We all want to make sure our work doesn’t bleed into our lives. That line’s difficult to draw when work takes up the majority of your weekly waking hours, accumulating to an average 90,000 hours in a lifetime.
As an employer, your goal is to elevate employee experience so they can do their best work and live a better life. Although more employees are currently working from home than ever before, employers can still offer meaningful perks, such as flexible work options, extra holidays and more, to improve employees’ well-being.
Here’s why employers should provide perks at work — and some simple ways to get started.
What makes perks at work different from benefits?
While workplace perks are commonly grouped with employee benefits, they aren’t exactly the same thing.
Benefits include medical, life and disability insurance, as well as retirement accounts, paid vacation days and parental leave. Some benefits are legally required, such as minimum wage requirements or time off for jury duty, while others are not, but have come to be expected parts of standard benefits packages, like paid time off and medical insurance. Your organisation will likely find it difficult to stay competitive and retain workers if you don’t offer benefits.
The cherry on top of the good benefits sundae is workplace perks, those extra, nice-to-have incentives. Offering corporate perks is a great way to show you care and want employees’ experiences to be more enjoyable.
In fact, 68% of employees think perks are just as important as other traditional job benefits. Even so, perks should never be used as a bandage for poor company culture or compensation for negative work environments, poor management or low pay — but when done right, they can really elevate the employee experience.
Providing corporate perks benefits employers
We often hear of large tech companies in the news offering one extravagant perk after another. However, perks don’t have to be lavish to make a difference, and even offering small perks can make a difference to your employees. Small businesses that don’t have the resume caché of global firms can still compete for talent and keep employees engaged by offering popular and inexpensive to provide perks.
These incentives can take some work to implement, but ultimately, the rewards are worth it. Not only are perks at work a symbolic way for employers to show you care, but these offerings can also reduce turnover and raise performance results by building a happier, more engaged workforce.
This better employee experience can also grow your bottom line. Organisations that score in the top 25% for employee experience report nearly three times the return on assets and double the return on sales as compared to organisations in the bottom quartile.
Perks at work range from transportation subsidies to egg-freezing
Thanks to COVID-19, the world of work looks a little different right now. Many employees are required to work from home, while others have returned to shared workplaces. Here are a few examples of what perks at work might look like, depending on your current situation:
- Open (or unlimited) paid time off (PTO).
- Professional development funds for employees to attend conferences, training and courses, many of which can be done virtually.
- Transportation subsidies.
- Flexible work options, such as flexible work hours or working remotely.
- Free food and drinks. While these perks may be more difficult in a fully remote context, as more employees return to the office, they’ll likely become a strong attractor — provided, that is, safety procedures are followed.
- Fitness and wellness perks, such as subsidised exercise classes or an on-site gym.
- On-site amenities, such as childcare facilities, game rooms or nap pods.
- Pet-friendly environments.
- Monthly or quarterly team celebrations or happy hours, which can also be virtual. Besides being a great selling point for potential candidates, these activities boost morale by giving current employees something to look forward to.
- Stipends or reimbursements for employees to build comfortable work-from-home office spaces.
Perks don’t have to be lavish. According to data from employee experience startup Perkbox, some of the most sought-after perks from their offering are free monthly lunch from a local cafe, premium access to a top Australian mindfulness app, and discounts on groceries from major supermarkets and clothing retailers.
However, some companies do offer generous extras: Microsoft reimburses employees up to $800 per year for wellness-related expenses, while Ikea offers both salaried and hourly workers up to four months of paid parental leave, and major tech companies such as Facebook even offer egg freezing for female employees.
After COVID-19 required many to work from home indefinitely, companies such as Indeed and Shopify gave employees work-from-home stipends to cover their home office setup — raising employee morale and demonstrating empathy and concern for employee wellbeing during challenging times.
To sum it up …
With corporate perks, a little goes a long way. Although employees don’t necessarily need perks to enjoy their jobs, providing these nice-to-haves shows your company cares about worker wellbeing, which also boosts talent attraction and helps raise morale, productivity and performance.
The future of business will inevitably differ from past approaches to corporate management, but offering perks at work will always be appreciated by your employees. No matter what size your organisation, you can start with some of these ideas today to improve your company’s overall employee experience.