Employees may look forward to payday, but that's not the only reason they fight traffic, fatigue, and office politics to get their jobs done on a daily basis. Another reason is the company "perk," and the more perks and privileges they can collect, the more motivated they'll be on the job.
Studies back that notion up. A 2015 report from Genesis Associates, U.K.-based professional recruitment firm shows that 85% of employees surveyed said they were "more motivated" to produce on the job if the company offered incentives that went beyond a paycheck. Additionally, 73% of workers said their workplace environment was either "good" or "very good" if company perks were in play. Employers benefit, too. Company perks also boosted a company's overall profits by approximately $123,600 per week, Genesis reported.
With employee productivity - and employer profits - in mind, which perks do staffers want most? Try these ten perks on for size.
Who wouldn't want a calming, soul-cleansing meditational experience to wash the anxiety away in the workplace? Turns out, many people do. "A top perk that people love and get productivity benefits out of are mediation sessions," says Lu Chen, senior director of growth marketing at THINX, a maker of "taboo-breaking" period underwear. "Some of our employees take a meditation break in a middle of a day." Chen says there's a good reason for that, all around. "When you see there's a demand for a quiet space to relax and re-center, you can start organizing it into a formal program where more employees can enjoy the perk," she explains.
In interviews with numerous staffers and managers, a common "perk" refrain was for flexible schedules. "It's our No. 1 pick," says Corey Bray, CEO and founder of LegalNature, a legal services firm in San Francisco. "As long as they get their work done, we allow the employee to work from home a certain number of days per week." Bray says employees "love" being able to work remotely once a week or so, they don't have to worry about commuting or even wearing pants. "It also instills confidence in the employee and shows a certain amount of trust, which benefits the company," he adds.
Another popular perk request - parental leave programs for special circumstances, like the birth of a child or family illness. According to a recent TD Bank Family First Survey, 66% of parents believe that an employer's parental leave policy is important when choosing an employer. In addition, the aspects of parental leave policy most important to parents are getting paid by their employer during leave (36%) and job security when returning to work (35%), TD Bank reports. Employees also view "bonding with a new child" (69%) as the biggest benefit to a family leave policy. "The first thing most employees ask for is whether we provide health coverage or not or paternal paid leave," says David Kosmayer, founder of Bookmark Website Builder Inc., in Toronto. While Kosmayer calls such policies "very expensive," he thinks "it's something every company should provide for its employees."
Danica Kombol, founder of Everywhere Agency Everywhere, a social media marketing firm in Atlanta, says the top perk request at her workplace is a "dog-friendly' office. "Being able to bring their pooches to the office is critically important to my Millennial employees," she says. "We even have a doggy calendar where staffers list which dog is coming on which day." This perk is a benefit to Kombol, as well. "Team-members are more productive and having fur-babies around makes for a better work environment," she says.
Max vacation time is a perk that's "highly attractive" to workers, notes Zip Recruiter, an online employment marketplace platform, in response to questions for this slideshow. "The benefit of this perk entrusts employee to take off as much vacation as needed, as long as the work still gets done," the company states. Zip Recruiter also offers "baby bonding" leave and 100% paid health benefits - perks the company feel it needs to keep staffers happy and productive. "Overall, we're finding the new perks are just more flexible versions of previous employee benefits," the company states. "Giving the employee option to choose whatever program works best with their current state of their life is important to fostering loyalty with the company."
Offering opportunities for coaching and career development is a big perk request these days, says Tamara Cooksey, vice people of people operations at BetterWorks, a 100-person startup based in Redwood City, Ca. "New recruits and hires care very deeply about the opportunity for career development and they want an opportunity for them to learn, grow and move up the ladder," Cooksey says. "They see opportunities for continuing education, feedback, coaching, among other issues, as perks." Yes, free lunches and flexible hours have become table stakes, but in Cooksey's personal experience, employees "care more about their career development and future opportunities to work on what they're passionate about."
The top perks for Millennials, who will be the majority of America's working population by 2020, is continuing education, "although they may define that term in different ways," explains Flynn Zaiger, owner of Online Optimism, a New Orleans-based digital marketing agency. "The good news for employers is that there are many ways to incorporate continuing education for staff, but For my company, the best way is letting the employees choose how they get their education," Zaiger notes. This means providing staff with a budget they can use on anything that increases their abilities to do tasks related to their job, Zaiger says. "Attending luncheons for networking groups in their industry? Perfect," says Zaiger. "Save up to attend an out of town convention? Sure. Buy e-courses that promote new skills? No problem. By empowering your staff to grow, you'll keep them loyal to your organization for many years to come."
Daniel Tummeley, an account coordinator at Uproar PR, a public relations agency in Winter Haven, Fla., says the top perk at his firm is its "half day Friday" initiative. "This allows employees to go home at 1 p.m. every other Friday," Tummeley explains. "Employees enjoy this perk the most, because it allows them to enjoy a longer weekend." He says the "main benefit" of having a half-day Friday is that it allows the employees to know that their happiness is a priority. "It has also provided a spike in productivity which has been valuable for the entire firm," he adds. "With the right structure, it's definitely something that companies can practice."
Another product of the tech-savvy Millennial generation is the "work from anywhere" employee movement - even if team members are thousands of miles away. "Being in the internet industry allows a certain freedom that our and many of our peer firm's employees expect," says Steve Hammer, founder of RankHammer, a digital search and marketing agency in Dillon, Colo. Since the internet allows people to work from anywhere, employees fully expect that they should be able to be anywhere, Hammer points out. "With tools like Slack, Asana and video chat it's nearly free to stay connected," he says. "We're in a billable world, so spending time on the road is simply wasted. We save money by not needing office space, and the employees get to live where they want and have a zero commute."
According to Kristen Kenny, vice president of people and talent at CarGurus, in Cambridge, Mass., "by far the favorite perk" for employees is no-cost catered meals. "At CarGurus we provide our employees with a lot of perks - gym memberships, commuter benefits, happy hours, complementary iPads and many more - but by far the favorite is the daily free catered lunches from local restaurants," Kenny states. "Not only does it offer cost savings and convenience to our employees, but it gives them a chance to take a break in our café and engage with their peers." Kenney says the firm has grown to over 400 employees in the past year, and free lunches "gives everyone in the office the opportunity to unwind and catch up with members of other departments." Kenny also says it's "rare" for a company of CarGurus size to offer a perk like free meals. "But being a technology company in Boston, where there's a lot of competition for the top technical talent, it's a great way for us to stand out and show that we have a great company culture and unmatched employee perks," she says.