With unemployment rates at a 50-year low, employers are starting to offer more to their employees than a cost of living increase to attract, retain, and reward their talent. Many are taking their cues from 100 Best Companies lists and tech companies, which often offer a dizzying array of perks. Some have become a bit punchline, like ping pong tables and bean bags, but many perks add tangible meaning and fun to office culture, and boost employee engagement. In fact, perks are often the things employees tout as the best part of working for their employers (beyond pay, flexibility, and growth opportunities).
However, the costs of running a business are high and salaries are often one of the biggest buckets of expense. So how do you provide meaningful and inclusive perks that don’t break the bank?
I’ve outlined a slate of options that I’ve seen clients offer to their employees. Some were so great we couldn’t resist the opportunity to implement them internally at Boly:Welch! While these are just examples, I hope they spark ideas for creative ways you can show your employees you value them, and improve your employee engagement. Offering more benefits can do wonders for your retention rates and team morale!
Health & Wellness
- Nap Room, or dedicated room for employees to relax and recharge. Bonus if there is a white noise machine, weighted blanket, and essential oil diffuser
- Coverage for alternative medicine, including acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic services
- Free CPR certification offered every two years
- On-site massages, either employer-sponsored or by the minute
- On-site flu clinic (with lollipops!)
- Standing desks and ergonomic chairs and stools
- Access to gyms, on-site yoga classes, or discounts to local studios and fitness centers
- Generous support for environmentally-friendly transit, such as walking, biking, carpooling, and TriMet passes
- Dedicated wellness teams with the budgets to sponsor challenges with prizes: a steps challenge, healthy bake-offs, plastics-free challenge, etc.
- Bring-Your-Children-to-Work policies, particularly infant-specific policies to allow bonding and breastfeeding or the holy grail of working parents – on-site childcare
- Added amenities in lactation rooms, including massage chairs, mini fridges, and aromatherapy
- Stipend for holiday travel or vacations – one company offered employees $1000 to spend on a vacation
- Celebrations for the big moments – wedding showers, baby showers, and retirements
- Extra money and time-off in addition to paid parental leave
- Bring-Your-Dog-to-Work policy
- Pet bereavement and adoption leave
- Adoption and pet insurance discounts
- Sponsored Hood to Coast or other athletic team events, including dodgeball, soccer, kickball, and more!
- Charitable giving and volunteer hour matching program
- Discounted lift tickets to Mt. Hood
- Tickets to local events, including concerts, sporting events, plays, wine tastings and beer-fests
- Monthly team lunches and book clubs
- Access to Rosetta Stone, for improving language skills
- In-house seminars and trainings
- Lending libraries
- A LinkedIn Learning account
- A yearly stipend toward learning, training, and development
- Assistance with career planning, including identifying stretch projects, educational opportunities, conferences, mentorship programs, and tuition allowance
Lighten the Load
- Employee resource assistance programs, such as a concierge service that manages everything from party planning to scheduling repairs
- On-site dry cleaning delivery service
- Discounts at local retailers (Nike, Adidas, Columbia) or support local Oregon B Corps with gifts for your employees
- Cell phone or other device reimbursement and monthly discounts
- Internal mentorship programs that pair senior level employees with new hires
Food & Drinks
- Weekly breakfasts, monthly lunches, quarterly salad bars – all free meals are appreciated
- Tea and coffee bar – and annual taste tests to select new offerings!
- Kombucha, water, kefir, or beer on tap
- Healthy snacks and treats
- Baking contests
- Annual Costco membership
- Spring Break – an annual themed week of celebration and fun. Some ideas: free movie passes for use during work hours only, snack and candy table, scavenger hunts or lawn game style-competitions, catered lunches, and a secret activity to cap off the week
- Annual celebrations: picnics, bike rides, Halloween costume contests, Turkey Bowls (bowling and turkey door prizes), white elephant parties, holiday breakfasts
- Office parties. While they can get a bad rap for being awkward, a theme, surprises, and great food and drinks keep them highlights
- Lunchtime concerts, film screenings, field trips to the Oregon Historical Society and Portland Art Museum, gallery openings, or other cultural gems
- Company trips, including to locations like Hawaii and Mexico
- Time – the gift that keeps on giving! We especially appreciate the time to volunteer, birthdays off, and full office closures during the holiday season
- Summer Fridays! Many companies give employees half-days on Fridays from Memorial Day through Labor Day
- Flexible schedules, including multiple start-times, ability to work remotely, and compressed workdays
- The biggest perk of all – the sabbatical!
While no company can offer every perk, it’s important for companies to talk to their employees and listen to the perks that will benefit and excite them the most. And it’s equally important for companies to make the effort to continually improve their office environment, which directly impacts your employee engagement. The market will only get more competitive – companies that want to thrive and grow must go above and beyond to show they value their employees.