Organizational Wellness

Perks that Work: 10 Employee Perks to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Dec 27, 2022
Last Updated Jun 2, 2023

Why do people work? 

Obviously people work because they need money. And given that 2022 looks to be a record year for inflation (at ~6.1%), you don’t want to overlook the importance of offering a good paycheck when recruiting valuable talent. But the truth is that money isn’t always the deciding factor for candidates who are entertaining multiple job offers, and it’s also not something you can rely on to ensure that your best people stick around. 

Studies have shown that money isn’t the motivator it’s cracked up to be. And although a nice raise or an unexpected bonus can certainly make someone’s day, it’s naive to think that a 15% increase in salary will automatically lead to a 15% increase in productivity or morale. Instead, workplace culture often plays a larger role, with 56% of workers valuing strong culture over salary.

Money, meaning, culture, benefits…there are a lot of different elements for employees to consider. But one that can make a major difference often gets overlooked: employee perks.

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What Are Employee Perks?

At their most basic, employee perks are additional, non-monetary incentives given to employees by the organization to attract, retain, or further motivate the workforce. We’re not talking about raises or cash bonuses, and we’re not talking about anything that exists contractually as part of the employees’ salary. Employee perks are all about being extra. These may include special offers or discounts, employee programs, additional comforts for the office, or just about anything else that can make a job more attractive. 

Wait, does that make it sound like perks are the same as benefits? Well they’re not.

Employee Perks vs. Employee Benefits

Employee perks and employee benefits are two different things. Benefits, although they may seem to be non-monetary and separate from salary compensation, are actually tied directly to it. Employee benefits account for necessary expenses that employees would need to cover with their income, such as different forms of health insurance and retirement plans. As such, they’re included as part of the employees’ salaries
 

Benefits aren’t extra rewards; they’re the definition of fundamental. So much so in fact that the US government has established minimum benefits requirements that organizations have to offer if they don’t want to run afoul of the law. If you skimp on these, you won’t have to worry about attracting or retaining talent — or any other business concerns, for that matter. 

Unlike employee benefits, job perks are the ‘nice to haves,’ the ‘cherries on top.’ But let’s not trivialize them; correctly applied, the right perks can make all the difference.

 

Why Are Employee Perks Important?

Why would having nice things for employees be nice for employers? Do we really need to get into it? Fine. But let’s make it quick:

  • Perks increase employee retention.
  • They improve recruitment and talent acquisition.
  • They inspire employee engagement.
  • And as a result, they improve your business

Good? We clear? Fantastic. Then let’s get to the meat of it: the kinds of company perks the best employees and candidates are looking for.

 

10 Tantalizing Employee Perks

Want to excite and entice the best people? Consider these ten perks for work:

  1. Gym Membership Reimbursement

Did you know that 36% of employees don’t believe that their employers are committed to their wellbeing? You can break that mold by demonstrating just how much you value your employees’ health and happiness by offering gym membership reimbursement. Many employees fail to exercise regularly simply because they don’t have a place to do so (and they don’t have the disposable income to pay for it). Offering reimbursement for gym membership comes with other advantages as well — did someone say tax write-off

  1. Remote Work Flexibility

The pandemic changed a lot about work, but one major disruption was something that employees found they could get used to: working remotely. In fact, 35% of today’s employees say the lack of remote work options is a deal breaker. Of course, not every business can function optimally with its entire workforce spread across the globe. Hybrid models offer a best-of-both-worlds solution, and can be an impressive perk for those who prefer to work in their own space. 

  1. Health Tracker Devices

‘Health’ is a major theme on this list. There’s a reason for that (and it’s not because Gympass exists to promote improved employee health and wellbeing… or rather it’s not only because of that). A significant 79% of employees are more concerned about their health today than ever before. That concern should be shared by their employers; 75% of medical costs accrued by employers are due to preventable conditions, and poor employee health costs US employers ~$530 billion annually in lost productivity. Giving employees free health trackers is a simple way to show your people you have their best interests at heart. 

  1. Charity options

Remember when we said that employees want to know that their work is meaningful? Well, even if every job isn’t a beacon of altruism, your employees can still feel good about the organization they work for through company-backed charity options. This can be as basic as giving employees time off to volunteer for a cause they are passionate about, or it may be more financially involved through charity matching programs. Just make sure that your people know what kinds of programs you offer; 78% of match-eligible donors don’t know if their company offers a charity matching program. 

  1. Office Improvements

If you expect your employees to spend roughly one third of every day in the office, then it’s only decent to try to make that space as engaging as possible. What are we talking about here? We’re talking about making the leap from functional to fun-ctional by dedicating areas of the office towards non-work pursuits. Game rooms, nap areas, isolation space — if you can dream it and you don’t expect your people to use it as another meeting room, it can help you improve the employee experience

  1. Upskilling Opportunities

Most employees don’t like to look at employment opportunities as final destinations. They want to continue to grow their skill sets and increase their professional value. In fact, Pew Research reports that 63% of those who quit their jobs in 2021 did so because there weren’t any clear opportunities for advancement. Don’t let your people stagnate; provide educational opportunities to build the skills that will help them take themselves further. And this can go beyond in-office trainings and seminars; consider providing financial assistance for those workers who want to go back to school. 

  1. Healthy Food Options

Snacks have long been a staple of “cool” break rooms. But the old adage “You are what you eat” still applies to office employees, and if you feed your people garbage, then like garbage is how they’re going to feel. On the other hand, if you want to give your workforce some additional nutrition to help keep them engaged, go for wholesome over toothsome. After all, what we eat affects how we work…and it also impacts how we feel about our place of work. 

  1. Flexibility in Scheduling

Working from home is a pretty big deal, and 87% of workers will take the remote-work option when it’s presented to them, but sometimes it’s less about where you work and more about when. Unless your workforce needs to be available at very specific times to meet customer needs, why not allow your employees to work the hours they choose? In 2021 Gartner reported that 43% of survey respondents noted that flexible working hours helped them achieve more productivity. By offering increased scheduling flexibility, you’ll be attracting and retaining motivated talent that recognizes that results are more important than attendance. 

  1. New Parent Support

There are few things more important to most employees than their careers… and a new baby is one of those things. Family will (and rightly should be) the highest priority, and if you don’t step up to help new parents manage their new lives, then they’ll step out. Surveys show that 23% of employees have considered leaving a job due to child-care issues. Paid parental leave is a good place to start, but if you want to stand out to employees who are interested in starting a family, you need to go further: child-care stipends, emergency daycare options, family coaching, and more. 

  1. Wellness Programs

Remember back in point #1 where we suggested reimbursing employees for gym memberships? Well, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Wellness programs combat the negative effects of workplace stress while helping promote positive employee health habits. Awesome. But is this the kind of stuff that matters to your current and prospective workforce? In a word: yes. A majority of 52.5% of employees have considered changing careers in pursuit of better work-life wellness.

 

Conclusion

Why do people work? To earn money, support themselves and their loved ones, and make a difference in the world. But when those particular needs are filled, it’s the additional perks that keep them interested. The ten employee perks listed above are only a taste of what you could be offering your workforce; employee surveys can help you get honest insights into what drives the people who drive your business.

Ready to get started? Talk to a Gympass wellbeing specialist today! 

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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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