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Employee Recognition

Employee Perks and Benefits That Make a Difference in Attraction and Retention


At face value, it’s easy to see why employee perks and benefits would be desirable from an employee’s perspective. After all, who wouldn’t want health coverage or assistance in preparing for retirement? But if we delve deeper, it becomes clear that these benefits serve a dual purpose.

Table of Contents

What are Employee Perks and Benefits?

What Perks and Benefits Employees Actually Want

List of Employee Perks and Benefits That Can Make a Difference

How to Afford Employee Perks and Benefits

How to Build a Culture of Appreciation

The Value of Employee Perks and Benefits

What are Employee Perks and Benefits?

Employee perks and benefits, as an umbrella term, cover various forms of non-wage compensation provided to employees beyond their standard salaries or wages. The specifics may vary greatly from company to company, depending on factors such as industry norms, company size, and geographical location. However, they often include essentials like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

At face value, it’s easy to see why such employee perks and benefits would be desirable from an employee’s perspective. After all, who wouldn’t want health coverage or assistance in preparing for retirement? But if we delve deeper, it becomes clear that these benefits serve a dual purpose. They provide support for employees, yes, but they also contribute significantly to creating a positive work environment and cultivating an attractive company culture.

For example, health insurance coverage might translate to an employee as the company caring about their well-being. Retirement plans indicate a company’s investment in their employees’ futures. A generous paid time off policy suggests a company that respects work-life balance. Each employee perk and benefit sends a message to current and prospective employees about what the company values.

But the realm of employee perks and benefits doesn’t end with the essentials. Companies can, and often do, go above and beyond to offer unique benefits. Some companies offer benefits like parental leave, education reimbursement, or wellness programs, which can give them an edge in a competitive job market.

employee perks and benefits

Key Difference Between Employee Perks and Benefits

It’s crucial to distinguish between employee perks and benefits when discussing non-wage compensation. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings in the corporate context.

While employee benefits are considered a form of non-wage compensation that are standard for all employees, perks are a bit different. Employee perks are discretionary bonuses or incentives that can be tailored to individual employees or teams. They can be seen as the icing on the cake, adding extra appeal to a position or a company.

For example, health insurance would be a standard benefit offered to all employees, while a company car provided to a salesperson for extensive travel would be considered a perk. Or consider an employee who is given the flexibility to work remotely when needed. This isn’t a standard benefit—instead, it’s a perk that makes the job more attractive and convenient.

The crucial takeaway here is that while benefits ensure that employees’ fundamental needs are met, perks make a job or a company stand out as an attractive place to work. Both play essential roles in attracting and retaining employees, and therefore, both need to be carefully considered when developing your company’s compensation package.

How Employee Benefits Can Help You Attract and Retain Talent

According to Gallup’s recent study, 1 in 2 U.S. employees have thought about leaving their organization and about 50% of employees noted they were actively looking for a new job. What does this mean? Employers need to be actively working towards attracting and retaining top talent and employees.

When it comes to your company’s competitive position in the talent market, a strong employee benefits package can be a game-changer. It’s not just about offering a high salary or an exciting job role—the benefits and perks you provide can play a significant role in a potential candidate’s decision-making process.

Research shows that benefits contribute to job satisfaction, which in turn, influences an employee’s decision to stay with a company. Offering a comprehensive benefits package demonstrates to potential and current employees that the company values their contribution and is invested in their well-being. This helps to foster a positive employer brand, attracting high-quality candidates to your company.

Further, having a robust benefits package can contribute to employee engagement. When employees feel that their employer cares about their well-being and future, they’re more likely to be engaged at work. This can lead to increased productivity and profitability for your business.

Overview of How Employee Benefits Help

When strategically designed, employee perks and benefits contribute significantly to the overall employee experience. They don’t just meet basic needs but also cater to their overall well-being and future aspirations. 

Here’s a closer look at a few key benefits:

  • Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance is a top priority for most employees. A robust health plan demonstrates that you genuinely care about your employees’ well-being, providing them peace of mind, which translates into reduced stress and absenteeism.
  • Retirement Plans: By offering retirement benefits, like a 401(k) plan, you show your commitment to your employees’ future. Retirement benefits contribute to long-term employee retention and financial stability, displaying your investment in their future.
  • Paid Time Off (PTO): Adequate PTO policies give employees the chance to recharge, resulting in better work-life balance and increased productivity when they’re on the job.

Remember, though, that what employees value in perks and benefits can vary based on factors like age, family status, and personal interests. It’s crucial to have a pulse on your employees’ needs and preferences to provide the most valuable offerings.

employee perks and benefits

What Perks and Benefits Employees Actually Want

While the benefits mentioned above are highly valued, employees are increasingly looking for perks and benefits that address their whole life, not just their work life. A few top contenders are:

Flexible Work Arrangements:

The pandemic has shifted perspectives on work-life balance, and employees now place high value on the flexibility to work remotely or have flexible schedules.

Professional Development Opportunities:

Tuition reimbursement or in-house training sessions show your commitment to employees’ growth and can be a significant draw, especially for career-oriented individuals.

Wellness Programs:

Holistic well-being is a growing concern, and wellness initiatives can range from gym memberships to mental health resources, showing your commitment to your employees’ holistic health.

In the next section, we’ll delve into more detailed examples of perks and benefits you can consider for your organization.

List of Employee Perks and Benefits That Can Make a Difference in Attraction and Retention of Employees

Developing a strategic mix of employee perks and benefits can significantly improve employee attraction and retention. 

Perks to Offer

1. Mental Health Days:

In addition to standard sick days, offering mental health days can show your commitment to your employees’ mental health and well-being.

2. Flexible Hours:

Allowing employees to adjust their working hours to suit their needs can be a major perk, especially for those with families or other personal commitments.

3. Company Events:

Regularly held social events like BBQs, movie nights, or family fun days can boost morale and strengthen team relationships.

4. Continuous Learning:

Offering to cover the cost of books, courses, or conferences related to an employee’s job can show your support for their professional growth.

Benefits to Offer

1. Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA):

These accounts allow employees to set aside pre-tax dollars for healthcare or dependent care expenses, offering potential tax savings.

2. Life Insurance:

Offering life insurance policies can provide employees peace of mind and financial protection for their families.

3. Paid Parental Leave:

Both maternity and paternity leave are important for new parents. Offering paid parental leave can help you attract and retain talented employees.

4. Retirement Contribution Matching:

Matching employee contributions to a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), can be a strong incentive for employees to stay with your company.

These are just a few examples of the affordable employee perks and benefits that can make a significant difference in your company’s ability to attract and retain talent. Remember, the most effective benefits and perks are those that meet your employees’ specific needs and preferences, so it’s vital to gather employee feedback when designing your offerings.

Exploring Alternative Benefit Ideas

While standard benefits like health insurance and retirement plans are important, there’s plenty of room for creativity when it comes to designing your benefits package. In fact, offering unique benefits can set your company apart and make you stand out to job seekers. Here are some alternative, affordable employee benefit ideas that could make a significant difference:

Employee Wellness Programs:

More and more companies are investing in their employees’ health with wellness programs. These can range from offering fitness memberships to hosting regular wellness activities, such as yoga classes or wellness workshops. These initiatives not only demonstrate your commitment to your employees’ health but can also lead to lower healthcare costs and increased productivity.

Remote Work Opportunities:

The pandemic has shown that remote work is not only feasible but preferred by many employees. Offering the option to work from home, even if it’s just a few days a week, can be a highly attractive benefit that costs little to nothing for your company to provide.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):

EAPs provide support for personal problems or work-related issues that may impact an employee’s mental and emotional well-being. This can include counselling, legal advice, or help with financial planning. These programs can be a lifeline for employees going through challenging times and demonstrate that your company cares about them as individuals.

Customized Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs:

Employee recognition is a powerful motivator. Consider implementing an employee recognition and rewards program that allows employees to earn points for performance, which they can then redeem for rewards of their choice. This not only motivates performance but also gives employees the opportunity to choose rewards that are meaningful to them.

These are just a few examples of how thinking outside the box can lead to innovative, cost-effective benefits that your employees will love.

employee perks and benefits

How to Afford Employee Perks and Benefits

While it’s clear that a robust employee perks and benefits package can be a game-changer for attraction and retention, cost is always a consideration. Here are some strategies on how you can afford to offer competitive benefits:

Set a Budget:

Determine what portion of your budget you can allocate to employee benefits. This gives you a clear understanding of what you can offer and helps you prioritize based on what’s most important to your employees.

Consider Non-Financial Perks:

Not all perks have to be costly. Consider options like flexible work hours, the option to work remotely, or additional vacation days, which can be highly valued by employees but may not represent a significant cost to your business.

Split Costs with Employees:

Some companies choose to offer certain benefits like health insurance or gym memberships, where the cost is split between the employer and the employee. This allows you to offer the benefit at a lower cost to your company, while also offering a discounted rate to your employees.

Leverage Technology:

Benefits administration software can help streamline the management and delivery of benefits, often resulting in cost savings. Employee recognition and rewards software like Bucketlist Rewards can streamline managing employee perks and make the process a lot easier for your team.

The cost of offering employee perks benefits can indeed be a challenge, particularly for small businesses. However, considering the significant impact that a strong benefits package can have on your ability to attract and retain top talent, it can be well worth the investment.

Understanding Your Employees’ Needs

A successful employee perks and benefits program starts with understanding your employees’ needs. Conduct regular surveys or feedback sessions to understand what benefits your employees value the most.

Remember that what is attractive to one employee might not be important to another. Factors such as age, family status, and lifestyle can significantly influence what benefits are most appealing. For example, a recent college graduate might appreciate student loan assistance or professional development opportunities, while an employee with a family might value flexible working hours or childcare assistance.

It’s also a good idea for your company to stay updated on employee perks and benefits trends. What employee perks and benefits are companies in your industry offering? What benefits are appearing in job postings for similar roles? This information can help you stay competitive.

The Impact of Technology on Benefits Management

Technology plays a pivotal role in modern benefits management. Benefits administration software can streamline and automate the process, saving HR teams valuable time. Employee rewards and recognition programs like Bucketlist Rewards can make managing employee rewards a lot easier for your team. These systems can also improve the employee experience by making it easy for employees to view and select their benefits and rewards.

In addition, technology can play a role in delivering some benefits. For example, telehealth services are becoming an increasingly popular part of health insurance benefits. These services allow employees to consult with healthcare professionals remotely, saving them time and potentially reducing healthcare costs.

Another area where technology is making an impact is in the realm of flexible working. Tools for video conferencing, project management, and real-time collaboration, like Google Workspace, Slack, Asana, and Zoom are making it easier than ever for employees to work from home or other remote locations.

The key is to choose technology that aligns with your company’s needs and enhances your benefits program, without adding unnecessary complexity.

employee perks and benefits

Measuring ROI of a Benefit and Perk Program

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your employee perks and benefits programs can be challenging, but it’s a crucial aspect of ensuring your offerings are positively impacting your organization. A high ROI indicates that your investment in employee perks is well spent, contributing to the attraction, engagement, and retention of employees. Here’s a deeper look at how you can go about this complex task:

1. Establish Clear Objectives:

What are your benefits and perks meant to achieve? This could be attracting talent, reducing turnover, increasing productivity, or improving employee health. Establish clear, measurable objectives before rolling out new perks or benefits.

2. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

Depending on your objectives, your KPIs could be recruitment costs, turnover rates, employee engagement scores, absenteeism, or even measures of employee health, such as reduced health insurance claims.

3. Collect and Analyze Data:

To measure ROI, you’ll need data. HR information systems or benefits administration software can provide valuable data. You can also conduct employee surveys to gather feedback on whether employees value the benefits and perceive them as a key part of their compensation.

4. Calculate ROI:

Compare the cost of providing each benefit or perk to its impact on your KPIs. For example, if your objective is to reduce turnover, how much are you saving on recruitment and training costs by retaining employees through your benefits program? The difference between your cost and savings or earnings equates to your ROI.

5. Conduct Regular Reviews:

Employee needs and business objectives change over time. Conduct regular reviews of your benefits and perk programs—in addition to employee engagement surveys—to ensure your perks, benefits, and rewards program continue to provide value. If a particular program isn’t delivering a high ROI, it may be time to consider alternatives.

Keep in mind that not all employee perks and benefits will deliver a tangible ROI. Some, like a positive company culture or improved employee well-being, are intangible but valuable nonetheless. Therefore, while it’s important to measure ROI, it shouldn’t be the sole determinant of what benefits and perks you offer.

In summary, measuring ROI is an essential part of managing a successful employee perks and benefits program. It requires ongoing effort and can be complex, but the insight it provides can be invaluable in ensuring your benefits and perks are effective, valued by employees, and contribute to your organization’s success.

How to Build a Culture of Appreciation

Building a culture of appreciation isn’t about implementing a one-size-fits-all program or ticking off a box. It’s about fostering an environment where employees feel valued and recognized for their efforts. Here are some steps to help build this culture:

Recognize Regularly:

Don’t wait for annual reviews to give positive feedback. Make recognition a regular part of your team meetings or company communications.

Personalize Praise:

Everyone likes to be recognized in different ways. Some may appreciate public acknowledgment, while others prefer private recognition. Get to know your employees’ preferences and tailor your recognition accordingly.

Lead by Example:

As a leader, your actions set the tone for the rest of the team. Show your appreciation for your team’s efforts and encourage other leaders to do the same.

Implement a Recognition Program:

Consider implementing a formal recognition program where employees can acknowledge their peers’ efforts. This can foster a sense of camaraderie and a culture where appreciation is the norm.

A culture of appreciation can boost morale, improve job satisfaction, and contribute to a positive work environment. And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t have to cost a thing!

The Value of Employee Perks and Benefits

Attracting and retaining top talent is a major challenge for businesses, but a well thought-out employee perks and benefits program can give you the edge you need. By understanding your employees’ needs, getting creative with your offerings, and harnessing technology, you can create a program that not only attracts top talent but keeps them happy and engaged for the long haul.

It’s not just about the perks and benefits you offer, but how you offer them. Ensure you communicate effectively about your perks and benefits, and give your employees a voice in shaping them. After all, perks and benefits are ultimately about people – your employees. Treat them right, and they’ll undoubtedly do the same for your business.

Remember, employee perks and benefits are an investment in your people, and that’s an investment that always pays off. So, go ahead and start building your perks and benefits program today. Your employees—and your business—will thank you.

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