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Employee Perks: What HR Needs to Know

Employee Perks: What HR Needs to Know

Employee perks are crucial to an organization. They can help define culture, provide current employees with incentives to stay, and offer new candidates a reason to join the team. These, of course, are only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s what HR needs to know about employee perks and how to choose the best for your team.


What are Employee Perks?

Employee perks are additional offerings that supplement an employee's initial salary and benefits. They are not the same as health insurance or other core benefits. They are voluntary perks not required by law and are intended to supplement required benefits such as health insurance. These perks most often fall under the umbrella of fringe benefits.

Employers can use these perks to support employee benefits offerings and stand out from other employers. Employee perks will fall under one of three categories:

  1. Purchasable perks include benefits such as gym memberships, student loan forgiveness, pet insurance, office supplies, provided snack and drink options, and onsite lunch offerings.

  2. Programmatic perks involve internal policies that benefit the employee, such as casual Fridays and unlimited PTO.

  3. Environmental perks involve how you organize your office space, such as offering unique rooms for meditation or relaxation, open floor plans, greenery, natural lighting, outdoor working areas, and game or break room areas.

Employee perks create a more enjoyable working experience for your employees and help to build your organization's culture. 


What are Common Employee Perks?

Employee perks can come in many shapes and sizes. Any offering that is meant to provide employees with a better experience and is not already required by law, can be considered a perk. Here is a list of some of the most common employee perks offered by employers today: 

  • Onsite gym

  • Gym memberships

  • Happy hour offerings

  • Casual dress-code

  • Beer in the office

  • Cell phone reimbursement

  • Game or break room

  • Catered lunch

  • Onsite cafeteria

  • Paid family medical leave

  • Commuter or parking stipends

  • Meditation or relaxation rooms

  • Pet-friendly office

  • Sabbatical leave options

  • Unlimited PTO

  • Wellness programs

  • Paid parental leave

  • Student loan assistance

  • Company outings

  • Non-essential office supplies


What are the Benefits of Employee Perks?

Employee perks can have a measurable impact on your organization. Perks help solidify and lay the foundation for good company culture

These perks are a great selling point to potential candidates as well. Offering these sought-after fringe benefits can help you become even more competitive in recruiting top talent. Perks like provided lunches, commuter stipends, and unlimited PTO can be attractive options that are hard to pass up.

Offering perks is also a great way to maintain high retention rates among current employees. For example, if you offer training opportunities and tuition reimbursement, then employees will see that you care about the future of their careers. Employees will believe that their mental health matters to the organization when you offer amenities, such as relaxation areas or break rooms. This can improve retention by suggesting that the longer they stay at the organization, the better off they'll be in their career.

Employee perks can also increase productivity. A relaxing environment that lowers stress levels can allow employees to maintain a clear focus and have a better experience in the office. Studies have shown that happy employees are 20% more productive than those who are not. 

Recently, changes to The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 2020 made offering perks even easier. Many cell phone, wellness, and parking plans are no longer considered part of an employee's salary or wages. This means they can be offered as a perk without being subjected to the same taxes. 


How to Select the Best Employee Perks

The best perks will supplement the core mission and values of an organization, emphasizing areas like learning, teamwork, and achievement. Try these approaches:

  1. Discern what values you wish to exemplify, and let that guide your decision as you formulate your perks policy. One example would be how a company that sells camping supplies offers all of its employee's annual national park passes. 

  2. Use surveys and internal employee feedback to determine what perks employees would like. You can continue to do this even after establishing a perks program because—as organizations evolve, so should employee perks. 

  3. Consider different elements such as the nature of employment, whether in the office or remote. This, along with the type of industry, can influence which perks you choose. 

  4. Try not to force certain perks into your plans. Always carefully consider your options and what will be best for your organization. 

In the end, you may find one you had not previously considered that better suits your employees. Remember, the perks are for the employees. If they aren't working out, don't be afraid to change them. There is no reason to continue offering a perk that does not support your team.


Additional Resources

You can also stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with employee benefits and other important topics by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news

  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance

  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit

  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

HR Calendar 2024: Key Dates, Deadlines, and More

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