23 employee benefits that go beyond the traditional

When battling for talent in this increasingly tight labor market, you might need something to give you a leg up on your competition. And many times, you can’t just keep increasing the salary for the candidates you want.

That’s where a great benefits package can help. According to a 2021 MetLife study, 62% of employees think employee benefits are more important now because of the pandemic.

While your company may not be able to contend with the pay from the big guys with deep pockets, you can offer other benefits and/or perks to sweeten the deal.

The cost of entry is health insurance and 401k as they are at the top of the list for most employees as “must-haves.” At this point in time, remote work is a given as well. We’re looking to take your benefits to the next level. So, here are some more uncommon benefits for you to consider:

  1. Paid time off for birthday and/or work anniversary. This is a thoughtful but unexpected perk that gives employees a day off for themselves. If an employee’s birthday or anniversary falls on a weekend or holiday, offer them an extra day of PTO so they can still take advantage of the perk.
  2. Unique schedules. Providing flexible work options can boost morale and make employees think twice before applying somewhere else. Consider a 9/80 work schedule where the work setup is a two-workweek schedule of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off.
  3. Summer Fridays. In the summer, many businesses offer a shorter workday on Fridays to allow for more fun-in-the-sun time. But maybe consider extending it to an all-year-long policy?
  4. Student Loan Repayment Plans. The average student loan debt in 2021, according to the Department of Education, was $37,062. You could make a real difference in employees’ lives by setting up a student loan repayment program for them.
  5. Discounted Family Cell Phone Plans. Cell phones are now as necessary as food and water. Make it easier for your employees and their families to stay in touch by offering discounted plans that are easier for an employer to get.
  6. Employee Prize Catalogue. This perk offers unique bonuses, which can be anything from PTO, experiences, or prizes, based on performance measurements.
  7. Diapers + Wipes Subscription. According to babylist.com, a baby can go through an average of 2,200 diapers in the first year, coming in at about $650. And that’s just diapers. Such a subscription can help wipe away (pun intended) those financial burdens.
  8. New Baby Fund. To go along with number 7, provide your employee with a new baby on the way with a set amount of funds to welcome the new life into the world.
  9. Treadmill or Standing Desks. Sitting all day is bad for your health. Treadmill or standing desks can do wonders for stress and productivity. Rather than sitting in a chair for hours on end, your employees can stand or get moving.
  10. Transgender-Inclusive Healthcare Benefits. One of the key aspects of a successful health benefits program is inclusivity. Employees who are transgender may have medical costs that aren’t covered by some insurance companies. Offering health plans with transgender-inclusive benefits can help reduce the cost and stress for these employees.
  11. In-office Massages. Whether your employees spend most of their days at their desks or on their feet, a relaxing massage is always a welcome treat to help reduce stress. This rejuvenating reward can be just what your employees need.
  12. Paid Professional Development. Workshops, outside speakers, paid certifications, etc. are an absolute win-win. Employees gain new skills and employers build a more knowledgeable team.
  13. “Fur-ternity” Leave. If an employee has a new kitten or puppy, it can be a lot in the beginning. Some say it’s like having a new baby. Fur-ternity leave can give employees up to a week off to get everything situated for their new furry friend.
  14. Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting their performance, such as alcohol or substance misuse, child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems or wellness matters. With mental health a focus for many employers, this is a great program to offer your employees.
  15. Volunteer paid time off. Your employees are busy. Maybe they want to volunteer but just can’t find the time. Providing special PTO for charity work can give them the time (and incentive) to do good.
  16. Company Book Club. A great way to promote learning, communication and team building. Earn higher engagement by putting aside an hour of work time each month to discuss a current business book. It’s a win-win as it can serve as continuing education and professional development.
  17. Paid Sabbaticals. Employee burnout is real. If you want to retain employees, sometimes you need to let them spend some time discovering their passions outside the office. Sabbaticals are shown to decrease stress and increase life satisfaction.
  18. Traveling Briefcase Program. This could be a good perk for top-performing employees. Provide airfare and accommodations for an employee and one guest to visit another company office. It’s a great way to learn from other teams, bond with other employees in the company and develop new skills.
  19. Adoption Assistance and PTO. The adoption process can take over a year that’s filled with complicated paperwork, intense interviews and lots of frustrations. Adoptive assistance can help aspiring parents navigate this sometimes-difficult process. And then offer adoptive parents leave just like you would for maternity/paternity leave.
  20. On-site Flu Shots. Not only do flu shots keep everyone healthy, but they also help protect your employees and their families from getting sick. Make it even easier to get one by offering an on-site flu shot day.
  21. Travel Benefits. Show your employees you want them to get out and take that dream vacation by giving them travel benefits. Or offer an annual budget to go out and see the world.
  22. Experience Passes. Give your employees free or discounted admission to some of the best experiences in town from sports and music to art and literature.
  23. Employee Referral Program. Now, this one is not unique. But in this time of too many jobs and not enough workers, maybe consider increasing your referral amount. And continue to streamline recruiting by incentivizing your employees to refer top talent to your organization.

Offering unique employee benefits is a great way to attract new talent and keep existing employees productive. And this is by no means a complete list of perks you can offer. Use this as a jumping-off point and see what you can come up with!


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