Workplace benefits are often some of the top reasons workers choose to stay at a company. Health insurance, paid time off and sick days rank high on that list, but there are a number of other relatively cost-effective benefits employers could offer. In fact, according to the Society of Human Resources Management, 35 percent of HR staff said their employers had increased benefits offered between 2014 and 2015.These advantages could also operate as employee engagement ideas.
Health and fitness benefits
Many workplaces provide benefits that encourage employees to stay fit. As an added plus for your company, it may be able to reduce health care benefit costs, SHRM noted. One common way to approach fitness is to reimburse staff for a portion of their gym memberships. You can also opt to have a small fitness center onsite for staff to use. Some companies take this one step further and include coaching and training in the package as well.
Education and professional development
The opportunity to gain new skills and build up their resumes is invaluable to many employees. Employers may offer flexible scheduling for employees who might be pursuing a degree. For Starbucks' College Achievement Plan, the coffee chain partnered with Arizona State University to provide eligible staff free college tuition toward their Bachelor's degree. It's also important to invest in professional development for staff, for instance, by paying for certifications and training.
Traveling long distances to work, whether by car, rail or public transportation, adds up considerably. Why not reimburse workers for fees associated with travel? This perk also widens the talent pool by providing an incentive for more people to apply even if they live relatively far away. In addition, according to Entrepreneur, payroll taxes don't apply because commuter benefits are "tax-free transportation fringe benefits."
Vacation time is a ubiquitous office benefit, but some businesses offer even more. After a set amount of time working with the company, offer the opportunity to take an extended vacation of one month or more. One week at the beach certainly provides some rest and relaxation, but a longer leave of absence gives staff the opportunity to truly travel or pursue their hobbies. Entrepreneur noted how social networking platform MeetUp allows three entire months of sabbatical for employees who have been with the company more than seven years.
Bring your pet to work
This one may not be suitable for every business environment, but if you can swing it, allowing well-behaved pets in the office is a huge plus for many employees. Forbes wrote about how Trupanion, a pet insurance company, allows pets in the office every day and also extends pet insurance to staff. In an interview with the publication, CEO Darryl Rawlings said there are more than 80 dogs and cats in the office each day.
Dealing with day-to-day chores like changing car oil or dropping off dry cleaning take time and energy. Entrepreneur pointed out how some companies offer to run these errands on behalf of staff. The goal is to help employees obtain a better balance between work and home life. You might want to consider other helpful services for those trying to balance a family and a full- or part-time job, such as providing on-site daycare.
Workplace benefits contribute to employee engagement and shouldn't be overlooked, and unique offerings go a long way to attract awesome talent. HR can help keep benefits packages effective by being sure to communicate to staff what benefits they have access to, SHRM suggested. Also be sure to obtain feedback about your current benefits programs. Do staff members use them? Could they be improved?