If you want to attract the best employees and retain them, you need to think about what benefits you’re going to offer them. Creating a competitive employee benefits package can be challenging, especially for a small company, but it can make all the difference in creating a favorable working environment.
Let’s explore some of the best employee benefits schemes being run by some of the biggest companies around.
1. Workplace flexibility
The traditional 9 to 5 workday does not necessarily represent the best working window for all employees. It does not take into account the fact that humans are unable to concentrate for more than 90-120 minutes without taking a 20-30 minute break and it doesn’t allow for any flexibility. Letting your employees manage their own work schedule to make their lives easier does not cost you money.
Of course, the amount of flexibility companies allow will depend on the nature of their business. Companies who implement more flexibility find that employees given this option tend to be more productive.
Some companies stipulate that employees work a certain number of hours but allow them to create their own schedule. Others allow them to work when they choose, as long as they complete quality work on time. Swiss Re, a leading global reinsurer, has an “Own The Way You Work” program, that empowers employees to embrace more flexible working models. The program is all about creating meaningful discussions about the best ways to get a job done, taking account of non-traditional working methods that respect team and individual needs.
2. Fitness stipends and wellness programs
Many employees regard medical coverage as one of the most important benefits, and this is why most employers offer it. However, many companies are now looking beyond medical coverage and focusing on building a company culture of health and fitness, so their workforce remains healthy and productive.
Reebok International Ltd., Nike, and other sports apparel giants are helping their employees get in shape with fitness-related benefits. Their offerings include on-site gyms, yoga and CrossFit classes, bike rides and more.
Companies like ZenPayroll, Eventbrite, and Microsoft offer fitness or wellness stipends to help cover the cost of fitness programs and gym membership.
3. Parental leave
Many companies offer fully paid leave to new mothers, but not as many offer the same benefit to new fathers. Amex is a company that offers up to five months of full paid leave for both mothers and fathers. The company has also increased employee benefits to include adoption, lactation, surrogacy and reproduction services.
Mothers have access to a board-certified lactation consultant and mothers who have to travel for business can ship their breast milk home free. Expectant parents have access to a parent concierge who helps them to understand parental leave and the programs and resources available to them.
Facebook gives four months of paid parental leave to full-time employees. It believes that new fathers and mothers alike deserve support when they are starting a family
Amazon offers Leave Share for new parents – allows employees to share paid leave with their partner if the partner’s company does not offer paid leave. Their Ramp Back program gives new moms more control over how they re-enter the workplace.
4. Family Care Programs
Larger companies often offer family care programs, but smaller companies are more restricted by budgets. This does not mean they can’t find alternatives. One of the most popular forms of family care is child care. This can help reduce stress and help employees stay focused on their work.
The important issue is to show that you care for your employee's families. If you’re a smaller company, you could offer something as simple as allowing for more personal days off in the event of a family emergency.
Danny Morgan, a graphic designer by profession, says “My wife had serious health problems and my employers allowed me to work from home full time until she recovered. I won’t ever forget what they did for me.”
Many large companies offer on-site amenities for employees, including childcare centers. Some companies, like Ikea, have lactation rooms for new moms.
Scripps Health offers pet health insurance, so even the furry family members receive good care. Glassdoor named the company as one of the top employers in the nation for the benefits it offers employees.
5. Vacation and paid time off
Most companies offer at least some paid time off (PTO) in their employee benefits package. A common time period granted to full-time employees is about ten days, and this may increase after employees stay with a company for a certain length of time.
Some fast-growing, large companies are adopting unlimited paid time off policies, which many companies would consider risky. HubSpot and Netflix are two of the companies that trust their employees to consider what’s best for the company, their work and themselves and to take time off as they need. These companies have found that this benefit empowers their employees and motivates them to work harder.
6. Education Assistance
Employee development is important and can have a long-term effect on your employees and your company – producing employees that are loyal to your company for assisting them and giving them the education necessary to grow within the company.
Completing a degree can increase employees' chances of getting promoted. A risk is that employees may leave the company when their education is complete – this is why some companies require that an employee stays with the company for a certain number of years after completion of a degree.
Bigger companies, such as Starbucks, offer tuition assistance to their employees for completing degrees. Smaller companies may not be able to do this, but they may still be able to afford giving employees opportunities to network or to do online courses. As long as you’re offering some educational assistance, it will be appreciated.
7. Free food
If you offer your employees healthy free food, you will contribute to their productivity. The way their bodies are fueled and hydrated have a direct bearing on their energy levels, their ability to focus and their long-term health. Providing food and beverages also involves more interaction with employees.
Employees at Glassdoor headquarters in Mill Valley, CA enjoy free lunch on a daily basis. They say this benefit may sound trivial, but it really makes a difference to them, saving time on making food and packing it every night.
Another company offering great healthy lunches to employees is CoverMyMeds, a healthcare tech company. The company has an in-house chef who makes healthy lunches every day. Employees also benefit from bottomless coffee, soda, beer, water, and snacks.
Even if you can’t offer free meals, think about having a selection of fruit, yogurt, granola bars, nuts and beverages available.
If you’re in the food business, you could offer discounts or free meals to employees. Food could also be used as an incentive for hard work – a free meal at a restaurant for completing a project on time or a gift card to a favourite eatery.
A study done by Fractl, a leading content marketing company, found employees placed a high value on benefits such as flexible hours, work-from-home options and more paid vacation time. Better health insurance was on top of the list, and student loan and tuition assistance came sixth. The survey also found that certain benefits were able to win over job seekers faced with higher paying offers but fewer advantages.
Lose It! is a company with a mission of helping people to achieve a healthy weight and it offers its employees great benefits and perks. They have all the standard benefits such as a 401(K) plan and health insurance, but it’s the lifestyle benefits that set the company apart. Gym membership stipends, flexible paid time off, parental leave, transportation passes and a four-day workweek in summer are just some of the reasons employees love working for this company.
Remember when considering benefits that employees’ happiness is what affects their productivity most. This is the reason why big companies are offering benefits that create a more favorable working environment.