If you've ever been conversing with a group of business owners and the topic of "employee perks" comes up, you'll probably quickly discover that there are two opposing schools of thought regarding the topic. Some employers insist the only perks they need to offer their employees are restroom and lunch breaks.
Other employers maintain that offering employees unexpected, helpful and even fun extras benefits employers just as much (perhaps more) than it benefits employees. If you're a believer in studies and statistics, the perk proponents seem to be on to something.
Studies: The Price of Loyalty is A Price Worth Paying
According to the Society for Human Resource Management's 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report it takes just over 40 days and costs just over $4,100, on average, to replace one employee with a new hire. According to human resources consulting firm HROnboard, average small to medium businesses onboarding 100 new employees each year will spend more than $40,000 on the process. That does not include recruiting or training new hires, it only covers the costs to get them up and running.
According to Employee Benefit News employers will spend about 33% of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves. Work Institute's 2017 Retention Report estimates employee spend around $15,000 to replace employees earning median salaries of $45,000 a year.
The percentages and dollar amounts vary from study to study, but they all lead to a similar conclusion: It is far more cost-effective to do what you can to keep your current employees happy than it is to replace them when they leave. You've heard the saying "you've got to spend money to make money." Well, you've got to spend money to keep your employees and, consequentially, make more money! The takeaway? Perks pay off. And besides … treating your employees well is just the right thing to do!
Some Perks Aren't Actually "Perks" Anymore
When something is considered status quo in most businesses, it doesn't really qualify as a perk. Case in point: health insurance benefits. Most white-collar and many blue-collar employees expect employers to offer health insurance coverage. If your business does not offer health insurance coverage, it's probably time to buckle down and try to find a way to fit that into your budget.
Marketing firm Fractl surveyed 2,000 employees to discover which job perks are most important to them. Overwhelmingly, the perk that respondents said were most important to them when choosing whether to take one job over another one is "better health, dental, and vision insurance." In fact, they said would strongly consider accepting a lower-paying job with great benefits than a higher-paying job with less attractive healthcare benefits.
Healthcare Perks are Huge!
Even if you offer health insurance coverage, you can go beyond that to really gain your employees' appreciation. Health insurance is great; it provides peace of mind that you'll be able to afford to take the steps to stay healthy. It also makes doing what you need to do to stay healthy more affordable. But, it does nothing to alleviate how time consuming and inconvenient it is to stay healthy.
When you need to see a doctor, you've got to find a doctor who takes your insurance, make an appointment, and often accept an appointment on an inopportune date and time because options are limited. You've got to take time off of work, drive to the doctor's office, find parking, wait to be called in, wait some more for the doctor to come in, check out, pay for parking, then drive back to work.
Offering perks to cut out all of those middle steps will resonate with your employees - and cut down on the lost productivity of your employees having to go through all of those middle steps. Here are some healthcare perks you and your team will benefit from.
Perk Idea: Arrange for On-site Cancer Screenings
Nonprofits like Susan G. Komen and various healthcare providers operate mobile mammography vans equipped with the equipment and radiologists needed to provide breast-cancer screenings. Every organization's specifications are different. Businesses in the Houston area, for instance, can schedule a site visit from the MD Anderson Cancer Center mobile mammography van. A minimum of 15 and a maximum of 27 women must sign up, and the site visit must be scheduled three months in advance.
Healthcare providers in your community also may offer mobile screenings for other cancers. Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, for example, offers breast and skin cancer screenings through its Mobile Screening Unit. When a business schedules a visit with the mobile unit, a dermatologic oncologist performs noninvasive skin screenings to look for skin cancer and other skin changes.
Perk Idea: Arrange for On-site Flu Shots
Nobody enjoys getting vaccinated for the flu, but most of us hate getting the flu much more than we hate getting a flu shot! Arranging for a medical provider to visit your office to administer flu vaccines helps your employees take care of a task that's important to their health (and their family's health), but that's easy to forget.
When you give your team easy access to the flu vaccine, odds are good that most employees will appreciate checking that task off of their list. On-site flu vaccinations are a great perk for employees, and smart business. The flu is notorious for being highly contagious, debilitating, and having a long recovery period. The more employees who are vaccinated, the lower the odds that your business will suffer from a flu outbreak. Community health organizations and private companies offer mobile flu shots. Worksite Medical, with locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, is just one example of a company that offers mobile flu shot clinics.
Perk Idea: Arrange for On-site Vision Care
Arguably, on-site vision care is the most helpful healthcare-related perk you may have not yet heard of! We've already discussed how time consuming it is to visit a doctor's office for an exam. When you're talking about an eye exam and you don't have 20/20 vision, add on waiting for the doctor or considerable time to find the ideal eyeglass frames to flatter your face.
More than 30,000 employees of Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago companies including Microsoft, Uber, Pegasystems, Ocean Spray, and Wayfair have stepped into the comfortable and well-equipped 2020 On-site mobile vision center. Employees love it because 2020 On-site mobile vision eye exams take less than 30 minutes. After the exam, they can browse hundreds of frames from which to choose.
If your employees' jobs require them to spend long periods of time in front of a computer screen, give them the gift of convenient access to professional eye exams and high-quality corrective lenses. It will help bring into focus for them why you're such a great company to work for. According to one study, nearly 70% of employees surveyed said they would trade one of their vacation days for eye-care benefits. Considering how much people value their vacation time, that is saying a lot!
Perk Idea: Pay for Part of their Vacation
If you're feeling extra generous and have the budget for it, perhaps you'd be interested in following in the footsteps of companies like Airbnb, financial services firm The Motley Fool, and tour group G Adventures. These are a few examples of companies that pay for all of their employees' vacations. In some cases, employees get a stipend to use toward vacation. In others, employees can enter drawings for all-expense-paid vacations.
Perk Idea: Line Up, or Allow Your Employees to Line Up, On-site Childcare
If you have or had young children and a full-time job, or know someone who does, you know what a balancing act that can be. It's tough to focus entirely on your job when you're worried about your kids. Babies and toddlers can't effectively communicate about how they are being treated by caregivers, whether they engaged in worthwhile activities or left to cry in the corner all day. One of the most valuable perks you can give your employees who have young kids is on-site childcare. It can be fully or partially funded by your company, or you can simply donate the space and allow employees to pool their resources and hire and pay for care.
If you give parents a safe place in the workplace where they can leave their kids, and can check in with them during their lunchbreak and periodically throughout the day, you will be a rock-star boss! Offering on-site childcare can also be a powerful recruiting tool. Your employees will be less anxious and less stressed, their kids will be happier, and you and your clients will benefit from more engaged, more focused, more productive employees.
Perk Idea: Sponsor Taco Tuesdays or Food Truck Fridays
Everybody needs to eat! If your place of business does not have a subsidized employee cafeteria and adding one is not financially feasible, why not treat them to lunch occasionally? Whether you choose to have lunch delivered or catered one day out of each month or one day out of each week, your employees will appreciate you for it! Get creative with it (designate each food day with a theme such as Mexican, Italian, ballpark or stadium food day and encourage your employees to dress and act the part!) Or go simple and just arrange for the food and send out an e-mail the day before to let employees know they don't need to bring a lunch.
Perk Idea: Buy (And Share) Season Tickets
If you're located in a sports-centric city, consider buying season tickets for your company. You could hold drawings to distribute tickets, use them to reward outstanding performance, or simply offer them on a first-come, first-served basis. The same thing holds true with season tickets to theaters and concert halls.
Perk Idea: Create an On-site Fitness Center
It's a safe bet that you have plenty of employees who would love to lose a few pounds, bulk up, or simply engage in heart-healthy physical activity. It can be tough to fit in an offsite workout before or after work, or during the lunch hour. Employees will be more likely to exercise if they can do so conveniently at the office.
The investment to create an onsite fitness center may be less than you imagine. Free weights, exercise balls, jump ropes, resistance bands, mats, etc. aren't terribly expensive. Purchase a few cardio machines, install floor-to-ceiling mirrors, specialty flooring, and perhaps male and female shower facilities, and you'll be set up like a hotel gym. Exercise boosts energy and creativity, and helps keep your employees healthy. That's good for them and good for your bottom line.
Perks at Work Equal Perkier Employees!
Perks at work can range from time-saving, efficient ways to help your employees stay healthy, small tokens of appreciation for a job well done, or amenities that help make their lives easier and more enjoyable. Not only will these little extras show the members of your team that you value them, they will probably also contribute to less absenteeism, tardiness, worker's compensation claims for your business. They'll boost morale and productivity. And they'll reduce the financial and reputational costs of a high employee turnover rate. Are perks at work worthwhile? We absolutely think they are. We'd love to know what you think!