Best work perks: Increase employee engagement and job satisfaction

September 15, 2022

The perks your company offers can make or break an employee’s experience and play a huge role in retention. In fact, four in five employees want perks or benefits more than a pay raise, according to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey.  

Since your employees’ work-life balance and satisfaction are impacted by the type of perks you offer, it’s not something to overlook—especially in today’s business climate where companies are struggling to find workers despite global economic uncertainty.  

Now is as good a time as ever to evaluate your company handbook to see where you can upgrade your employee perks. It all starts with putting the “human” back in human resources.  

What is a work perk? 

First, it’s important to understand what a perk isn’t—a perk isn’t a benefit. Benefits are things like health coverage, paid time off or sick leave—and in many countries, they’re mandated. Perks are non-wage offerings determined by employers to be given to employees. A perk should be something that makes employees feel valued and improves their work-life balance.  

Perks can generally be categorized into four buckets:  

  1. Convenience 

  1. Career-related 

  1. Personal/home-life 

  1. Community and contribution 

Understanding what perks are and categorizing them helps you be more thorough and thoughtful about the types of perks you offer. It can be easy to get caught up in popular, inexpensive, impersonalized perks—think office ping-pong tables or kegerators—but those often don’t have the lasting impact that thoughtful, personalized perks have on employees.  

Beyond thinking through how perks fall within each category, it’s helpful to keep in mind their purpose and impact on employees, as well as the cost to the organization as a whole.  

Impact and need 

Start by surveying your employees. What kinds of perks would they value? Whether it’s in line with what you're thinking—or entirely different—it’s important not to make assumptions. You won’t know until you ask. Understanding what your employees' value will help you offer more personalized perks.  

A great example of listening to employees is the company Klowt. Founder Amelia Sordell realized her employees weren’t utilizing their benefits and perks: unlimited holiday, unlimited books from Amazon and unlimited learning. Instead, she introduced 30 days’ paid holiday, £100 toward monthly commuting costs, £45 toward monthly well-being costs, and £10 toward monthly home Wi-Fi bills because that’s what the employees wanted. 

Related: Why giving your workers what they want wins their loyalty 

Cost 

It's also useful to create a perk budget—how much can your organization spend to support perks? While it can be hard to put a number on employee satisfaction and work-life balance, remember that offering perks will lead to cost savings for your company and numerous benefits—increased employee productivity and retention to name a few.  

At the end of the day, engaged and satisfied employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work. According to Gallup’s employee engagement survey, “Highly engaged business units realize an 81% difference in absenteeism and a 14% difference in productivity."  

How could these numbers affect your business for the better? What are some perks your multinational business can offer to increase employee engagement? 

Best work perks? Here are some examples 

As you begin to evaluate specific perks, it’s more beneficial to spell out specific perks that could fall into each of the four categories: Convenience, career-related, personal/home-life, and community and contribution. 

1. Convenience 

These types of perks save employees time and add a level of comfort to their lives. For in-office employees, this could be: 

  • Coffee and catered lunches 

  • Snacks (unhealthy and healthier options) 

  • Bringing in personal well-being services, such as manicurists, massage therapists or hairdressers (sometimes this is still paid for by the employee but saves them time) 

  • Paid parking near the office covered 

For employees who work remotely, this is a convenience perk in and of itself. It saves employees time and money spent commuting. But other convenience perks for remote workers could include food delivery gift cards, laundry or dry-cleaning pick-up, or a home office stipend.  

2. Career-related 

These perks involve continuing education and career development and can include: 

  • Tuition stipends 

  • Paid online training 

  • Conferences and seminars 

  • Professional organizations  

  • Book programs (in-office library or store credits) 

  • Mentorship programs 

Career-related perks help keep employees engaged and motivated. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a job longer if they were offered pathways for career development. Further proving that this kind of work perk is highly valued by workers. 

3. Personal/home-life 

These are perks your employees can utilize outside of the office. They can provide a better work-life experience and overall job satisfaction for your employees. Work-life balance is always top of mind for current employees and potential ones—in fact, 83% of millennials consider work-life balance to be the most important factor in evaluating a potential job. 

Related: Work-life balance, evolved 

The increased job satisfaction and feeling of value that comes from personalized perks only increase retention and productivity, as an engaged and happy employee is incredibly more productive.  

Some perks in this category include: 

  • Gym stipends or gym memberships 

  • Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs) which give employees a set amount to spend each month on things like gym memberships, books, etc. This is a more personalized approach as some employees may not value exercise, for example, and can utilize these funds elsewhere. The company can decide on categories in which these funds can go to 

  • Mental health and wellness benefits  

  • Summer Fridays, when employees are encouraged to end work early on Fridays during the summer, or even take occasional Fridays off  

  • Mental health days, in which the entire workforce takes days off to refresh. For example, LinkedIn and Hootsuite are along some of the bigger names who have randomly offered their employees an entire week off to focus on mental health and improve morale 

  • Pregnancy loss leave for families—if it’s not already a required law in said country. With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, this shouldn’t be overlooked. Your employees will feel valued and have time to recoup and refresh before returning back to work—and giving partners time off allows them to also offer support and mourn.  

  • Paid sabbaticals or travel stipends after serving the company for a certain amount of time. For example, Airbnb provides employees $2,000 a year for a travel allowance.  

  • Unlimited or flexible PTO that’s truly supported by the company culture  

4. Community and contribution 

Employees want to feel like they’re a part of a team working toward a common goal. Outside of work, this could include contributing to different organizations or participating in team-building and bonding activities. 

Examples of specific perks include: 

  • Company-sponsored sports league 

  • In-office yoga 

  • Happy hours 

  • Volunteering opportunities or time off for volunteering at charitable causes 

However, the best work perks can vary by location  

For companies with an international workforce, it’s important to remember that perks might not translate across the globe. What someone values and needs in London, for example, might not be the same as someone in China. For example, higher-income countries such as France and Germany enjoy shorter workweeks than middle-income or even developing countries.  

This is why it’s so important to survey your global workforce and check in to see what they value and need. Offering personalized perks based on geographic location will play a huge role in helping you retain your top talent and attract new, top talent because it’s in line with what they value in said country.  

Build a perks program that reinforces your company’s culture 

Some companies follow what’s trendy when it comes to the types of perks they offer—e.g., everyone is offering cold brew on tap, so we should, too; or everyone is offering unlimited PTO, so why don’t we? 

But building your company’s perks program—or shaking it up—should be thoughtful and intentional. Your company perks also shouldn’t be a “set and forget it” type of policy. The pandemic is a perfect example of this, as employees began to think about what mattered most, and sought out companies that offered the perks they valued.  

The 2022 Microsoft Work Trend Index, which examined why frontline workers have recently been leaving their jobs in record numbers uncovered that what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return has fundamentally changed—and Microsoft calls this The Employee Worth It Equation.  

“This study shows that 47% of respondents say they are more likely to put family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic. In addition, 53%—particularly parents (55%) and women (56%)—say they’re more likely to prioritize their health and wellbeing over work than before the pandemic,” according to Forbes. Frontline workers are just some of many workers closing the door on outdated business ideals and instead looking ahead in hopes of finding companies that align with their values and prioritize their health and wellbeing. 

At the end of the day, your perks program should reinforce your company’s values and purpose. If one of your company’s values is learning, then ensure you offer perks that align with it. Or maybe you value family—well, what perks are you offering to reinforce work-life balance and family culture? 

At Safeguard Global, for example, our vision is to transform the way people work around the world. To further promote this, we’ve adopted a people-centric and flexible approach to hiring that we refer to as Work in Any Way. This involves giving our employees the flexibility to work in a way that is most productive for them and their team as a whole. 

This perk allows our employees to feel empowered, trusted and valued by us while also widening our talent pool—we can hire people beyond borders because they aren’t bound to offices or the typical 9-5. This approach also allows us to attract and retain top talent. It informs the decisions we make to improve our employee’s work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.   

Want to learn more about how we can help you implement a flexible hiring and perks approach? Learn more about Work in Any Way or contact us today.  

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