Many employers think that they need to offer things like table tennis in large and custom-designed breakrooms, organic juice bars, bring-your-dog-to-work days, and free lunch every other day—especially when it comes to hiring younger employees—to retain employees and keep them happy.
But research is beginning to show that those aren’t the perks that employees really care about. And because employees don’t care about them, they yield a much lower return on investment (ROI) overall for organizations and become more extravagant than useful.
According to a recent study that analyzed data from Thomson Reuters’ ASSET4 database, which evaluates several aspects of workplace culture, here are the five real categories employees care about when it comes to perks, benefits, and overall workplace happiness.
- Employment quality: Employees want fair benefits, compensation, and job conditions.
- Health and safety: Employees want to be healthy and work in a safe and healthy job environment and not be stressed or sleep-deprived while at work.
- Training: Employees want to see that their managers are committed to providing them with development and educational opportunities.
- Diversity: Employees want equal opportunities for career advancement.
- Respect for human rights and labor laws: Employees want to be treated equally as humans and don’t want to be exploited or taken advantage of in the workplace.
Examples of Perks that Yield High ROIs
According to statistics and trends, here are some examples of perks that have real potential to yield high ROIs.
- Leadership training programs and continuous learning opportunities
- Clear and personalized career development, trajectories, and pathways
- Financial wellness, stability, education, and support
- Student loan reimbursements and other educational reimbursements
- Flexible working options and 4-day workweeks
- Comprehensive healthcare programs that include mental wellness resources and resources for addiction recovery
- Pension programs and retirement savings plans
- Family planning benefits and resources
- Paid time off, including maternity and paternity leave, and paid time off to volunteer
Examples of Extravagant Perks in the Workplace
- Getting your wedding paid for in full
- Shipping your breast milk for free when traveling
- Receiving $4,000 in “baby cash” when you have a child
- Free Tesla leases
- Free mechanical bull rides at the bar across the street
- Board game nights, movie field trips, and murder mystery parties
- Free season passes to a local ski resort
- All the snacks you can carry
- Free beer on Fridays
- Pet insurance
- RV rental discounts
Overall, research and studies indicate that employees simply want to be treated like individuals and human beings, they want to have stress-free and safe work environments, and they want to be able to rely on their organization’s commitment to their personal and professional success. Anything else you offer them will most likely be extravagant.