You’re busy applying for a bunch of jobs, and you notice a trend among the ads you’re seeing.
All of the companies you’re looking to apply for say they offer great “employee perks.”
What does this actually mean? What are employee perks, and why are they important for you as a job seeker?
In this article, we’ll give you a complete rundown of what employee perks are and how they work before diving into 24 of the most popular types of perks that companies offer as part of their salary packages.
Employee perks are non-wage offerings that employers provide to their workers over and above their salaries.
They’re called “perks” because they aren’t included in what you’re paid for the hours you’ve worked (your wage or annual salary covers that). They’re additional benefits you gain from working there.
Some companies distinguish between perks and employee benefits. Benefits are described as being a part of your salary package (like health insurance), while perks aren’t defined in your contract. This includes things like wellness programs that seek to improve company culture.
By and large, though, perks and benefits are terms that can be used interchangeably.
We’re going to discuss several perks in detail shortly, but a few common examples include:
Free healthy snacks
An employee discount program
Payment for undertaking certification
Employee perks provide a number of benefits for both workers and employers alike:
Employee retention: 69% of employees say a diverse perks program would make them more likely to stay at a company.
Reduced stress: 74% of employees say additional benefits offered with a raise would help to reduce stress.
Increased productivity: Companies that use perks to help employees live happier lives see an increase in productivity of 17%.
On the whole, perks programs are shown to improve employee happiness and job satisfaction.
There’s a financial element at play too.
Things like medical insurance policies can be expensive, and companies can often access policies at a cheaper rate because they’re buying in bulk.
But employee perks initiatives are becoming much more holistic than just providing health and dental insurance.
Many companies now provide some form of mental health assistance and benefits that support the emotional needs of employees, like additional paid time off and flexible work hours.
Let’s break down 24 employee perks that companies offer.
While annual retreats used to be quite popular, distributed teams and a culture of remote work have made such events much more difficult to organize.
The good news is that these tend to have been replaced with more regular, small-scale outings like after-work drinks and team-building exercises.
The ability of these events to be held more frequently means they’re often more desirable from the employee’s perspective.
A small but meaningful way companies contribute toward employee well-being is by providing free coffee, tea, and snacks.
Health-conscious organizations might invest in a weekly fresh fruit box or fill vending machines with healthy snacks rather than cookies and potato chips.
Weekly team lunches are also a popular option.
Many consumer retail companies (like Best Buy, for example) provide employees with a generous discount.
This allows workers to purchase goods from the company, often at cost (the price the company paid for the item).
Discounts like this are especially meaningful in frequent-purchase environments like supermarkets, as employees are able to exercise this perk regularly.
Businesses can partner with specific organizations to offer discounted purchases outside of the company’s own goods.
For example, your office could seek an arrangement with your local movie theater to provide all employees with 25% off movie tickets as a way of encouraging a healthy work-life balance.
Gym memberships are a simple, cost-effective way to promote physical wellness and improve quality of life.
A membership at a local gym can cost more than $500 per year for individuals, which is too much for some employees.
By taking advantage of economies of scale (the tendency for price to decrease as you purchase a higher quantity), companies can save as much as half of this, making it a much more viable option.
Gym memberships aren’t the only way companies can encourage physical exercise and attract top talent.
The best companies with a significant commitment to improving employee health may offer a number of wellness perks at work, like:
Many of us struggle with creating and sticking to a budget, and it's not hard to find yourself in a poor place financially, even if you earn a decent salary.
Companies can serve employees’ financial well-being by providing a confidential, third-party financial advice service.
In the U.S., 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness.
Unfortunately, the cost of getting help often makes seeing a counselor unattainable. The average cost for a counseling session is between $60–$120.
Businesses should include some form of mental health or counseling service as part of their perks policy, such as an Employee Assistance Program.
Many of us have come home after a long workday and realized that we’re burning out and need a break.
Unfortunately, there is no federal requirement for paid time off (PTO), and leave can vary significantly based on industry, occupation, and length of service.
Employers can improve employee engagement, fulfillment, and satisfaction, as well as reduce the likelihood of burnout, by increasing the number of PTO days each employee receives.
One of the main causes of sick days, especially during winter, is employees getting the flu.
Companies can reduce absenteeism and protect employees’ health by offering free annual flu shots.
Having a child is a stressful event, not least of all due to the financial strain it puts on the family.
New parents typically need (or prefer) to take time off after their baby is born, but bills still need to be paid.
Employers can support new parents during this time by offering paid maternity and paternity leave.
The flexibility of work is important to many of us, but it's crucial for millennials, 79% of whom value flexibility as one of their top five criteria in finding a job.
Flexible scheduling allows employees to set their own work schedules (or at least take some time off when required and make it up another day), improving their work-life balance, job satisfaction, and overall sense of meaning and well-being.
Performance bonuses are a great way to show a little employee recognition and for managers to incentivize specific behaviors.
For example, imagine you work as a production line worker at your local plant.
You’ve increased productivity by 20% in the last quarter, which has made a massive impact on the company’s bottom line.
Your boss might give you a performance bonus, which is a cash payment to your bank account as a reward for your efforts.
Companies often choose to support employees with children by providing some form of child care assistance.
This might look like an on-site daycare center or a weekly stipend to pay for outside childcare costs.
Since the pandemic forced many companies to reevaluate business operations, nearly 3/4 of us are working from home.
Now that employees have a taste for it, many are asking for remote work flexibility, with 54% wanting to stick with remote work even if the office opens back up.
Employers can serve this need by offering the option for remote work as one of their employee perks.
Many companies that allow employees to work from home provide a financial contribution toward setting up a home office.
This might be a reimbursement or a cash contribution, or the company might purchase and distribute items like desks, chairs, and monitors.
Providing ergonomic desk accessories can be a great way to improve physical well-being and reduce neck and back harm.
Popular options include:
Ergonomic office chairs
Ergonomic keyboard and mouse
Company game rooms can be a great way to encourage a good work-life balance and add a social element to the workday.
Businesses can bring in equipment like:
Happy hours have always been an employee-driven event, with participants heading to a bar after work for a few drinks on a Friday.
Now that many of us are working remotely, companies have begun hosting happy hour sessions online, where employees can get together for an hour or two after hours and socialize outside of the work context.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that allowing employees to bring their pets to work has an impact on happiness, well-being, engagement, and morale.
Companies that have inner-city offices can provide a commute cost perk, where employees are reimbursed for the cost of their travel.
Environmentally conscious companies can incentivize good behaviors by providing this benefit for public transport users only.
One of the most common benefits is to provide health insurance packages.
There are a variety of different kinds, including:
Further training and development are some of the most desired employee benefits. This can be one of the main reasons people choose one job over another.
Companies can serve this need in a number of ways:
On-site training and development
Off-site seminars and events
Investing in coaching initiatives
For many, giving back to the community is an important part of spiritual well-being, connection, and general wellness.
Unfortunately, most of us only get two days off each week, so it can be hard to find the time.
Companies can play a part here by providing an allowance of paid time off for employees who want to volunteer in their local community.
One of the challenges for employees is establishing what kind of perks your company actually offers and if they’re willing to consider expanding their offering.
Follow these steps to feel confident approaching your manager to discuss employee perks:
Educate yourself: Understand the different kinds of perks available and their benefits (you’ve already nailed this step)
Find the right time: It’s best not to approach this conversation during times of stress or poor business performance. Ideally, bring this subject up following a successful month.
Ask for time to discuss: Show your boss that you respect their time by asking to book a meeting to discuss perks rather than catching them off guard.
Approach with a mindset of curiosity: Rather than demanding that the company provide perks, show that you’re interested in how the company currently operates: “I’ve been reading up on employee perks and benefits, and I’m wondering what our company’s approach to this is?”
Have some suggestions prepared: In many cases, your boss will ask for your opinion on what you think the perks package should look like. Using the information you’ve prepared here, put together a list of five to seven benefits that you think would be most appreciated and have the biggest impact on your colleagues.
Now that you’ve got a great understanding of the 24 most important and desired employee perks, there are a couple of questions left to answer:
Which perks are most important to you?
Does your company currently offer those benefits?
If the answer to the second question is no, and you’ve been unsuccessful in bringing it up with your manager, then the next step might be to look for a new job.