The New Perks: What Employees Want Today
Workplace perks have evolved beyond traditional health care benefits and vacation time. Today, employees want more of a work-life balance and ask for perks that will enhance their quality of life in and outside of the office.
For example, a study sponsored by Oxford Health Plans, Inc. found that if employers offer a membership to a health club as a perk, 72 percent of employees will use it. Employees are also taking advantage of what was once considered unconventional perks -- massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, etc. In fact, the study reports that these "alternative" perks have become mainstream, and that 60 percent of employees surveyed use these perks frequently.
Another bonus that appeals to employees is the option to bring a pet to work. Both male and female employees took advantage of this perk. At least 55 percent of men would use this benefit, as well as 49 percent of women.
"These perks should no longer be considered alternatives but mainstays since they're well accepted among workers and demonstrate an employer's commitment to promoting wellness in the workplace," says Alan Muney, M.D., the chief medical officer and executive vice president at Oxford, in a press release.
"It's especially important for employers to think about this now, at a time of year when employees often have the option of changing their benefit choices," Muney adds.
Here's a list of the newer perks that employees seek in a new job, according the education blog, KelloggForum.com:
It's no longer enough to have a good job. Employees want a good office environment.
- Greater flexibility -- Innovations include flextime, which allows workers to set their own hours (10-6, 8-4, 10-hour workdays and Fridays off et cetera), half-day Fridays and the option to telecommute (work from home, generally over a modem).
- Food and drink -- All the rage in the Internet industry - employees get free food, drink, and sometimes even beer.
- Facilities -- In many larger office complexes, employees have access to ATMs, dry cleaning services, on-site child care, concierge services, hair stylists and the like. Games such as foosball and air hockey have also become fairly common, another vestige from the dot.com boom (ingenious employers realized that by conceding one hour of playtime, they could justify expecting their workers to put in 12-hour days).
- Casual dress -- Spend less money on suits, and less time getting dressed in the morning.
- Commuting expense reimbursement -- Get back the money you spend on gas, mileage and mass-transit passes. This is a tremendous benefit.
- Vacation time - Obviously, the more the better. Ironically, the surest way to increase productivity is to offer plenty of vacation time. While Americas don't quite grasp this notion, the Europeans have it down to a science.
- Holidays - The more recognized, the better. Plus, many companies offer two or more "floating holidays," which are essentially vacation days workers can use to (wildly) celebrate criminally unrecognized holidays, like Flag Day.
- Sick/personal days - Again, the more, the better. If at all possible come to work when you're sick so you don't have to waste precious sick days in bed oozing various salty fluids.
- Sabbaticals - These aren't very common, especially for lower-level workers. Essentially, you can take leave (generally unpaid) with the guarantee of a job when you return.
- Tuition reimbursement/discounts to cultural events - It behooves a company to keep its employers well rounded and inquisitive. One way to ensure this is through adult education (job-specific or otherwise) and discounted admission/memberships to museums, theaters et cetera.