Employee perks have evolved far beyond the company car or boozy company away days. Workforces have always been diverse, but in recognising and understanding that all employees are different, the types of perks on offer have changed.
Happier colleagues result in increased wellbeing, improved productivity, fewer sick days, and lower staff turnover, so it makes sense for organisations of all sizes to provide access to benefits and perks.
Here are some of the best employee perks and benefits.
Health and mindfulness
Life is stressful, and with a large portion of the day being spent in a working environment, not everyone has time to look after themselves as well as they could, both physically and mentally.
Some companies have chosen to introduce lunchtime yoga and pilates sessions. These encourage gentle physical movement for those who might be sitting at a desk for a large part of the day. Yoga and meditation can improve focus and concentration while reducing stress through controlled breathing techniques.
Alternative therapies, where employees can choose a treatment of their choice, such as massage or reflexology, can also help staff to unwind.
And some organisations arrange one-to-one wellness sessions for their staff with trained practitioners such as fitness experts and nutritionists.
Supplementing gym memberships, providing an in-office gym or offering company health insurance are other benefits a business may want to consider.
Some businesses provide apps, smart watches or health trackers to teams, adding a wellbeing gamification angle to motivate staff to be active. Those who are most active at the end of each month are rewarded with an additional perk.
For businesses on a budget, stocking the kitchen with healthy snacks, teas, and fresh fruit is a cheap and effective way of keeping employees hydrated and motivated.
Companies may also want to encourage staff to set up sports teams to help them get to know each other better while exercising and having fun.
Giving time back
One of the biggest benefits beyond paid holiday, is being able to offer employees flexible working hours, early finishes, or even a four day work week.
With many staff working from home for the past year or more, having to work in an office, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, is no longer seen as a necessity. With this change, employees can be offered the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world, at times that suit them, providing they are able to meet their contracted hours and personal or team objectives.
Staff who have been employed by the business for a long period of time may feel the need to take some time off from their career. Sabbaticals are a period of time off work taken in addition to the normal annual leave allowance, and are usually offered unpaid. These breaks are usually one to three months, with the employee retaining all benefits (such as increased holiday days) providing the length of service is not broken.
Being able to buy additional annual leave, or trade in unused holiday days gives staff added flexibility when they want to take time off.
Finally, duvet days, where an employee can take an additional paid day off without being absent due to illness, or giving staff time off to enjoy a major event (such as the World Cup), can be a great way to boost satisfaction.
Learning and career development
The premise of a lunch and learn is that employees or invited guests share internal knowledge, or perhaps a skill that is non-work related with colleagues. This can help to bring people together from across different teams and departments - whilst digging into a lunch provided by the business.
Secondment programmes are another way of helping employees with career development. A secondment is a temporary transfer to another area of the business which allows employees to gain first-hand experience in how things operate outside of their primary job role.
For those who want to learn new skills, but can’t afford the costs that come with studying, organisations could consider financing the courses or programmes an employee wishes to attend, or alternatively, pay for subscriptions to online learning platforms.
Bringing people together
Social perks don’t have to be based around alcohol.
Team off-site days or after work meetups to attend a staff BBQ, a comedy club, the theatre, or a team bonding event like an escape room or bowling mean that more people can feel included, without feeling the pressure of having to consume alcohol.
Charitable acts can be team bonding and can give many people a sense of purpose. Encouraging employees to take part in a sponsored run, cycle, or swim or providing a local charity or community resource with some ‘people power’ for the day to paint walls or weed gardens is a great way for employers to ‘give twice’.
Get employees to vote on the activities they would like to do so that everyone has a fair chance to have their say.
Another way of giving employees a sense of belonging is to set up groups based around a shared interest, such as crafting, music, or gaming.
Sometimes, something as simple as setting up a channel outside of usual workplace communications can provide a safe environment for staff to chat and socialise with each other, which is especially important if being in the same location is not possible. This can be done quickly and cheaply by using a web conferencing or community platform.
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