Before the Industrial Revolution, work looked quite different than it does today. Generally, people labored the majority of their lives on farms or as craftsmen. And retirement only occurred when they were no longer able to physically perform their responsibilities. However, during the early 20th century, Congress took various steps to encourage older workers to retire and younger ones to step forward. Some of these, like the Social Security Act of 1935, these revolved around benefits which surpassed mere salary or pay. Naturally, this set new expectations for the relationship between employers and employees. And today, many workers expect not only compensation for their time and energy, but various job perks as well. So, companies have to offer the best employee benefits to attract and retain the right talent.
Of course, providing great and magnificent perks can become difficult – especially for startups or smaller organizations. But fortunately, out-of-the-box thinking has provided many alternatives to more traditional options. So, even small companies can afford various perks to make their employees feel appreciated and valued. Here are a few ideas if you want to get started or offer some of the best employee benefits to your workers.
The Best Employee Benefits of 2023
1. Employee Health Insurance
Understandably, not every perk on the list of the best employee benefits represents something new. Because sometimes, help meeting the most basic of human needs is exactly what people need most. Employee-covered healthcare is a perfect example. This benefit dates back at least to the 1940s, if not before. And now, nearly eight decades later, it still stands as one of the most coveted perks of long-term employment. Particularly with the cost of healthcare steadily rising.
Unfortunately, many workers without healthcare have to choose between their physical wellbeing and monetary responsibilities. Because paying out-of-pocket for services simply isn’t possible in many situations. But employees who receive healthcare coverage from their employer can rest assured. Instead of worrying about costs of staying healthy, they have the opportunity to focus on overall wellness. And this greatly decreases anxiety in the workplace. So, employer-covered health insurance still represents one of the best employee benefits companies can offer their dedicated workers.
2. Mandatory PTO
Of course, paid time off from work can easily represents more of a necessity than a privilege. Because there are a multitude of uncontrollable situations that cause employees to take time off. And generally, coupling worry over not being paid for those hours can lead to crippling results. So, whether a worker becomes sick or simply needs a vacation, PTO helps offset this fear. However, some companies have taken this benefit another step forward. Rather than merely offering paid time off, they’ve implemented policies for mandatory time off. That means workers must take off a minimum amount of time each year.
Perhaps this sort of policy seems counterintuitive to some extent. After all, requiring workers to take paid leave means the organization is intentionally paying for no return. At least, it appears that way. But there’s another way to think of mandatory PTO that makes sense. Most people view pay as a direct compensation for time only. Instead, mandatory PTO means the employer is paying for quality work. Because when individuals have the chance to recharge and refresh, they come back encouraged. They thrive because of a safe working environment. And moreover, they often become more efficient and productive in their tasks. So, even though mandatory PTO initially appears counterproductive, the results speak the opposite.
3. Employer-Covered Life Insurance
Beyond healthcare costs, many employees want the reassurance that their families will be taken care of if the worst should occur. That’s why life insurance coverage is another important benefit employers can provide their workers. Especially if those individuals perform dangerous tasks or work in hazardous fields. Generally, employee life insurance policies cover a specific amount, often a multiple of an individual’s yearly salary. So, some might still want to supplement a group policy with a private, individual one. However, any attempt on the part of an employer to provide this sort of assurance stands as one of the best employee benefits. Because doing so helps afford peace of mind to both workers and their loved-ones.
4. Employee Discounts
One of the simplest benefits for any company to provide employees is a company discount. For example, all workers could receive an automatic 10% discount on all purchases made from their employer. Setting up this sort of perk requires minimal effort, since most organizations already have discount pricing structures in place for normal use. In fact, this represents a fair and available option for businesses which don’t necessarily have the means to provide larger benefits. Small businesses, new startups and others of similar scope don’t have to worry about large coverage costs. And ultimately, employee discounts, when used appropriately, shouldn’t cost the organization heavily. All in all, this sort of benefit is one of the simplest ways to express appreciation for staff and the work they put in.
5. Flexible Work Hours
Naturally, the ability of a company to set flexible work hours largely depends on the industry and organization itself. So, the overall company culture will influence whether or not this benefit is appropriate. But for workplaces with the right setup, offering flexible work schedules to employees can represent a great opportunity to build loyalty. And since specifics of flex time can differ, it has the potential to mold to the needs of each organization differently.
For instance, employees could be allowed to fully set their own schedules. Particularly individuals who work largely alone or on projects which don’t require time sensitivity. Alternatively, a basic form flex time might be choosing what time of the day to start or stop. Some forms might incorporate the ability to leave the workplace whenever needed to take care of personal needs. That way, medical appointments, family obligations, and other events don’t conflict with daily work schedules. Naturally, how companies construct flex time must meet organizational needs. Because workers can sometimes take advantage of the opportunity. But when handled correctly, it’s another of the best employee benefits in the modern workplace.
6. Gym Membership Reimbursement
Helping employees maintain their physical health is a reciprocal benefit for organizations and individuals alike. Because healthier workers are, in general, more productive than those who fail to prioritize their wellbeing. Of course, there are different ways companies can promote corporate wellness. But one of the easiest methods is by providing gym memberships. This allows workers an inexpensive option for investing in personal health, but it can also promote team mentality and workplace connections. Because employees can work out together for no cost, strengthening relationships and other important facets. So, like many of the other best employee benefits, gym membership is one which carries an equally positive impact for the company at large.
7. Continuing Education Pay
Particularly in the business world, many employees hold prestigious designations and licenses that require yearly upkeep. For example, CPAs or members of SHRM and HRCI, who have to complete a specific amount of continuing education annually. Unfortunately, the cost of recertification stacks up quickly, and it can easily overwhelm those who fail to plan accordingly. So, company reimbursement for continuing education activities stands as a natural benefit companies can offer employees. After all, the education they receive directly and positively impacts the organization. Especially when workers discover new trends or information that helps them perform their job to the best of their ability. So, it behooves employers to consider this perk. And even if they choose not to fully reimburse workers for these activities, even partial coverage goes a long way.
8. Mental Health Services
Now more than ever, the world has become aware of the importance of mental health in all aspects of life. So, from family matters to other relationships, and even the workplace, taking care of oneself is vital. After all, poor mental health doesn’t respect boundaries. So, someone suffering in their personal life will naturally bring those elements into their work life. As expected, this can negatively impact productivity and overall job performance, leading to further decline in their cognitive state. So, a great option for employers looking to provide better benefits is paying for mental health services. That way, workers have an outlet for taking care of themselves and ensuring their health both in body and mind.
This service could either remain in-house or external, depending on the way a company aspires to structure. However, either way, doing so shows a great deal of care for the person rather than simply the work they can provide.
9. Employee Growth Planning
Crafting employee development plans is an important part of helping individuals get from where they are to where they want to be. After all, most people don’t want to take a stagnant job where they perform the same tasks for forty years. Generally, employees hope to grow into higher positions with better pay and experience. But achieving those goals isn’t always a clear-cut path. Sometimes, it takes a company representative stepping in to map out the way a person needs to go in order to meet those aspirations. So, another benefit any organization can offer is employee growth planning. This helps compile a list of actionable steps individuals can take in order to meet their career goals. And doing so helps further bolster both the individual and organization, since increased capabilities result in direct return.
10. Provide Weekday Lunches
Sometimes, getting up in the morning and slapping together a meager lunch is the last thing tired workers want to do. In a busy schedule, even this simple task can seem to take too much time and effort. So, companies could opt to provide lunch for their workers, either on a daily basis or specific days of the week. Not only does this help employees monetarily, it also affords them the chance to sit down and form stronger bonds with coworkers. It encourages stronger communication and helps inspire a stronger team mentality.
Of course, the ability to do this largely depends on the size and budget of the organization. But the overall positive impact could easily outweigh the cost of the benefit itself. So, company leaders should at least consider this option, even if they ultimately turn it down.
11. Company Work Parties
Particularly after especially strenuous seasons, company work parties represent an opportunity for employees to relax and have some fun. And the best part about them is that the possibilities are endless. From a simple barbecue during work hours to a week spent on a cruise, organizations can map these parties to their needs. Sometimes, opening them up to employees’ families also makes these affairs even more appreciated. And to create a truly memorable experience, employers can poll workers on what they would enjoy most. That way, they can craft something that best meets the expectations of their valued personnel. Sometimes, the best employee benefits are found in the chance to relax and enjoy the company of others.
12. Working from Home
It might be reasonable to suspect that before 2020, fewer people had strong feelings on the topic of remote work. Now, in a post-pandemic world, many employees have had the opportunity to determine their thoughts on the matter. Of course, some loved it while others hated it. And for the former, working from home still stands as a prime employee benefit.
Sometimes, when coupled with flex time, it affords the opportunity to better balance work and home life. It also cuts out the commute time to the office and allows employees to work in relative comfort. In fact, there are plenty of benefits of remote work. So, companies that can afford to do so might consider allowing permanent remote work structures for willing employees. Or, at the very least, adopting a hybrid structure, where a certain number of days per week can be spent working at home.
Naturally, not all organizations can fit remote work into their structure, field, or existing business. But those which can have access to another simple benefit that can help express appreciation for employees’ contributions.
13. Childcare Assistance
Hands-down, one of the most difficult aspects for working parents is figuring out how to afford childcare. Because quality services aren’t cheap. Of course, once children start school, the need decreases somewhat. But for the first four-to-five years, childcare can constitute a major expense. So, companies hoping to inspire loyalty in their employees with kids might opt for childcare assistance.
As with many of the best employee benefits, this could take several forms. For example, they could simply compensate employees the full or partial amount for their child’s existing daycare. Alternatively, they could hire an in-house team to provide childcare services at the place of employment. That allows parents to remain close to younger children while maintaining a productive work schedule. And for older, school-age students, businesses could set up after-school programs. That way, parents don’t have to navigate complicated arrangements for picking students up from school and having someone to watch them before the end of the workday.
Parents with children under age eighteen constitute around 40% of the workforce. So, companies could greatly aid a large portion of workers by focusing on providing for parental needs. And one of the best ways to alleviate pressure is by ensuring quality childcare.
14. Workplace Relaxation Spaces
Taking regular breaks throughout the workday is essential to performing at the highest levels. In fact, Michigan State University notes that they increase focus and overall productivity while relieving stress and strengthening mental health. Taken together, these greatly impact job satisfaction. However, part of quality breaks in an office setting requires having the space to relax, even if momentarily. Sometimes, a quick trip to the water cooler isn’t enough. But a great employee benefit is designating specific spot for employees to recoup mentally during a hard day of work.
Some companies have gone so far as to implement gardening spaces, nap pods, and even on-site massage therapists. But extravagance isn’t the only priority. Sometimes, having patio space outside makes for the perfect getaway. A path around the office building, where employees can take a quick walk helps get blood pumping back to the brain. Realistically, the possibilities could go on and on. But the point remains the same across the board. Designating a place where employees feel free to relax and recuperate during the workday increases productivity while delivering a meaningful benefit.
15. Professional Development Opportunities
One key benefit for employees is providing professional development opportunities, whether in-house or externally. Because doing so allows individuals to hone certain skills the simultaneously increase their individual competencies and value to the company. This can take many forms, from online courses like VTR Learning offers to seminars, training programs, and other methods. Ultimately, helping employees gain essential knowledge and abilities demonstrates trust and appreciation for their existing capabilities. And furthermore, it exhibits that the company views an individual as worthy of investment. Sometimes, this sort of wordless praise is exactly the type of perk an employee benefits from most.
16. Charitable Giving
Believe it or not, some employees would rather forego personal benefits and instead have their employers make donations toward specific causes. In fact, an estimated 88% of Millennials report being more fulfilled when given the opportunity to make a positive societal impact. Of course, this benefit doesn’t necessarily preclude others, such as health insurance. But as an addition to general perks, it stands to increase faith in the company’s ideals and commitment to bettering the world.
How employers handle charitable giving largely differs from one company to another. For example, one organization might allow employees to choose various causes to donate toward. However, others might simply choose a single cause and donate toward it exclusively. But that’s only one example of how this benefit could play out. Each organization has the responsibility of deciding how to handle charitable giving. So, if you’re looking for a way to inspire employees and help a good cause at the same time, consider this benefit.
17. Employee Recognition
Each employee carries different personal and professional needs, and one example is the desire for recognition. Particularly if they’ve handled a difficult project or massive task for the organization. Employee recognition is also one of the simplest benefits to offer, because it should come naturally to worker-centered companies. When someone does an outstanding or exceptional job, they deserve praise. Publicly recognizing that person’s contributions is probably the base-level of what employers can do for them. However, they must also be careful not to recognize every employee for simply performing their tasks as usual. Praise must be reserved for exceptional work, lest it become meaningless.
There are various ways to recognize employees, from sending out special company emails to hosting parties. The options are nearly limitless. So, make sure you publicly acknowledge the hard work and dedication of employees who deserve it.
18. Pet-Friendly Offices
One of the more interesting employee benefits to emerge has been the trend for pet friendly office space. Here, employees are either allowed or even encouraged to bring their pets to work with them. Again, what might initially seem like a distraction could actually provide other advantages for workers. For example, office dogs can:
- Boost morale
- Improve communication
- Encourage healthier lifestyles
- Reduce stress levels
Naturally, this list of potential benefits of pet-friendly offices fails to list every perk. However, it showcases some of the most important. Of course, being pet friendly can also present certain challenges. But when handled correctly, it creates an interesting and helpful work setting.
19. Home Office Expenses
Combined with the option for remote work, an additional benefit employees can offer is reimbursement for home office expenses. This could include Wi-Fi, hardware such as computers and desks, and even snacks. In a sense, some things only make sense for the company to cover. Particularly if the employee has no option other than working from home. However, it also requires close monitoring and reporting. That way, employers can ensure they’re paying for the right things that they’ve pre-agreed to cover.
20. Employee Bucket List Experiences
Another interesting benefit for exceptional employees is company-paid bucket list experiences. Essentially, this means the company pays for certain things an employee has always wanted to do or see. For example, if one individual has always hoped to see Niagara Falls but never had the chance, the company might pay for them to do so as a reward for great work. Naturally, this would change from one worker to another, so the rewards would be highly personalized. But that aspect of it is also what makes it such a unique idea. Rather than generic, across-the-board benefits, it caters to the exact personality and dreams of each person. So, if you’re looking to provide a truly special benefit to an employee, consider doing something of the sort.
21. Points and Rewards Systems
Another possibility for employee benefits centers around allowing workers to choose their own rewards. Often, this happens through a points and rewards system. For instance, workers might earn points for completing projects, working a certain number of hours, or some other factor. Then, when they’ve accrued enough points, they can spend them on different prizes or rewards. These could be gift cards, trips, or other items determined by the employer.
To an extent, this gives employees the opportunity to take ownership over the rewards they receive. So, some individuals might enjoy this format more than other less certain methods of reward. Sites like Tremendous can make it easy to send gift cards to employees from a variety of different stores. But ultimately, how leaders decide to structure a points and rewards system is entirely up to them.
22. Bonus Pay
Sometimes, the simplest rewards can be the most meaningful. Rather than jumping through different hoops, some companies may prefer simply to hand out bonuses for hard work and dedication. Of course, this can couple easily enough with other perks. But in and of itself, bonus pay is generally well received, so long as it’s handled correctly. That said, the amount received should be commensurate for the work and effort put in. If a company wants to recognize an outstanding employee, awarding them $100 might seem like a slap in the face. But offering them $1,000 at the end of the year could make them feel appreciated and recognized.
23. Paid Parental Leave
Unfortunately, paid parental leave is not a staple in the U.S., which makes it one of the best employee benefits. Welcoming a new child into the world is a momentous occasion for all people. And attempting to enjoy that special time with the knowledge of impending work looming heavily overhead can overshadow the joy. Instead, offering paid leave to parents who need to adjust to their new “normal” can greatly endear the company to them. Because it shows that the employers value the importance of family and taking time to be together. Of course, at some point the worker needs to return to work. But offering several weeks to multiple months of time off is a great show of appreciation.
24. Retirement Plans
Of course, few people have hopes to work late into life. Most would enjoy the opportunity to retire and spend a couple decades traveling or being near family. Unfortunately, that isn’t always a possibility in modern society. So, companies that help employees work toward retirement offer a great benefit. This might take the form of 401ks or other assistance programs that put funds toward retirement. Again, how each organization accomplishes this might differ, but the overarching result of retirement security affords great peace of mind.
25. Commuter Reimbursement
As of 2023, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.54. So, for workers who commute to the office on a daily basis, this personal cost can quickly mount into large expenses. Employers who require individuals to come to the office regularly might consider compensating them for the cost of commuting. After all, this puts wear on their vehicles beyond simple fuel prices, which can lead to a shorter lifespan. Particularly if the office is far away from home. Those employees show loyalty and dedication, often giving up both time and money to get where they need to. So, it makes sense that employers would help offset the costs of meeting in-person requirements.
26. Company Equity
One potential benefit companies sometimes offer is a stock in company ownership through equity. In other words, they offer an employee an investment opportunity, so that they have direct interest company performance. This perk sometimes saves money or attracts new talent to the organization. Because it reserves funds for operations and other areas instead of high salary costs. This can result in high cash payouts for employees, particularly those who work as part of successful startups. However, for those hoping for more immediate return, company equity might not represent the best option.
27. Shorter Workweeks
Over the past few years, there’s been quite a bit of talk about four-day workweeks. And while there are plenty of pros and cons, this sort of structure could become a prime benefit. After all, the opportunity for longer weekends affords more time with family, hobbies, and other important activities. Of course, it must fit into the overall work culture and structure in order to be effective. However, so long as it makes sense to do so, implementing shorter workweeks could show greater appreciation for the work individuals perform.
28. Extended Time Off
Essentially, extended time off allows workers the opportunity to take sabbaticals. That way, they have longer periods of time to rest, travel, or pursue other interests without worrying about pay. Moreover, they have the assurance of employment once that period of time is over. So, they don’t have to couple time off with a frantic search for a new job. Of course, extended time off does present certain challenges. Those spots have to be filled temporarily or the person’s duties distributed to other employees. However, it can be a great perk when handled well.
Another similar method for extended time off is simply not capping the amount of vacation time a person can amass. That way, if they ever do want to take a couple months off, and they have the time saved up, they can.
29. Paid Team Outings
A fun alternative perk comes in the form of team activities. They don’t necessarily need to build team strength. But by virtue of people doing enjoyable things together, they naturally should. This might be anything from bowling to a full-fledged weekend getaway. There are countless activities for teams to do together. It largely depends on the budget the company sets for these outings, as well as personal availability. Particularly since most of these outings could happen outside normal work hours. But they’re some of the best employee benefits, because they make memories. And much of the time, they represent a much more vivid and tangible perk.
30. Paid Travel Opportunities
Essentially, this potential benefit falls closely alongside several others, like bucket list experiences and extended time off. However, rather than the company simply compensating the worker during their time off, they go a step further and pay for a trip. That way, great employees, and potentially their families as well, can take time off to travel and explore the world. Like most other perks, there’s a wide range of possibilities inherent in this option. For example, it might mean a simple weekend getaway in the closest “big” city. For other companies, it could be an all-expenses-paid trip to another country for two weeks. The specifics are up to each organization to decide. But regardless, paying for travel is a great way to recognize and show appreciation for hard-working employees.
Learn How to Implement the Best Employee Benefits
We’ve covered thirty of the best employee benefits organizations can offer their workers. However, there are still plenty of other ideas out there. Some recognize hard and dedicated work while others are simply perks of employment, no matter what level or experience. And there are several proven reasons to offer perks. After all, they help draw in new hires, build employee loyalty, and can just be fun to provide.
If you want to know more about organizing events to congratulate workers or show appreciation for their hard work, consider checking out our Leadership courses. It can help spur on new ideas for rewarding and encouraging employees.