Employee benefits. They’re a major attraction. Poor benefits will make employees look elsewhere. Great benefits will make them think twice about leaving.

What are the top ‘work perks’ or benefits employees want—in addition to salary? As an employer, do you know what they are?

As recruitment experts, we talk to employees daily. And we hear about the benefits that are important to them.

Flexible work hours and schedules

Flexible work hours and schedules are more important for some generations than others.

Certainly, Millennials crave this work perk. Parents usually do too, especially for time-intensive needs like getting the kids to and from school at set times. Parents must also cope with sick kids and school holidays. Most employees have doctor’s appointments and the like.

Many employers feel employees will take advantage of flexible schedules. We don’t believe this is the case. The trick is to communicate to your team what the hours are, and how the system will work, so everyone is clear.

Time off in lieu

Some employees prefer money for extra hours worked, but as recruiters we’re seeing more employees preferring time off—to study, catch their breath or just enjoy life. Once again, communicate the ‘deal’ to your team.

Working from home

This is a big ticket item for many employees.

Some prefer it because it provides ‘quiet concentration time’. Others dealing with a sick family member might not want to be non-productive just because they’re stuck at home. Others may find time saved in travelling to and from work is better spent meeting an important deadline.

Employee assistance program

An employee assistance program is designed to assist employees to resolve personal issues that might be having a negative impact on their ability to enjoy work and perform at the top of their game. Issues commonly include marital strife, other family problems, financial difficulties, overall emotional challenges (like depression or anxiety) and alcohol abuse.

As recruiters, we’ve seen an increase in mental health issues in the workplace over the past five years. Employee assistance programs—usually available to staff and immediate family members—aren’t as expensive as you may think and they can be a great support mechanism, getting employees back on track more quickly.

Upskilling support

Employees don’t like stagnating. They want an employer who supports them to learn, grow and advance their careers.

This isn’t to say employees don’t have some responsibility for their own development, but a workplace with upskilling support embedded into its culture is a valuable workplace.

Incorporate upskilling into personal development and training plans. Actions can be:

  • low cost, like internal mentoring and training
  • moderate cost such as attending a networking event or one-day workshop
  • more expensive—such as paying for a leading-edge conference or longer training opportunity.

Also consider small or one-on-one coaching. Consider subsidising education, as long as subjects being studied are in your sector. Scholarships or tuition reimbursement are important to many employees.

Other ideas to consider

  • Build a culture of promoting from within, to help with staff longevity.
  • Giving additional leave over the Christmas/New Year period.
  • Give birthdays off, as given leave paid.
  • Provide free parking to staff.
  • Pay for gym memberships (full or partially paid).
  • Provide profit share options.

Final thoughts

  1. Embrace work perks for their tremendous value.
  2. Don’t assume you know what employees want. Workshop ideas with your team. You don’t have to implement all ideas, but talking to staff will help you pinpoint relevant ideas.
  3. Be flexible, remembering that different employees will be attracted to different perks.
  4. Remember that work perks are great for business. They’ll set you apart and help you attract and retain top talent.
  5. Highlight your work perks when you interview for new talent.
  6. If you don’t have extra funds for some of the perks listed above, work with your team to find out what you can offer. Small things that don’t cost a lot can go a long way, like recognising staff work anniversaries, giving hand-written thank you cards and gift vouchers to a favourite shop.

Want to learn more?

We regularly post expert recruitment articles for employers and candidates. Read past articles.