May 23, 2024


Future Depends on What You Do

Unique Job Benefits That Keep Employees Happy

  • Every employee would love a higher paycheck, but sometimes providing a cool job perk can help them feel more motivated and aligned with the business to do better work.
  • Cool job perks can reduce workforce turnover and be a unique selling point to bring in new talented candidates.
  • Make sure that the job perk you plan to offer aligns with your business’ product/service to make it a unique selling point.
  • This article is for key HR decision makers in small to midsize businesses that want to learn more about unique job perks and the benefits of introducing them to their workforce.  

Employee satisfaction is essential to a company’s overall success. That’s why it’s crucial to establish a positive company culture and offer job perks that excite and inspire staff. These incentives also serve to attract top talent to the recruiting process. Satisfaction may depend on the individual, but everyone in a workforce wants to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves and that they are acknowledged for their contributions. Showing appreciation in meaningful ways can help keep a workforce motivated and reduce errors during their day-to-day tasks. A workforce that makes fewer mistakes will also result in less turnover and reduce costs associated with retraining a new workforce.

Unique job benefits that keep employees happy

The reality is that every employee loves a salary increase. However, if that’s not possible, there are other ways to reward workers. Here are 16 impressive employee perks offered by large and small businesses.

1. In-house professional development

graphic of a person giving a presentation on a large screen

Many movies focus on a protagonist who starts as a lower-level employee at a company and dreams of one day becoming CEO. Some big companies offer in-house professional development programs that can make this seemingly fantastical path a reality.

Car rental giant Enterprise, for example, operates a management training program. Trainees are placed at a location near them, move up to airport location management, and from there to possible corporate positions. Enterprise’s professional development program is proven to work. Pamela Nicholson got her start in the program years ago, and she served as the company’s CEO from 2012 to 2019.

2. Massages and yoga

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the office environment and company culture are designed to support employees’ mental and emotional well-being. Unsurprisingly, offices supply healthy food options for the staff. They also have employee perks such as weekly massages and yoga classes available during work hours to ensure that everyone feels comfortable, happy and creative throughout the workday. 

3. Free books

Employees who love to read will be drawn to Penguin Random House‘s Free Book Program. Employees can order multiple books and e-books, free of charge, from a list of more than 100 titles that is updated throughout the year. Employees can also join or form book clubs with their colleagues to discuss plots and practice team-building. 

4. Daily pints of ice cream

graphic of a person eating ice cream surrounded by heart icons

Ben & Jerry’s rewards its employees with three pints of ice cream every day. While this may seem like the opposite of many employer wellness programs and on-the-job offerings of healthy snacks, Ben & Jerry’s employees are popular with their friends and loved ones, with whom they are encouraged to share this daily job perk. Employees also have a say in the names of ice cream flavors, and, of course, boasting rights if their idea is chosen. 

You can also offer these perks to outsourced employees. Check out the best PEO service providers to quickly start leasing employees and outsourcing administrative jobs.

5. No official work hours

Netflix’s job perks include the ultimate take on flexible hours and a fair work-life balance, placing them among the top household-name companies with the best employee benefits. At Netflix’s California headquarters, vacation days and work hours aren’t tracked. The company only measures what people get done; if employees do their work, it doesn’t matter when it’s done or how many hours they spend in the office. 

The company encourages employees of all levels to take time off, including new parents. Netflix doesn’t have formal parental leave policies in place, but claims those on maternity or paternity leave often take four to eight months off. However, that vacation time might not be completely off the clock. “We intermix work and personal time quite a bit, doing email at odd hours, taking off weekday afternoons for kids’ games, etc.,” says Netflix’s “Culture” description. 

6. Plenty of time off

When you work hard, it’s nice to have an employer who lets you play hard, too, like Boston-based Metis Communications. In addition to three weeks of vacation time, staff members get their birthdays off and a bonus vacation week during the last week of December. After you’ve worked for the company for four years, you get a fourth week of vacation every year; after five years of employment, employees are eligible for Friday vacation days in the summer. A proper work-life balance is a hallmark of Metis’ company culture. 

If you are a new business owner who has never managed the benefits of your staff, you can better manage vacation time and payroll with HR software solutions.

[Read Related: Choosing a Professional Employer Organization (PEO)]

7. Family-focused benefits

graphic of two parents with a kid and a baby

Deloitte offers incredible perks focused on parents and parents-to-be. Eligible moms and dads alike can get up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave to bond with new babies after birth or adoption. The leave can also be used to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling or parent with a serious health condition. Eligible employees can even be reimbursed for up to $25,000 of expenses related to adoption or surrogacy. 

8. Onsite health services

In addition to standard health insurance benefits, Steelcase takes care of its employees’ health at the office. The design and manufacturing company has an onsite well-being hub where employees can make appointments with a massage therapist or registered nurse. The company also offers “healthier home meal” ingredient stations in its cafeterias where employees can prep a meal to cook at home instead of visiting a drive-through after work. Steelcase also hosts Curious Minds, a series of lectures on topics like personal wellness and eldercare. 

9. Mental health support

Capital One Financial is another company that cares for its workers’ well-being, including their mental health. The company’s employee assistance program provides counseling services, either in person or by phone, as well as informational services to help with big changes like moving or having a baby. 

10. Continuing education

As the cost of higher education continues to rise beyond what many people can afford, companies are offering tuition assistance as a perk of employment. At Starbucks — known for having some of the best employee benefits among household-name American companies — full- and part-time benefits-eligible employees can take advantage of the company’s college achievement plan to earn a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program, with full tuition reimbursement. 

In 2017, Starbucks expanded the plan with its new Pathway to Admission Program, which gives academically ineligible employees another chance to qualify. ASU support specialists work with employees to help them qualify by identifying which courses they need. They can then take up to 10 freshman-level courses tuition-free as many times as needed. 

11. Student loan paydowns

For employees who already have a degree, student loans can eat into their paycheck for years. That makes companies like PwC, which provides help paying down student loan debt — a job perk similar to tuition reimbursement — especially attractive. PwC offers its employees $100 per month, or a total of $1,200 a year, toward student loan debt. The benefit is available for up to six years. Factoring in interest, this perk can help employees save up to $10,000. 

12. Midday surfing

graphic of a person surfing

Outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia encourages its employees to stay physically active. The California-based company provides bikes, volleyball courts and onsite yoga for its workers. In a unique take on the concept of flexible hours, employees are encouraged to catch a wave or two in the middle of the workday: The reception desk posts daily surf reports and makes company wide announcements on especially good surf days. 

13. Giving back

Multiple studies have shown that workers, especially those in the millennial generation, value brands and employers that emphasize doing good in the world. That’s why companies like tech behemoth Google — a brand that has long led the field of big-name companies with the best employee benefits — are making their own contribution to employees’ volunteer efforts. Google not only matches employees’ monetary charitable contributions, but for every five hours of volunteered time, Google donates $50 to that nonprofit. 

14. Office parties

At San Francisco-based music app developer Smule, employees can bring their instruments to the office for the company’s weekly jam sessions. The company also throws various holiday parties, including a Halloween costume party, Thanksgiving lunch, Wednesday game nights and monthly karaoke party.

“Expression through talking, playing and exploring are habits that help us create something great,” said Jeff Smith, Smule’s co-founder and CEO. “People come by and talk to me or play instruments in my office all day. It’s part of our culture.”

15. Freedom (and funding) to travel

graphic of a person with luggage at an airline ticket counter

Travel booking company HotelTonight gives employees the chance to travel for free or enjoy hotel credits. HotelTonight employees have a chance to win an impromptu free vacation through monthly “spin-the-wheel” events, and they are also eligible for flexible vacation time, which lets them experience the HotelTonight app and stay in partner hotels. 

16. A pet-friendly environment

Love your four-legged friend like a child? So does PetSmart, which offers employees a variety of pet-related benefits. In addition to a 15 percent employee discount on pet-related merchandise and grooming, PetSmart employees get other job perks such as free training classes and discounted veterinary services. And if you don’t want to leave your dog at home, you may be able to bring them to work with you. 

Dogtopia is another pet-friendly workplace. Employees can partake in the brand’s personal wellness programs that can be used toward doggie daycare and vet visits. Employees who don’t have pets can still put this perk to use by applying it toward gym memberships and healthy snacks and lunches. “We made sure everyone can get some benefit from the fund since not everyone in our office has a pup,” said Toni Teplitsky, Dogtopia’s director of marketing.

Why cool job perks matter

The benefits listed above are some of the many unique and cool job perks that a business can provide to their staff. Speak to your current workforce and learn their priorities to help design a list of perks that everyone can benefit from. Some of the perks listed above align well with the company’s product/service, and having a cool perk can be a unique selling point for bringing in new and talented staff.

Consider the alignment of the perk with your business model. Cool job perks can reduce turnover for your business, which is crucial to reduce the costs associated with training. Interesting job perks can also lead to a more engaged workforce, which can result in more harmony towards the company’s financial goals.

Perks keep employees — and your bottom line — happy

Creating a new job perk for your current workforce will motivate them if it aligns with their needs and priorities. You should see a more engaged workforce once the new job perk is implemented. Talk to your current workforce before administering a new perk — if the perk isn’t a high priority for your current workforce, it will not provide as much of an impact.

Perks that keep employees happy will reduce employee turnover and the costs associated with new hiring. A new job perk can also bring in extremely qualified talent who also prioritize that perk in their job search. Leverage your best job perks to keep current and future employees happy.

Tejas Vemparala and Max Freedman contributed to this article.