Offering great work perks at your business is becoming more important as the talent pool changes and gets pickier about where they work. As a small business owner, understanding the current employee perks you offer, and the ones that maybe you could add on, can be crucial to retaining and gaining talent as you compete against bigger fish.
What Work Perks Are & Why They Are Important
Work perks are the additional benefits, both tangible and intangible, that an employer provides for employees. Those catered lunches offered by the the booming tech giants are a commonly recognized work perk, as are the crazy holiday parties notoriously thrown by investment banks. But traditional benefits are also work perks, like health insurance and paid time off.
Work perks are important to businesses of all shapes and sizes because they are often key to your company culture, and have real value to employees, regardless of if there is money attached. We’ve even conducted our own recent study on work perks, and found that even millennials value the same kinds of work perks that other age groups do, showing you just how important they are to people when choosing a job.
Having great work perks that make sense for your business can help you to:
- Retain and attract new talent
- Enhance your reputation as an employer and business
- Provide an atmosphere that reflects your company’s core values
- Improve employee engagement and employee satisfaction
Let’s now first look at what great work perks are most important to employees.
16 Employee Perks From Around the Web
Benefits like health insurance are considered a work perk since many employers are not required to offer them. Not surprisingly, these normal benefits still have the biggest impact on employee satisfaction, according to Glassdoor Economic Research.
The 9 most valued work perks include:
- Perk 1: Health Insurance
- Perk 2: Vacation & Paid Time Off
- Perk 3: Retirement Plan or 401k Plan
- Perk 4: Dental Insurance
- Perk 5: Maternity Leave
- Perk 6: Paternity Leave
- Perk 7: Paid Sick Days
- Perk 8: Vision Insurance
- Perk 9: Paid Holidays
Using a free tool like Gusto HR Basics can help you create vacation and sick day policies online so you can store everything in one place for your employees to see. You can then manage time off requests and approvals directly through Gusto HR Basics. Click here to get started for free.
Let’s now check out some more employee perks from other businesses.
Since the above work perks are more like traditional benefits, we polled small business owners to learn about the unique, out-of-the-box, work perks they offer
Our first 5 perk examples come from Amanda Windsor, PR and Outreach Manager of Power Digital Marketing. Amanda told us that Power Digital Marketing provides an incredible environment through its employee perks, which include:
Perk 10: Unlimited PTO
Our motto at Power Digital is “work hard, play hard,” and we enforce this policy with our unlimited paid time off offering. It’s so nice knowing that as long as your work and responsibilities are handled, PTO is never an issue.
From our HR expert:
According to SHRM, unlimited PTO is getting a lot of media attention and for good reason- it’s popular and appealing to employees. Management has found, ironically, not putting a limit on PTO makes people take less time off. However, we caution you to put a strong policy in place in your employee handbook if you do decide to offer unlimited PTO, especially if you are in a state where you are required to pay out time off in the case of firing or layoff.
Perk 11: Presidents’ Club
As a company, we set aggressive goals as a team and individuals. When we hit those goals, we celebrate! Our employees who meet & exceed these goals are awarded into our President’s Club. In 2014, President’s Club went to Maui, Hawaii. In 2015 President’s Club went to Guanacaste, Costa Rica. And, this past March the 2016 President’s Club set off to the island of Kauai, Hawaii!
Perk 12: Mentorship Program
Recognizing our team’s thirst for knowledge and desire to have access to opportunities to grow in the workplace, the partners put their heads together and created Power Pairs – a new-age employee development program that pairs diverse employees together and enables them to share personal expertise on a peer-to-peer level. The 3-month program sharpens employees’ skillsets, forges deeper and more meaningful work relationships and takes the company to the next level! The winning pair that comes up with the most innovative idea for the business even receives $1,000 for their efforts!
Perk 13: Catered Lunches
To keep our team healthy and continue to build the bonds and friendship between teammates, we cater almost every lunch so that team members can eat healthy and enjoy lunch together.
From our HR expert:
Many contributors cited having healthy options for lunches (and for snacks) as a great work perk they offer. While many don’t go as far as Power Digital Marketing and providing it every day, there were a number of mentions of this and supporting their employees this way.
Perk 14: Pet Friendly Workplace
We have one office dog (Enzo) who’s in everyday and employees bring in their fur friends too!
From our HR expert:
While I am a complete dog person, as an HR consultant, I have to caution a few things on providing a pet-friendly workplace (which is becoming more common on the West Coast). First, you need to make sure that your building (if you lease) allows for animals on site and seek approval from your leasing company. Second, you will need to also ensure that your employees are truly in support of this (i.e. versus those with allergies or a fear of animals) and consider an anonymous survey to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
Finally, we recommend this being an option once per week or per month versus every day. Havings pets in the office can be very distracting, and it requires owners to walk their pets every few hours. There would need to be strong guidelines along what kind of pet can come, the demeanor of the pet and the proof of its vaccination and shots, and a signature on a pet policy that would also align with progressive discipline for violations.
More Great Work Perks from Around the Web
The contributions don’t stop there though. We found an overwhelming number of companies that had more interesting ideas and creative ways to keep people excited about coming to work with great work perks.
One of my favorite perks at JotForm is that we go out to a restaurant of our choosing for a team lunch once a week. I’ve heard of catered lunches before, but it’s really nice to get out of the office, explore San Francisco a little, and find a new restaurant.
— Chad Reid, Director of Communications from JotForm
One Click partnered with a traveling mechanic who comes about once a month and does tire rotations, oil changes, and any other checks that are asked from him. Employees love this because it makes life a little easier rather than having to take time off work to get their car worked on.
— Katie Wenclewicz, PR Specialist from One Click Ventures
As a travel management company founded on our genuine passion for travel, it is crucial that our employees stay educated and involved in the world of travel on a personal level. We pay for every employee to take an optional annual “FAM” (familiarization) trip to discover their choice of a new destination or experience, and consistently offer employees additional FAM trips from our travel partners. These paid vacations are in addition to standard PTO, which is incredibly valuable to the employee but also enables Cadence to stay relevant and conversational about travel. In fact, we recently replaced our office artwork with photographs of recent employee travel experiences to create an ongoing celebratory conversation about travel.
— Wendy Burk, CEO & Founder from Cadence
Once a week, we take about 20-30 minutes out of our day, gather together in the conference room, and play a game. This can range from trivia, nerf gun target practice, or even (hilariously) Cards Against Humanity. It’s a great way to break out of our weekly routine, and really laugh and bond with our colleagues. While it may seem silly, and only be 20-30 minutes a week, it really helps create an air of camaraderie in the office.
— Haley Steed, Outreach Specialist from Direct Online Marketing
One of our work perks here at FFunction is free bike tune ups/repairs. The company offers this as an incentive to get everyone commuting by bike instead of by car. Most employees take up the offer (approximately half of the team commute by bike, and two of them bike year-round, snow banks, blizzards, whatever!).
— Rebecca Galloway, Communications Manager from FFunction
Perk 20: 2 Incredible Months
“Magical Month of MyCorp” and “Summer Camp MyCorp” are in December and July of each year and consist of fun events each day of those months. It can range from hula hooping, to lottery tickets, to Starbucks runs, to ice cream trucks and lunch deliveries. We decorate our desks, have signature holiday drinks organized by each department, and play games.
— Deborah Sweeney, CEO from MyCorporation
We have an espresso bar in our store and we keep it stocked with all the goodies so employees can make their favorite coffee drinks anytime they wish. It saves them from having to pay several dollars for Starbucks, and they can make several per day if they want to.
— Ron Yates, CEO from Titanium-Jewelry
We encourage our employees to learn more about gemology and jewelry through G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America). G.I.A. offers many different educational programs and certificates. Once an employee successfully completes one of the programs they are reimbursed for the cost of the tuition.
— Ron Yates, CEO from Titanium-Jewelry
Employees can nominate fellow team members for going above and beyond while upholding one of our five Core Values, which are Commitment, Innovation, Being Current, Excellence, and Respect. Each nomination enters that employee into a drawing for a three-day, all expenses paid trip for two. The nominator is also entered into a separate drawing for a prize.
— Kristi Piehl, CEO and Founder of Media Minefield
Turn washroom into a peaceful sanctuary – washroom is more important than we think, it’s a place where employees go to get some for privacy at work. Keep it clean, hygienic and well maintained. Put some refreshing plants in, and install soothing music.
— Katrina McKinnon, Community Outreach at Alsco
Show that you care about your employees’ health and safety – organize first aid training, make medical supplies and first aid accessible, and support injured and sick employees.
— Katrina McKinnon, Community Outreach at Alsco
Now, I’ll share some of my ideas and things I have seen from my days as an HR person.
6 More Great Work Perks From Our HR Expert
Below are 5 of the most common work perks that I have seen companies offer when I was an in-house HR Manager and as an HR Consultant. Most of these are very reasonably priced, which is why I think you see them so frequently.
Perk 26: Beer Fridays
Taking happy hour to the next level, as well as keeping it in control budget-wise, many companies are bringing the happy hour into the office by having a case or two of beer and some wine available starting at 4 pm on Fridays. Not only is it cheaper, it encourages the mingling that is the purpose of company events and it is easily “cut-offable”- once the 24 beers are gone, happy hour is over, which cuts down on any risk for the company.
Perk 27: On-site Free Yoga/Pilates/Exercise Classes
Many people need some form of stress relief and everyone needs some exercise these days. Companies have picked up on this and have started to bring exercise into the office. A private instructor is usually only $50-100/hour, which makes for a fairly inexpensive perk that management can help with. I’ve even seen companies offer up to 3 classes per week, which can create the foundation of an employee wellness program.
Perk 28: Free Soda, Sparkling Water, and Tea
Not everyone drinks coffee these days, and companies have noticed that by offering not just the usual coffee pot but sparkling water, teas, and sodas of all kinds. While this seems small, it can be a huge value add for employees in saving them time and money from going to the local vending machine or supermarket whenever they want something different than water.
Perk 29: Assist With Transportation Costs
Some states require employers to offer commuter benefits that assist with transportation costs such as bus passes, parking fees and bike maintenance. But even if your location doesn’t require them, if commuting is a cost your employees gripe about, consider offering commuter benefits. They’re tax free to the employee, and can save them hundreds of dollars a year.
Perk 30: Working from Home & Flexible Schedule
With our digitally connected world, working from home and getting work done during off-peak hours is a lot easier than it used to be. Not only can this save a company money (less desks = smaller offices = less rent and bills), but it can attract great talent who needs to balance other needs like a family to your team.
Perk 31: Profit Sharing
More and more small businesses are opening up their employees to profit sharing in order to connect them to the company mission and vision, and to the bottom line. This can be an awesome employee perk because it can really be an incredible add to performance management, while also fattening everyone’s wallets when the company does well.
While employee perks that you can do on your own are plentiful, you might want to regulate it a bit more or consider outsourcing the program.
6 Employee Perks Companies
If executing great work perks seems a little overwhelming, guess what? There are third party vendors out there who can help you. Here are 5 great employee perks providers:
- Reward Gateway– Reward Gateway is a platform that encompasses discounts, rewards, engagement, and also incorporate company insight options to assess your company’s engagement level.
- Fond– Fond does employee rewards, recognition, and corporate discounts for your whole team as their perks platform.
- Perks At Work– This company has an interesting element that it adds onto the typical rewards and discounts because it also includes programs and trainings by thought leaders as part of the program.
- Badgeville– Badgeville is a gamification company for employee perks. It’s meant for larger companies and not only has employee perks, but it also has a way to track trainings and employee engagement.
- YouEarnedIt– Focusing on the employee engagement aspect, YouEarnedIt is a rewards and recognition platform that also focuses on reducing employee turnover for businesses.
- Zeel– Zeel is an on-demand massage service that can make your employees’ zen in less than 24 hours notice. You can also buy your employees gift certificates as well if that is easier.
Over to You
Let us know what work perks you have implemented as a business owner. We provide even more suggestions in our article on employee recognition. Have you tried something different in your business? Did it work and why or why not? Please share in the comments.