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Having a strong benefit and perks program in your workplace can boost employee retention, appeal to a stronger talent pool, and make your company a generally more attractive employer. Companies with the best benefits will retain and attract the best employees. While health, dental, vision, and life insurance are all standard and expected in most industries, some companies are offering rather unusual benefits in order to attract and retain talent.

Food

free food

Food has incentivized people since grade school. Can you take those same incentives and put them to work on employees? A lot of companies are and it seems to be working. 30 percent of people surveyed believe that food availability throughout the day contributes to their happiness at work. By providing free food for employees you can provide healthy options (contributing to your workplace’s overall health), increase productivity, and help employees save their money.

Depending on what your company can afford will depend on how much you can offer. Some companies do free fruit and snack, others do a weekly catered meal, and to the extreme end, some companies offer three free meals a day. When employees know where to get food, they’re less likely to leave the office and more likely to stick around and work more. It is a huge perk to a lot of workers, but it does cause some stress to those trying to lose weight, especially when junk food is abundant. If your company is considering adding food as a workplace perk, consider making options healthy and diverse. While it’s not a deal breaker for many applicants is seen as a huge perk.

Work/Life Balance

Work-life balance has become a buzzword in today’s workplace. How can you make your workplace the ideal location for them to achieve this?

Furry Friends

bring pets to work

For many, pets are an extension of their family. There’s a variety of ways that an employer can help employees take care of their cats and dogs: pet-friendly offices, pet insurance, pet daycare, and more.

Having a pet-friendly office can get a little complicated. You need to make sure you have rules in place for how well behaved animals are, make sure there’s a pet-free zone for anyone with allergies, and that it’s okay with whoever owns the building. For some employees having their furry friend with them at work can be reassuring. They know that their pet is okay. They don’t need to find a doggy daycare, and they aren’t worried about what could be happening at home. Generally, they’re going to be less distracted. Pets are also soothing when people are stressed. Many colleges are bringing pets to campus during finals to allow them to relax and de-stress.

For the Family

childcare

Childcare is expensive and can be stressful for working parents. Many times it makes more financial sense for one parent to stay home with the kids in order to save on childcare, so what if your company could help change that? It does not necessarily need to be free childcare but it is a big perk if it’s less than average, or on site. Onsite childcare provides parents the ability and ease of access to their children. Many places allow parents to enjoy lunch with their kids, or even just the ability to not have to go out of your way to take your child to daycare in the morning can make life significantly easier for your employees. When only a handful of states provide paid parental leave parents are in a rush to get back to the office. On-site, sponsored, and childcare that is easy to take care of can help ease parents back into their routine. If a company can’t offer all day care, backup care is extremely beneficial to parents as well as the company. It helps parents have a babysitter if theirs gets sick or daycare is closed but the office isn’t.

Another option for working parents is to give them another allowance of PTO for school and child-related activities. Say there is a school play from 2-3, this would allow them to duck out for a little bit and return to work. They can use the time to volunteer in the classroom, attend functions, and be present in their children’s lives. In addition, another option would be to open your company’s doors to new parents. As parents ease back into their routines by allowing them to bring their infants may provide them a sense of security as they ready to re-enter the workforce.

Some companies have started offering women egg-freezing options to those who would like to start families later in life. A typically expensive process, it allows women to start a family on their time rather than a biological clock.

Wellness

wellness benefits

Gym memberships, meditation/nap rooms, free feminine hygiene products, and yoga classes are just a few ways that you can help your employees achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Wellness goes beyond outward healthiness. If you provide your employees health insurance, is there a mental health allowance? Mental health is a growing issue in the US and employees may benefit if they can elect to put some money in a tax-free account to spend on mental health appointments and medications. If that is not an option, think about taking an empty office and turning it into a nap or meditation room for employees to momentarily turn off their brains and be stress-free, especially during their breaks.

Standup desks are a great way to get people off their feet all day. Rather than sitting down for 8-9 hours they can stretch their legs and get moving or sit down if they need a little bit. It can prevent a host of neck and back issues as well, reducing the amount of time employees spend out of the office and in doctor offices.

Want to team build? Bring in someone who could help out once a month with yoga classes, or have a rotating schedule. Not only are you promoting fitness for your employees but like-minded people may seem more of one another.

Free feminine hygiene products can be especially appealing to women. At Apple’s headquarters, the women’s restrooms are stocked with baskets of pads and tampons, could your office offer this? Machines that use a quarter or a dime are rarely filled so women are often forced to turn to ducking out to the drugstore, asking a coworker for help, or heading home for what they need. Although considered a medical device by the FDA, women cannot use flexible spending dollars to purchase feminine hygiene products. You offer free coffee, host parties, and other perks, so why not free tampons too?

Do-Gooders

Many people donate to charity every year or volunteer at one, or just generally try to do good for society.

One way companies can help be do-gooders is by matching charitable donations. 65% percent of Fortune 500 companies have a gift matching program. There’s a variety of ways to go about it, you can match 1:1 up to a certain amount, double a donation or do a little bit less depending on what can be done. Non-profits can even do this through employee paychecks.

Volunteering is great for the local and global community, however, employees may not want to dip into their personal days to do it. 8 hours per month, per quarter, or the standard per year can help your employees work on community outreach. If you don’t want to give VTO (volunteer time off) you can set a day as a company to go and volunteer. This can help boost retention and corporate visibility. People like to talk about companies helping out local communities.

Flexibility

flexible schedule

An employer then can offer flexibility in and out of the office is a huge perk to employees.

Unlimited vacation. At first, this sounds like an immediate hard no, but many companies have seen benefits from allowing their employees to take off whenever necessary. At some companies, it’s found that people take less time off, and others the same, not usually exceeding the amount. It helps show that your company cares about employees and that their paid time off (PTO) is in their hands. Make sure everyone knows and understand the rules, and sometimes a trial run is the best way to see if it would work for your company.

Flexible schedules are a huge perk for many employees- it can help them save time, money, and achieve their perfect work-life balance. A 40 hour week is the norm for an exempt employee usually from 8-5, 9-6, or in more recent years 7-4. Now, more companies are looking to reduce the amount of time employees are stuck in traffic, work at their most productive hours, and reduce tardiness and wasted PTO for appointments and child-related happenings.

What if you made your employees take a mandatory vacation? Some companies have decided that they will choose when an employee must take a week off. If employees tried to do any work, even check their email they wouldn’t get paid for the week off. Once the employee returned from their week of vacation their creativity, happiness, and most importantly productivity all rose. Practices like this can help prevent your employees from burning out.

Holidays tend to fall under employees’ religious beliefs, does your company’s policy reflect that? Floating holidays are a great way to show inclusiveness to employees and their religious convictions. Pre-determined holidays are civic, religious, and traditionally celebrated by the majority. A floating holiday allows for employees to break that standard and observe the ones they find to be most meaningful.

When summer comes around employees might get a little antsy to spend some time in the sun- has your company considered having a separate set of summer hours? People tend to lose their productivity, distracted by the weather and pending weekend. From Memorial Day to Labor Day some companies have a leave early on Friday policy, some it’s every other Friday, some companies employees can leave a half hour early Monday through Thursday and an hour early Fridays. For many companies, employees have the option to work 40 hours throughout the week and use whatever time they have accrued to leave early or take a day off.

Education

education benefits

Learning is key to advancing employees. If you give your employees the ability to learn, they may be more likely to stick it out with you.

The cost of a college education continues to rise, as well as the need for one. Young adults are graduating with thousands in debt, so some companies have started to offer tuition reimbursement. Through a loan-repayment assistance and advice program employees can pay off their debts quicker. It is a benefit that really attracts top-notch talent and will retain people who need the assistance. It can be as little or as significant as the company would like, but a little bit can go a long way.

Many companies use $100 as a goal to give employees each month. This benefits those looking to go back and further their education as well.

Sabbatical programs are another way employees can expand their education. They can be paid or unpaid, but either way, employees can return to rejuvenated with new ideas. Employees may be able to return with inspiration and a refreshed outlook on your company’s mission, especially if they spend time in a new place. A sabbatical program also encourages retention because they are awarded based on time spent at a company, and employees will want to earn one, especially if they are paid.