Organizational Wellness

101 Unique Employee Benefit Ideas to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Feb 9, 2020
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

Private chefs. Pet insurance. Fully paid sabbatical years. When it comes to employee benefits and perks, companies are pulling out all the stops—and with good reason.  Wellbeing benefits are the second-most important factor to employees considering a role (after salary), and about three out of four employees believe that employers have a responsibility to address the health and wellbeing of their employees. 

It’s no surprise, then, that nearly one-fifth of HR professionals alter their benefits programs to retain employees. This is especially salient as businesses look to optimize their benefits packages for the new world of work — whether that’s drawing employees into the office with pickleball courts or allowing remote workers to pick their online hours. 

In this era of flex work, there’s no one size fits all answer. What does work across the board is an underlying strategy focused on holistic wellness, which aims to support the whole person, including:

  • Flexibility
  • Financial
  • Familial 
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Social

The good news for HR leaders is that each benefit in a total wellness program is an opportunity to improve the lives of your teammates! We’ve come up with 101 ideas for employee benefits and perks to help you take care of a diverse, multigenerational workforce — in and out of the office. 

Flexible Wellness Benefits

Nobody can say exactly what the future of work holds, but we’re all confident it won’t be nine to five, five days a week in the office. Over half of U.S. employees say they can work remotely at least part time, and 87% of workers do so when given the choice, according to recent McKinsey research. The following flexible work policies help employees be productive where and when they want.

  1. No Official Work Hours

Much like unlimited PTO, if your company believes in just “getting the work done,” you don’t need to instate official work hours. Some people want to sleep in, while others want to burn the midnight oil. Some may even want to work from halfway across the world. Giving employers the freedom to work when they’re most productive will reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

  1. Remote Work Program

One employee wants to spend a year in Sri Lanka while another dreams of the space they’d have if they moved out of the city. Why stop them as long as they’re still working for you? A smart remote work program can keep everyone happy.

  1. 4-Day Work Week

Employees with a 4-day work week are less likely to burn out and more likely to stay at their job, according to a study that had dozens of companies try a 4-day work week. And it’s not just employees that win here: 96% of companies at the end of the trial decided to continue with a 4-day work week due to its benefits, and other research shows the setup can boost worker productivity by 40%

  1. Agile Fridays

Everyone knows that Friday is the best day of the week. Work from home Fridays can mean and having less meetings can mean time to focus on complex projects, prepare reports, or get the next week squared away. 

  1. Paid Sabbaticals

Employee burnout is real. If you want to retain employees, sometimes you need to let them spend some time discovering their passions by teaching yoga, volunteering abroad, or learning how to make wine. Sabbaticals are shown to decrease stress and increase life satisfaction

  1. Summer Fridays

When summer comes, employees will want to get outside and enjoy the nice weather. Let them! Half-day Fridays throughout the summer is something everyone can look forward to. 

  1. Birthday PTO

Getting a cake in the office on your birthday is nice. Spending the day doing whatever you want and getting paid for it is even better. Birthday PTO is an invaluable perk that shows your employees how much they’re appreciated.

  1. Volunteering PTO

Your employees are busy. Maybe they want to volunteer, but just can’t find the time. Providing special PTO for charity work can give them the time (and incentive) to do good. 

  1. Unlimited PTO

More and more companies now provide unlimited vacation time. Focusing on getting work done efficiently—rather than being at the office when there’s nothing to do—can have a powerful effect on your employees’ focus, productivity, and overall well-being. 

Financial Wellness Benefits

Even your most enthusiastic, mission-driven employees have to pay the bills. Offering benefits (beyond salary) that help them thrive financially removes stress so they can keep their passion alive.

  1. 401(k) Matching

Your employees make contributions to their 401(k)s. You match them (up to a certain percentage), and their contributions are doubled. It’s just that simple. 

  1. Student Loan Repayment Plans

The average student loan debt in 2019 was $31,172 (not to mention the cost of the stress that comes with debt). You could make a real difference in their lives by setting up a student loan repayment program. 

  1. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

FSAs allow employees to put part of their salaries towards medical costs for their families, providing significant tax advantages.

  1. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

If your employees’ health insurance plans have high deductibles, HSAs let them save for qualified medical expenses in a tax-advantaged account. 

  1. HSA employer match contribution

Similar to a traditional HSA, but you match your employees’ contributions (up to a certain amount).

  1. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)

An HRA is an agreement between an employer and their employees to reimburse workers for qualified medical expenses. This is funded by the employer, unlike an HSA, making it another tool employers can use to reduce an employee’s financial healthcare burden.

  1. Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs)

Lifestyle spending accounts are non-salary funds employers can provide workers for expenses not traditionally covered by other spending accounts. Employers put a predetermined amount in the account and designate its purpose: health and wellness, student debt, professional training, family support, etc. Employees can use those funds for anything they need in that spending category.

  1. Discounts on Travel + Ridesharing

More than three-quarters of employees drive to work alone. Commuting can come with significant stress—take some of the financial pressure off your employees’ commutes and help build comradery by organizing a rideshare program. 

  1. Phone Service Stipends

Cell phones are now as necessary as heat and electricity. You can issue a cell phone stipend along with your normal payroll to help employees cover this necessary cost. 

  1. Tuition Reimbursement

Invest in your employees by giving them a chance to get a formal education (like an MBA). Oftentimes, this benefit includes a contract requiring the employee to stay with their company for a certain number of years after graduating. 

  1. Professional Development Fund

Set aside a quota for continued education through approved development opportunities.  

  1. Pet Insurance

People love their pets—but pets can get expensive. Pet insurance means Fluffy can stay healthy and happy (and Fluffy’s owner can, too).

  1. Restaurant Vouchers

This is a great reward for small successes in the office (especially if it’s a new, trendy eatery everyone’s been dying to try), and to offset the cost of having lunch at the office. 

  1. Employee Prize Catalog

An employee prize catalog offers unique bonuses, which can be anything from PTO, experiences, or prizes, based on their performance.

  1. Employee Referral Program

Streamline recruiting by incentivizing your employees to refer top talent to your organization. 

  1. Financial Literacy Program

Help employees and their families meet their financial goals, whether it’s saving up for a new car or paying their child’s college tuition, with a financial literacy program like Goalsetter.   

  1. Employee Rewards Program

In addition to more traditional wellness benefits, employee rewards programs like Staff Treats help employees save on things like technology, groceries, and clothing. 

  1. Technology Reimbursement

Top-of-the-line laptop computer. Multiple monitors. High-speed internet connection. Purchasing tech for on-the-road and at-home work use can be a significant personal expense. Tech reimbursement can be a great add-on.

  1. Investment Programs

Help employees build equity with smart investment programs. Computershare, for instance, is a fractional ownership program that lets employees buy “pieces” of otherwise high-value shares that they wouldn’t have access to.

  1. Gas Reimbursement

In the U.S., the average commute is 26.1 minutes. Factor that in twice a day, and that’s a lot of gas (and a lot of money out of pocket) used to get to work. Gas reimbursement programs can mitigate the financial and psychological stress of commuting. 

  1. Complimentary Company Parking Space

The worst part of driving (especially in a city)? It’s the parking. It’s usually expensive, inconvenient, and time-consuming. Complimentary parking means all those troubles go away.   

  1. Home Buying Assistance

On the list of significant adult milestones, few are bigger than buying your first home. Being the company that supports their employees in doing this? That’s sure to earn you points.

  1. Retirement Planning

For some, retirement is a long way off. For others, it’s right around the corner. Whatever the situation, you don’t want to go into retirement with uncertainty. Planning can help you go in with a smart, sustainable strategy.   

Family Wellness Benefits

It takes a village to raise a child — and to care for an aging parent, and make sure the dog is walked every day, and to support chosen family members if they fall ill. Be a valued member of your employee’s village by offering benefits that make it easier to integrate career and caregiving responsibilities.

  1. Paid Parental Leave

The birth, adoption or fostering of a new child is a major life event, and your employees will need time to adjust. Offering paid leave makes it easier for parents to take advantage of this benefit, and research shows a multitude of benefits to the entire family when mothers and fathers alike take parental leave.

  1. Diapers + Wipes Subscription

A new baby can use up to 2,700 diapers in a year, coming in at about $550. And that’s just diapers. Such a subscription can help wipe away those financial worries.

  1. Childcare Reimbursement

It’s a tough choice for many parents: Do I stay home with the kids, or do I work and leave them at a daycare? Childcare reimbursement can help give your employees the peace of mind that their children are cared for while they’re at the office.

  1. Eldercare Services

Families with elderly parents and relatives often face limited, highly expensive options for live-in care.  Removing the financial burden from this decision can help make for an easier transition, and for your employees to be confident their older family members are well cared for when they are at work.

  1. Child Care and Education Stipends

Parents typically spend a lot of their salary on their children’s care and education. A stipend means a little less financial weight on your employee’s back.

  1. Designated Parking for Pregnant Employees 

Pregnant brings a laundry list of new issues to deal with, among them: walking places. Reserving a parking spot to the office entrance for those who are expecting is a small gesture that can feel like a grand kindness.

  1. “Fur-ternity” Leave

Employee has a new kitten or puppy? It’s a lot in the beginning. There’s pet-proofing, house training, and of course, time to get to know one another. Fur-ternity leave can give employees up to a week off to get everything situated for their new furry friend. 

  1. Summer Camp for Employees’ Children

When summer vacation starts, parents are often left scrambling for childcare. Offering a summer camp means one less thing for them to worry about.

  1. On-Site Daycare

Summer isn’t the only time employees have to think about childcare — there’s the gap between when work and school ends, or the years before a child is old enough to enroll. And, while providing funds for childcare is wonderful, having childcare at the office means your employees are physically that much closer to their children. 

  1. Egg Freezing

More women are choosing to delay motherhood to focus on their career, but they don’t want to forego parenthood entirely. Egg freezing empowers female employees to better juggle both their career and family ambitions.

  1. In Vitro Fertility Treatment Coverage

For employees who want children but are having trouble conceiving, in vitro fertility is a great option… if they can afford it. Fertility treatments can cost upwards of $15,000. Offering coverage for this treatment can mean the world to your employees.

  1. New Baby Fund

Your employee had a new baby? Congrats! But as any parent can tell you, that bundle of joy isn’t cheap. Providing employees with additional funds helps them welcome this new life into the world with a little less stress.

  1. Breastfeeding Rooms with Hospital-Grade Pumps

Pumping breast milk (especially at work) is taxing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed for two years,  a recent change that doubled its previous one-year benchmark – but little more than half of American babies are still breastfed at six months. A proper breastfeeding room gives new mothers both the equipment and privacy they need.

  1. Adoption Assistance

The adoption process can take over a year. It’s filled with complicated paperwork, intense interviews, and certain frustrations. Adoptive assistance can help aspiring parents to navigate this sometimes difficult process. 

  1. Free Travel Companion for New Moms

New moms need backup everywhere they can get it, especially when breastfeeding. This could be a relative, a nanny, or any person accompanying a new mom and her baby on a business trip. 

  1. Complimentary Breastmilk Shipping

This complimentary service lets women send their breast milk home for free.  

  1. On-Ramping Programs for Parents Re-Entering the Workforce

Going from full-time baby duty back to full time-employee isn’t always the smoothest transition. Give returning parents a hand with an on-ramping program.

Physical Wellness Benefits

Staying physically active benefits workers and their employers. Employees enjoy better health in every aspect of their life, and at work have 31% higher rates of productivity. Here are ways to help your staff get up and move.

  1. Fitness Classes

Active employees are engaged employees. By providing employees with affordable, flexible fitness options, they’ll be happier and healthier. Gympass offers a network of over 50,000 fitness facilities in 14 countries around the world.

  1. Free Exercise Swag

Equip your employees with the tools they need to stay active, like water bottles, resistance bands or yoga mats. 

  1. Wellness Reimbursement

Reimburse your employees for achieving certain wellness goals, like taking 10,000 steps a day or checking in at the gym three times a week.

  1. Gym Subscriptions

Providing your employees with subscriptions to fitness centers gives them the opportunity to work out at their convenience.

  1. On-Site Health and Wellness Facilities

Need to speak with a therapist about some problems going on at home? Or a nurse to check if that cut really is infected? On-site health and wellness facilities help employees save time and money, setting them up for success in the workplace. 

  1. Free Flu Shots

Free flu shots keep everyone healthy, protecting participating employees as well as their families and co-workers. 

  1. Treadmill Desks

Some people just can’t sit still. Treadmill desks can do wonders for stress and productivity. Rather than sitting in a chair for hours on end, your employees can hop on a treadmill and get moving.    

  1. Fitness Reimbursement Plan

Hit fitness goals, get rewarded. Thanks to technology like FitBit, companies are giving employees incentives for staying healthy, from putting in time at the gym or the park to meeting daily step count goals. 

  1. Screen Protectors or Blue Light Glasses 

Your employees’ vision is a valuable commodity—both for you and for them. Extended exposure to blue light from staring at screens can lead to vision problems, migraines, and a slew of other issues. A screen protector or pair of blue light glasses is a quick and easy fix to mitigate eye strain. 

  1. Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits

One of the key aspects of a successful health benefits program is inclusivity. Employees who are transgender may have medical costs that aren’t covered by some insurance companies. Offering health plans with transgender-inclusive benefits can help reduce the cost and stress of going to the doctor.

  1. Gender-Reassignment Assistance

Gender reassignment process is a complex journey. As an employer, you can make it easier by offering access to financial, legal, medical, and emotional support.

  1. Unlimited Sick Days

Nobody enjoys rationing sick days. Limiting an employee’s allotted sick days can lead to all sorts of problems, from using vacation time to cover illness to getting the entire office sick because an employee has no sick days left. An unlimited sick day policy makes employees feel respected, comfortable, and trusted with their time. 

  1. Vouchers for Massages, Osteopath and Chiropractor Appointments

Half of all American employees complain about back pain. Imagine how thankful they would be for a voucher for any of the above. 

  1. Biometric Screening

Taking your employees’ biometric measurements, such as blood pressure, height, weight, and cholesterol, can help them be aware and take control of their overall health. 

  1. Cycle-to-Work Program

Why not give your employees benefits for using their legs to get to work? Employees reduce their carbon footprint, get a workout, and receive a reward. It’s a win-win-win! 

Emotional Wellness Benefits

Our mental state impacts everything we do, and it relies on so many factors — getting enough rest, feeling purpose, spending time with loved ones, having a sense of security. Supporting your employee’s mental health is vital to facilitating holistic wellness.

  1. Paid Bereavement Leave

Losing a loved one takes a severe emotional toll, and often comes with massive financial implications. Having enough time to mourn without the stress of missing paychecks welcome kindness in a tough time. To best support your diverse workforce, offer bereavement leave without limiting its use to only when somebody loses an immediate family member. Important relationships are not limited by blood, and employees are likely to appreciate being able to take the time they need to process the loss of whoever is special to them.

  1. Mental Health Workshops

Forty percent of employees find their jobs extremely stressful, and one-quarter said work was the single biggest source of stress in their lives. Interactive workshops can help everyone find healthier ways of achieving work-life balance.

  1. Teletherapy Subscriptions

Did you know organizations can partner with companies like BetterHelp to provide their employees with therapy access? Mental health apps allow your employees to take control of their well-being with accessible options like texting and video chatting with licensed therapists. These kinds of interactions can be game-changing, especially in light of rising depression rates.

  1. Mindfulness Apps/Facilities

Stress is a powerful force in offices. A subscription to a meditation app (coupled with an office meditation room) can show a commitment to positive employee mindfulness.

  1. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

EAPs do not fall neatly into one box—they can help with a wide range of problems, from psychological disorders and substance abuse to stress and emotional well-being. EAPs can help employees with everything from short-term counseling to establishing strategies for long-term wellness treatments.

  1. Sleep Pods

Consider this: a 40-minute nap can boost job performance by 34%. Who wouldn’t benefit from a quick power nap after lunch? Sleep pods are a valuable investment for both companies and their employees.

  1. Mental Health Days

Companies often give employees a set number of physical sick days, but what about mental health days? Mental health is just as important as physical health, and should be treated as such.

  1. “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” Allowance

Ever hear the expression, “Do one thing every day that scares you”? You could give your employees a budget to try just that. (Maybe not daily, but at least once a quarter.)

  1. Travel Benefits

Show your employees you want them to get out and take that European vacation by giving them travel benefits, or offering them an annual budget to go out and see the world.

  1. Military Leave

Military leave is about more than just securing their job, it’s about knowing they can return to the life they’re putting on hold to serve.

  1. Sensory Support Stipends

Reimbursing employees for purchases that mediate their sensory input, like noise canceling headphones or replacing fluorescent bulbs, can reduce the stress of workers whose senses are easily overwhelmed

 Social Wellness Benefits

People are social creatures, so feeling connected to those around us is an essential part of personal wellbeing. Finding ways for your employees to connect with each other and the community around them will strengthen any holistic wellbeing initiative.

  1. Culture Pass

Art. Music. Theater. Literature. Dance. Give your employees free admission to some of the best cultural experiences in town. 

  1. Movie Night

Sometimes, everyone needs to unwind with a good film and some movie theater popcorn. Up the appeal by adding decorations and prizes tied to the movie you’re showing. 

  1. Company Book Club

A great way to promote learning, communication, and team-building. Earn higher engagement by putting aside an hour of work time each month to discuss the current book. 

  1. In-House Mentorship Program

All employees (but especially young and new employees, in particular) can benefit from having a guide to help navigate their professional landscape.

  1. Paid Industry Certifications

Paid industry certifications are an absolute win-win. Employees earn proof of new skills and employers build a more accredited team. 

  1. Unconscious Bias + Diversity Training

We all need to be respectful to one another. Classes can help your employees gain valuable insights into both their conscious and unconscious behavior. 

  1. College Coach Program

Help employees navigate their college admissions and financial aid process for themselves or their children by giving them access to a College Coach program.

  1. DEI Training

Kindness and understanding is critical in the workplace. Education and awareness about the lived experiences and needs of employees with different identities — whether that’s LGBTQ+, disabled, Black, etc. — can help foster acceptance and inclusivity.

  1. Affinity Groups

Also known as employee resource groups, these allow workers with a shared identity to connect with each other and improve workplace inclusivity and culture. These groups can help employees bring their whole selves to work, strengthening their social ties within the organization. 

  1. In-Office Volunteer Opportunities

There are a myriad of ways employees can volunteer from the office, whether that’s offering services pro bono, implementing a mentoring program or leading virtual classes. 

  1. Out-Of-Office Volunteer Opportunities

Partnering with local volunteer groups to set up a staff volunteer day is a great way to build a sense of community with other departments and their neighbors. 

  1. Team Activities

Whether it’s a weekly bowling league or a summer softball team, providing ways for people to be involved in non-work team activities helps them connect with coworkers on a personal level. 

  1. Lunchtime Speaker Sessions

Everyone’s got to eat. Why not provide a catered lunch with some inspiration or thought leadership? It’s a fantastic way to keep employees engaged (and ensuring they take a mid-day break).

  1. Traveling Briefcase Program

A perk for top-performing employees: You provide airfare and accommodations for an employee and one guest to visit another company office to provide their expertise there for a week. It’s a great way to learn from other teams, develop new skills, and even practice different languages. 

  1. Game Rooms

Want to play some foosball? Pool? Ping pong? A game room makes a great social, low-pressure outlet for stress in any office. 

  1. Team Off-Sites

This is a chance to get away from the office for a day or a week and have meaningful discussions about strategy and the future of the organization. 

  1. Spirit Days

Sure, it’s silly. But dressing up for Halloween or the Super Bowl or any other themed day can bring an intangible fun to the workplace, especially if there are prizes involved.  

  1. Bring Your Pet to Work Day

As long as you get the okay from any allergic employees, bringing your pet to work can be a fun way to see the furry, scaled, and four-legged children of your employees.

  1. Job Shadowing

Send your employees to be part of another team inside your company for a day to a week. Not only will this serve as a platform to learn new skills, but it will also give them valuable insight into the corporate structure and operations of a completely different team. 

  1. Bring Your Kid to Work Day

It’s a great relationship-building exercise between coworkers and families, plus it’s just a lot of fun in general. 

  1. Child-Friendly Holiday Parties

There’s nothing wrong with renting out a bar for an office holiday party. But one that’s fun for the whole family? That’s likely to yield a better turnout and more bonding across the board.  

  1. In-House Barista / On-Site Coffeeshop

Employees can spend a lot of time on coffee breaks outside the office. Having something on-site will not only be a treat for their wallets; it will also save them time (and, by extension, save you time as well).  

  1. Catered Lunches & Snacks

Much like an on-site coffee shop, in-house lunch means convenience, saving money, and focus. 

  1. Free Drinks After 5 PM

A couple of cold ones after a long workday can be a much-needed release and promote some good, old-fashioned happy hour bonding. 

  1. Complimentary Food Delivery

This is a great way to make employees feel valued, especially remote employees that can’t take advantage of in-office catered lunches.

  1. Grocery Delivery

When you’re working nine to five (or six… or seven), there’s not a lot of time left for grocery shopping. Company-sponsored grocery delivery can give your employees the free time they crave.

The Holistic Wellness Subscription

Modern benefits programs go beyond one-size-fits-all financial programs and insurance. They take a broader view of employee wellness by supporting various types of wellbeing — including social, emotional and physical — and do so in an a la carte fashion to better suit the needs of today’s multigenerational diverse workforce.

Given all these moving parts, assembling such a benefits program can be a heavy lift. Gympass can help, giving your employees subscription access to thousands of fitness centers and wellness apps that support their holistic wellbeing. Talk with a wellbeing specialist today to learn more!

 

 



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.