something like a “Pet Day” where everyone is allowed to bring in their pets one Friday each month.

Employee Perk #10: Free Food and Snacks 

Who doesn’t love free food? Surveys showed that 32% of employees say they’d appreciate free snacks and 30% said they’d appreciate free coffee in the office. Providing free food and snacks in the office can help boost morale and give your employees fuel to be productive throughout the day.

While some companies go all out and have a fully-stocked kitchen or on-site vending machines, there are still ways you can provide this employee perk for a lower cost. Keeping a small snack area stocked and providing a coffee pot and grounds isn't super expensive and will go a long way with your employees. You could also consider hosting a monthly or quarterly catered lunch in the office, which can also serve as a social event that improves morale and fosters relationships amongst team members.

At the end of the day, the companies with the best employee perks are the ones that offer the perks their staff actually cares about. If you aren’t sure where to start or what your employees want, you could send out a survey so they can rank the list of benefits you’re considering offering by importance.

If you’re already offering or thinking about offering remote work policies or allowing a more flexible working schedule, Protected Trust can help by providing the hardware and software you need to ensure your employees can get the job done from any location. If you’re ready to learn more and transform your organization into a truly modern workplace, reach out to a PT expert today!

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