More than Money: Simple Perks Can Point to Great Employers

It can be tempting to dismiss the glowing praise of those who work at great employers in technology and other fields flush with cash. After all, what’s not to like about free smoothie stations, unlimited time off, Cadillac health plans, and other accoutrements of organizations that seem to spare no expense in attracting talent? But dig deeper, and you’ll find that some of the most valued policies at companies with satisfied employees aren’t necessarily about money. Here are a few worthwhile perks for HR professionals to consider, regardless of their industry or resources for employee benefits.

Flexibility

At insurer and financial services provider USAA, about a quarter of the workforce works remotely or takes advantage of a flexible schedule. That could mean cutting back to part time to care for young children, starting work early to beat traffic, or working a compressed schedule for regular long weekends. There’s a lot that employees love about this organization, but the fact that it gives them options to better match up the demands of work and home ranks high on the list.

“I tend to be a workaholic,” one employee says. “This is the only company I have ever worked for that has told me to go home, it is family time and work will be here tomorrow. The company truly cares about their employees.”

Transparency

Whether business is good or bad, people feel more trusted and less anxious about their jobs if they know what’s happening within their organization. At user experience consulting business AnswerLab, the fact that 98 percent of employees say managers are approachable and easy to talk with helps contribute to a culture of trust and buy-in among team members. The CEO makes time for a quarterly “walk-and-talk” sessions with each employee, and leaders openly discuss sensitive information on the status of the company.

“Management is extremely transparent with how the company is doing, shares financials, and sets a clear path for what we need to achieve each quarter,” says one employee

Sharing Knowledge

Tuition reimbursement, professional conferences, and on-site seminars are swell. But sometimes the most enlightening information can come from the person the next desk over. Online events platform Eventbrite joins many companies that host informal lunchtime learning sessions. Employees give talks on topics as diverse as coding and photography. It helps teams bond over newly discovered interests and also exposes people to new sides of the business. Much like mentoring programs, this kind of employee-led career development shows that a company cares about its team members’ potential beyond their current roles.

Says one: “I can honestly say that this team, this family, has afforded me many opportunities to be challenged, exercise my skill set, mentor and develop other team members and contribute in ways that I never thought I would be capable of prior.”

Community Involvement

The health professionals at Houston Methodist care deeply about their patients. At the same time, 92 percent of employees also say they feel good about the ways they serve the greater community. These include donation drives for hygiene products and a series of staff-led educational seminars that have reached more than 1,000 people.

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“Houston Methodist partners with many community organizations, activities and businesses,” an employee says. “We often celebrate these partnerships and host events. I love telling people I encounter in the community that I work for Methodist. I continually hear, ‘Oh, what a great place!'”

Whether it’s through an opportunity to give back or simple policies that just make the workday more pleasant, relatively inexpensive perks can prove that an employer cares about its people, both as professionals and as individuals seeking a sense of satisfaction from their jobs.

About the Author

Kim Peters is CEO of Great Rated!™ at Great Place to Work®, where she is focused on helping job seekers understand companies’ workplace cultures and find their best fit. She has over 15 years’ leadership experience in the online recruitment industry. Prior to joining Great Rated!, she held leadership roles with a number of successful businesses in the recruitment sector, including Workopolis.com, Canwest Mediaworks and Eluta.ca.
  • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

    They aren’t all about money, they are all about compensation of some kind. And the problem isn’t that companies don’t offer these options or benefits, it’s that when they do offer them it’s half-heartedly, often arbitrarily, and also as an alternative to actual monetary compensation. And the sad fact is that more often than not, the more ‘expensive’ benefits are actually money makers in the end. At this point in time, a simple regular full time schedule of around 40 hours a week would likely benefit almost every employer, at least in the US. But most steadfastly refuse to believe that less time can equal more productivity and fewer errors, and less ill will and better health, and continue to work people 50, 60, 70, and even more hours a week regularly.

    As a profession we need to stop extolling the virtues of doing the least possible to satisfy your employees, monetarily or otherwise, and we need to stop approaching the subject of compensation, be it monetary or otherwise, as if it’s some viper that might bite us, because of the implicit understanding that most employers are trying to drive wages through the floor even more than they already have, despite already stagnant and even falling real and nominal wages. Pizza on Wednesdays and other near zero cost ‘benefits’ are not going to solve the problems most employers have. They need to bite the bullet and realize their employees want real benefits and decent wages, not half-hearted excuses to try and make up for the last three rounds of layoffs and pay cuts.