50 Great Employee Benefits You Didn’t Know You’re Offering

— February 7, 2018

Last week, I wrote about lame job recruitment and how marketing for those less than glamorous roles can seem impossible. There are many ways to attract the right person to your hard to fill jobs (have you tried building candidate personas yet?), but marketing your great employee benefits is key. You’re probably thinking:

But we can’t afford fancy benefits.

This list isn’t about those expensive employee benefits packages. Instead, we’re focusing on the perks and benefits that you didn’t know your employees love and candidates dream about. If you think you have nothing or very little to offer your applicants, you need to read this:

1. Work-flex.

By far the number one desire of most workers (regardless of generation), this is easier to implement than most managers or HR Pros are willing to admit. Start with flexible start and quit times and go from there.

2. Job sharing.

A great option for parents coming back from leave and those who want to contribute to the workforce but aren’t yet ready to ramp to 40 hours a week (and maybe never will be). This is a fantastic way to keep those who might be interested in going solo and/or consulting because they need more time with family or to pursue other hobbies.

3. Work from home hours.

Everyone wants them and companies are starting to wise up. Working from home has never been easier to do, or for your micromanagers, to TRACK. From video onboarding to online intranets where everyone can check in and out, it’s dead simple to make this a reality in your company. And if you’re not ready to go whole hog, try it for one day a week, then 2, then 3. You can even use it as a benefit (it actually costs less in many office environments to shut down for a three day weekend, making your employee benefit a money saver!)

4. Free or low-cost food.

The cost of granola bars, gum, beverages, fresh fruit and snacks is NOTHING compared to the money you save having happy, engaged and well-fed employees. Whether you’re a blue, grey or white-collar workplace, there are definitely people who are struggling enough that a .79 granola bar every day can make a real difference. If they can take home food when money is tight, so much the better. Even if your employees don’t NEED the food, chances are they’ll appreciate this very low-cost benefit.

5. Rides to work.

I recently spoke with a client who was about to write up a large group of women from a certain department. Inexplicably, they’d all started being chronically late. Until we investigated, no one realized the city buses and the school districts nearby had changed some of their scheduling and thrown these ladies’ lives into total disarray. An 8:15 elementary school start time instead of 8:00, combined with city bus schedules made it nearly impossible for them to get to work on time. Instead of writing them up, the company created an easy shuttle and altered some schedules. Performance, attrition and employee stress management? All solved with a $ 75 per day solution.

6. Proximity to candidates’ home or school.

We’re all so dependent on job boards and sourcing engines, we forget that sometimes, the best thing to do is put up a help wanted sign, literally. If there are schools, daycares, cafes and or churches near your work, consider how quickly you might find dedicated and loyal workers who either don’t want a long commute or don’t have the ability to get to and from work that’s farther away. You might find a local stay at home dad who could wrap up your accounts payable in a jiffy, or a high school student without a car, who could get your extra filing done in a snap.

7. No dress code.

This is crucial to so many younger folks. I cannot tell you how many people take out their piercings and cover their tattoos when they come in to interview. One recruiter even put in his job ad that people could wear what they wanted to work. He was overrun with applications. Think about it, you’re looking for a job, so money is understandably tight and you finally get one at…say a restaurant (even though you have your degree in business admin). You are told to show up for work and the uniform is a black polo (no logos!) and a pair of crisp chinos with black non-skid shoes (no logos!). That get up, along with being ugly, will set you back at least $ 70 at KMart and that’s before your first shift. Screw that.

8. No phone work.

I hate talking on the phone. I can do it, but I hate it. Many of the up and coming generations hate it too! If you can offer them a job where they won’t have to chat on the phone, answer the phone, sell on the phone or conduct surveys on the phone, they might just stay with your for life.

9. All phone work.

However, everyone is different. Some people could jabber the day away. Instead of sticking them in a cubicle, try offering Bluetooth headsets so they can wander, or offer exercise ball chairs so they can move during their 8-hour shifts.

10. No computer skills.

My parents can’t figure out half their electronics, but they are some of the smartest people I know. Discounting those who have no idea how to use a computer is a stupid move. If you can offer a position editing, writing, answering phones, answering questions, handling office tasks, greeting customers, or mentoring workers (there are COUNTLESS others) to those who are scared to death of computers, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

11. No set offices.

Sometimes people need to move around. In our offices, we have a living room area, a games area, shared desks that rotate, private offices, a round table, square tables, a standup bar, a cycle desk and even more configurations on where you can work. Sometimes people change their space multiple times in a day.

12. Private offices.

On the other hand, sometimes people need a space to get away. For those people, a private space where they can work uninterrupted (many LOATHE the open office concept) is a benefit they may not have received in the past. This one area can actually create a benefit while costing you nothing. Only have a few? Use them as a rotating benefit for employee of the month perhaps.

13. Lots of coworker interaction.

No matter your workforce (unless you run a PR firm) you likely have a mix of introverts, extroverts and ambiverts. The latter two will want lots of interaction with their coworkers. Offer this and you may beat out the other company whose office was as silent as a tomb.

14. Little to NO coworker interaction.

Take that and reverse it. Some people want to spend their entire day working with no interruptions. You can either fire everyone else or build a culture where these folks can do their best work. At the very least, purchase headphones for all (a fantastic investment).

15. ROWE (Results based work environment).

Remember that feeling when you’d finish the test 30 minutes before all the other kids and then have to WAIT, doing NOTHING, for a half HOUR? Well, I do, and your HIPOs probably feel it too. If you can feasibly offer a ROWE for those who are just killing it, you’ll likely keep them for life.

16. Gym onsite or subsidized membership.

No one ever feels they have enough time to work out. When your workplace offers you a way to get it done, it’s automatically a benefit. While subsidizing a gym membership feels amazing to your team, chances are, it will cost you next to nothing, especially if you work with a smaller gym that’s local. They get new clients, you get a great benefit and your costs will likely be based on who actually signs up (human nature tells us, it will be around half).

17. Health coverage.

It’s a heady time to be offering healthcare coverage. Whether you have to or not, it’s something your employees will appreciate. In larger companies, this is expected, but for smaller ones, it’s often a leap they worry about taking. If you can, pay 100% of your employees’ health insurance. If you can do more, give their family 100% as well. It buys you more loyalty that you’ll ever know.

18. No customer interaction.

Some people hate clients, customers and the like. Some are just plain too shy to deal with them. These shy folks can make incredibly great employees if you know how to use them in your organization. For many with anxiety or depression disorder, the promise that they don’t have to see people daily is an actual benefit.

19. Willing to hire ex-convicts.

While the choice of hiring violent offenders, sexual offenders or those convicted of fraud is totally up to you, there are thousands of smart, incredibly motivated people out there who have paid their debt to society and are ready to make a change in life. While Ban the Box is a start, some forward-thinking companies are doing like the FBI did and finding smart workers who can show them how to be craftier, smarter and ahead of the competition. Jean Valjean anyone?

20. Willing to hire ex-SAHMs.

It’s kind of depressing that this is the next item on the list but SAHMs are treated abominably in the job market (still, even though it’s currently candidate driven). Did you take time off to raise children? Well, you’re probably as ancient as the crypt keeper and we’re not interested in your skills. Dumb. DUMB! Moms are among the most organized, multi-tasking, focused, non-nonsense workers out there.

21. The ability to watch TV while working.

People love TV and OS, we’re in the golden age of television. If you have a job that doesn’t require tremendous brain power, and it doesn’t pose a safety issue, turn on the tube and watch the applications rooooooolllll in.

22. The ability to listen to music while working.

While it seems ridiculous, many people can’t even listen to the music they want to listen to while working. In some cases, this makes sense, but in most…it’s an easy benefit to offer that will turn the heads of music aficionados.

23. The ability to surf social media while working.

While you may need your employees to stay off social, for many companies, it’s more of an ego trip. Not only will you have a benefit to offer over many MANY other employers, you’ll also have potential employee ambassadors at your behest.

24. A set schedule.

For the new mom, the senior student, the grandfather who babysits on Tuesdays, a set schedule is a godsend. Instead of waiting every week for the schedule to be posted, these folks (and many more) can rest assured knowing their schedule will not change…unless they want it to.

25. A flexible schedule.

On the other hand, some people are in a band, or want to make extra cash this week but will be gone all summer. For these people a flexible schedule is ideal and a distinct benefit.

26. A schedule that matches school schedules or daycare schedules.

If your average worker works 8-5, how much would they miss if they worked 8-3 or 12-6? You may open a giant talent pool of workers simply by cutting a few hours off the end of the day OR allowing folks to start later so they can care for aging parents or get kids off to school. Simply pro-rate PTO and Vacation and deliverables to fit into a 30-35 hour schedule instead of a 40/week one.

27. Benefits for full and part-time workers.

Full time is easy. Part-time is harder. Starbucks recently came under fire for both offering the same maternity and paternity leave to its hourly workers as it does to its office workers. Whatever your decision, offering benefits to part-time workers can help keep them in the fold while they develop into full-time workers.

28. Discounts on company merchandise or services.

Unless this whole employer brand thing is a total hoax, many people are likely working for your company because they like what you do, provide, make… If they do, why not follow Nike’s lead and offer them great prices on amazing products? Restaurants have been doing it for decades, why not follow suit? A variation of this idea is to give your employees the permission to work on your platform or technology (printers, computers, publishing platforms etc.) to move their own personal projects forward.

29. Access to the latest books/games/music/software/tech/movies.

One of my favorite jobs was the runner at a metro newspaper. Because the office was empty, not only could I feed my infant son, I could also read the books, in the book review section (which I only knew about because my onboarding person told me, I am convinced everyone in the newspaper business is in love with the written word). I spent night after night, curled up with the latest book, loving my job (which paid $ 6.25 an hour).

30. A company phone.

Most people use their phone for their jobs. Offer to pay for it and you could be one fantastic employer.

31. A company car.

Have a lot of sales roles? Company cars may just be the key. I mean, it worked for Mary Kay…

32. A company computer.

Almost every company provides a desktop, but what you employees may really crave is a tablet or a laptop with a screen setup for when they’re in the office but the portability to work where they like.

33. Contests.

Some folks have the competitive drive, others don’t. Either way, knowing you have contests in your workplace may be enough to get a competitor to apply. This is similar to pay for performance but it also flicks that recognition nerve.

34. Pay for performance.

My husband is a stellar salesperson. But once he realized all the team members were being compensated the same (despite selling vastly different quantities), he kinda lost his mojo. Pay for performance and those who WANT to make more…will.

35. Meetings or consistent gatherings.

Every Friday, I spend about $ 80 on wine, cheese and snacks. We knock off an hour early and just chat. It’s a recruiting tool, an engagement tool, a survey tool and more all wrapped in one. If you don’t give your people time to be together, they’ll have difficulty bonding and working.

36. A recognition program.

Whether it’s a social shout out or an employee of the month parking spot, you have the power to make people feel special. This costs nothing and can MEAN everything.

37. Programs that have defined timelines and goals.

One of the most common reasons for dissatisfaction with one’s work is that in many cases, it seems to never end. If you can give your employees and prospective employees the opportunity to work on something with a defined beginning and end, you may have the opportunity to alleviate some of this discontent.

38. A short commute time.

As listed above, if you have a central location, or are closer than your main competition to the demographic most prevalent in your talent pool, you may even be able to offer slightly less compensation and still beat them at the recruiting game. For many, the hour tacked onto the beginning and end of their day can detract from even the best work-life balance.

39. An easy to access destination.

In many areas, public transit makes for prime office space, but there are other ways to determine if your location is easy to access. Is it handicap accessible? Is it on main transit lines? Is there a bike or walking path? Does your company offer shuttles or ride sharing options?

40. Continuing formal education (tuition reimbursement, internal training, certification support)

41. Continuing informal education (conference stipend, e-course training, book allowance)

42. Reading clubs, cooking classes, technology classes onsite or taught by other employees.

Many people cite having a good or best friend at work as a primary driver of engagement. When potential employees see you have options for broadening their social circle, it makes them sit up and take notice.

43. Lunch n Learns.

People love to learn as much as they love to teach. Not only are lunch n learn sessions beneficial for those attending, they allow employees to take leadership in an area of the company. It teaches presentation skills, it transfers skills across departments, it builds confidence in workers, it creates a flatter learning hierarchy and it gives people a window (and a break) into other parts of the company and tactics used.

44. Willing to hire retirees.

Maybe it won’t turn out exactly like that move the Intern, but chances are, you’ll learn a lot more about human nature and your business than if you hired the next barely able to order a beer intern. Retirees are an overlooked talent pool who can accomplish a lot in less time than you might think. They also have the ability to introduce concepts many consider passé, like confrontation, personal development and goal setting.

45. Willing to hire veterans.

Veteran hiring is (yessss!) becoming more prevalent, but it’s still not as common as one would hope. Veterans are disciplined, well trained, realizable, focused and loyal. What’s NOT to love? Get out of your civilian rut and learn which military skills can (and do!) translate into your workplace.

46. Willing to hire LGBTQ.

It bugs me that this could be a benefit, but that’s the world we live in. If you are not only willing to hire LGBTQ+ but also create a safe workspace for them, you could be miles ahead in the talent game. Like SAHMs, retirees, veterans and more, this group of talented individuals is creative, innovative and (gasp!) probably have the same skills as their heterosexual counterparts. I know right?

47. Willing to hire those without a formal degree.

I dropped out of high school. I made it through college with 2 kids under 2. Tell me again how your degree is important to me. But it’s not just my inferiority complex talking. Many are starting to question whether college degrees and higher education are really the indicators we ought to be looking at.

48. Willing to hire those with a gap in the resume.

Like SAHMs, sometimes life happens. Long illness? Tough divorce? Snap decision to travel the world for a year? How on earth could any of those things make you a bad employee?

49. Offering 5-10-20% time to entrepreneurially minded employees.

Letting folks work on their own projects quells the sense of urgency, ownership and legacy that affects all of us at some point in our career. You don’t have to address it, but you should.

50. Offering a mentoring program and/or volunteer opportunities.

Mentors are incredibly and vastly important. Everyone needs someone to bounce ideas off of. Encouraging your employees to volunteer together to build teamwork skills, create meaning in your workplace and give back to the community.

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Author: Maren Hogan

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