People are a company’s most valuable assets, and with the current tight labor market, attracting and retaining top talent is more critical than ever.
On average, people switch jobs every four years, so it will take more than a solid salary to keep employees happy. So more and more, workplaces are turning to benefits and perks to compete for employees.
While many benefits are now standard for most full-time career jobs, employers are now offering more perks to gain a new competitive advantage and entice potential employees.
There’s never been a better time to consider switching jobs or careers. If you’re open to a new position, here are the best perks at work to look for at your next appointment.
Standard Perks at Work
The following benefits are now considered standard for full-time career jobs. So, at a minimum, your next job should offer these perks.
Employer-sponsored health insurance is one of the most critical perks at work for many people.
Until recently, the only feasible way for most Americans to afford health coverage was through their employer. However, even with the increase in affordable public healthcare options, it will still be much cheaper through an employer.
Especially for those with children, chronic health conditions, or other dependents, the security of an employer-sponsored health plan is unmatched.
Dental and Vision Insurance
Oral and visual health is vital for your overall wellbeing, but dental and eye exams and related care can be expensive. Thus, dental and vision insurance are also highly desired benefits and are typically included in most benefits packages.
Paid time off (PTO) or vacation days are another standard benefit offered, although the amount of time off or how it is accrued will differ based on the employer.
Many companies will give employees a set amount of PTO or vacation days per year, while others may have employees accrue time off as they work. Typically, the number of days off per year will increase the longer you stay with the company.
Furthermore, some employees can take time off whenever they want, whereas others must have their time off request approved.
Many retirement account options are available to help people save for their golden years, and many are only accessible through employers.
Most private organizations will offer 401(k)’s, and most public employers will offer 403(b) or 457(b) plans. Most government jobs will also provide a pension plan, although younger employees will still likely need to contribute to these pensions.
Life and Ad&D Insurance
Another common benefit offered is life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance. These insurance policies will pay a death benefit upon the insured’s death or if the insured suffers the loss of a limb due to an accident.
While these benefits may not be substantial, they will offer some assistance to those facing the loss of a loved one or an employee that suffered a severe accident. Benefits will vary by the employer, so be sure to understand your benefits package and the amount of insurance your employer offers.
The last of the standard perks at work is sick leave. While the U.S. as a whole does not currently require employers to offer paid sick leave, 16 states now mandate all employers to provide paid sick leave.
Especially in the era of Covid, paid sick leave is an essential benefit so that employees can take time to recover from illness without feeling pressured to return before they are ready and no longer contagious.
Desirable Perks at Work
The following perks at work are highly desirable and are being offered frequently.
Flexible Work Schedule
For many employees, the ability to choose their schedule is unmatched. A flexible schedule could look like a compressed workweek, flextime, hybrid, or remote work. Some companies have also introduced non-consecutive chunks of time for work to allow employees to balance their personal and professional lives better.
Remote or Hybrid Work Schedule
The pandemic made remote work the norm for the past few years, and companies and employees have realized that working from home comes with many benefits. For example, companies save money on office space, and employees save time and money on commuting and other work-related expenses. Plus, remote work has not resulted in a loss of productivity.
While many companies are returning to in-person work, many remain remote or offer hybrid options. Some organizations let employees choose whether they want to stay at home or come into the office.
Many have taken a starter or summer job at a company they like to get an employee discount, but these perks at work can go beyond a percentage off merchandise or services.
Many companies are now partnering with other organizations to offer their employees discounts on various items, from phone plans to electronics to travel.
Paid Parental Leave
Employees want to know that they’ll be taken care of following the birth of a child or adoption of a child. While many employers allow new parents to take a leave and be paid using sick time, an even better perk is paid parental leave. Organizations looking to go a step further to stand out should also offer paternity leave for new fathers. Both parents should have the opportunity to stay home with their children without forfeiting pay regardless of gender.
While most employers offer retirement plans, an employer with a contribution match is even more desirable. Increasingly, employers offer to match retirement contributions up to a certain percentage, which is free money for those taking advantage of this perk.
Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a particular account that you can contribute to for eligible out-of-pocket health care costs. This money is saved pre-tax, which helps reduce your taxable income and ensures you have funds to pay for unexpected medical expenses. Individuals can contribute up to $2,850 a year toward their FSA, but employers’ rollover rules vary.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is also an account used for healthcare expenses not covered by insurance. However, these plans are only available to individuals with a high-deductible healthcare plan, and they are portable so that you can take them from employer to employer. HSAs also have a higher contribution limit of $3,650 for individuals and $7,300 for families.
Retreats and Events
Most companies now offer employee events or retreats in some capacity. These retreats could be as simple as a company bingo night or as extensive as an out-of-town trip. Whatever the level, most organizations will offer an employee-appreciation event during the year.
Epic Perks at Work
The following perks at work are less common, but employers looking to retain top talent in this highly competitive job market should strongly consider adding these epic perks.
Meals at Work
This is a rare perk, but employers willing to offer free food, such as free breakfast, at work may gain an edge, especially for those who require their employees to be in person.
More and more organizations are offering tuition assistance to help their employees advance their lives and careers. Since employers should make it a goal to retain their talent, offering tuition assistance and ongoing training that helps their workforce grow and advance is crucial in accomplishing this goal.
Similar to tuition assistance, some employers may offer travel funds to help employees attend conferences and other learning experiences out of town. Travel funds help put precious experiences within reach and provide your workforce with a great work perk.
Wellness Funds or Programs
The past few years have put the importance of mental health and wellness squarely at the forefront. A happy and healthy workforce is a productive one, and more than ever, employers are investing in the well-being of their employees.
Wellness funds and programs, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), are an excellent perk to offer employees for employers to show that they care more than just about the bottom line. These programs or funds could cover counseling, gym memberships or discounts, self-care, or other items to improve wellness. Some companies go as far as to offer complete wellness initiatives to help shift workplace culture and enhance the workforce’s overall health.
Home Office Stipend
Companies that offer remote or hybrid work are already a cut above, but those looking to stand out should also consider offering a home office stipend. The shift from in-person to remote work is relatively recent, so many employees may not be adequately prepared to work from home. A home office stipend takes the burden of setting up a productive workspace off the employee so that they can purchase what they need to complete their job.
Remember group projects in school? The ones where you did most of the work but received the same grade as your less-motivated classmates? Unfortunately, the same feeling can creep into your career if you’re someone who consistently goes above and beyond, yet your salary remains the same as your co-workers.
In these cases, performance bonuses are a great way to reward employees who go the extra mile. While many organizations give annual evaluations and may offer raises based on them, performance bonuses will let your workforce know that their hard work is being noticed and rewarded.
Professional Growth Plan
It’s now rare for an individual to stay with the same company for the entirety of their career. This shift has resulted in a focus on a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties. At least, that’s how many organizations are now seeing their relationship with their workforce.
Many companies are helping to assist employee growth through professional growth plans. Also called employee development plans, they help employees identify personal and professional goals and a pathway to achieving them.
Especially in a world where switching jobs every 3-5 years is the norm, helping employees with professional and personal development is a great way to provide that mutually beneficial relationship that people are looking for in an employer.
Physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can be hard to fit the gym into a busy workday. Gym membership discounts may be provided as part of a wellness or employee discount program, but those employers looking to stand out should consider covering the cost of a gym membership for their workforce. Some organizations even go so far as to offer their own onsite gym space.
Stock Options or Equity
Company stock or equity is another of the great perks at work that can build a stronger relationship between employer and employee. Having ownership in the company helps instill ownership in the success of the business and a reward system for going the extra mile. Studies have also shown that employees with stock or equity enjoy benefits beyond ownership.
A considerable barrier to career advancement and wealth-building is childcare, which costs parents an average of more than $1,000 a month. That’s why employers willing to subsidize childcare for their workforce with kids will be a cut above for working parents looking for a job change. Some employers are now going a step further and offering on-site childcare for their employees as an added benefit.
The average commute to work is 30 minutes, while those who take public transportation can expect to double their commuting time. This means that Americans spend an hour a day on average in the car and around two hours a day commuting using public means.
For those employers requiring an in-person workforce, commuter assistance will go a long way in attracting talent. Whether it’s a public transportation subsidy, a company vehicle, or a commuting stipend, helping employees with commuting costs is a great way to soften the blow of a long commute.
A sabbatical is an extended time away from work during which an employee may rest, learn new skills, travel, spend time with family, or work on a project of their choice (such as writing a book).
Many places offer employee sabbaticals, but it’s less common to find an employer who will continue to pay their workforce while on sabbatical. Paid sabbaticals are an excellent way to reward employees for their work and help avoid burnout.
Perks at Work: Final Thoughts
If you’re an employer hoping to find and retain top talent, it’s essential to extend the benefits of your organization beyond a good salary.
In this tight job market, potential employees are looking for companies that stand out, and improving your perks at work is the best way to do that. So aside from the standard benefits, consider offering highly desirable and epic perks at work to show potential employees that you’re serious about their professional and personal well-being.
Employees are the backbone of an organization and more than a bottom line. A happy and healthy workforce is the most crucial asset to the success of any business.
Where does your organization stand?