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3 Employee Perks That People Actually Want

It's not just about the beer fridge.

Posted on December 30, 2014


In a 2013 NY Times article, journalist Molly Young lamented the plight of tech workers who suffered the consequences of well-intentioned, but misguided, food perks: weight gain.

Kegerators, fro-yo, free lunches, and gourmet cupcakes -- plus ping pong and foosball tables, to go along with -- are collateral of talent arms race.

And it’s not just startups. Even big companies are getting in the employee perks game, too.

Of course, ridiculous perks are nothing new to the workplace. Banking and law are two industries that have showered employees with lavash holiday parties and other perks for decades.

Companies are quick to dole out perks, but they often skip the benefits that employees would actually be excited out.

In this post, we’ll dive through just a few.

1. Fair Maternity and Paternity Leave

Despite the fact that women are now breadwinners for 40% of US families, the United States doesn’t require employers to offer any paid maternity leave. Only 12% of employers offer paid time off for new moms.

Women’s labor force participation has surged in recent decades. It’s been driven largely by increases in labor force participation among women with young children, according to Pew Research Center. At the same time, fathers -- nearly all of whom are in the labor force -- are taking on more child care responsibilities, as a social shift has caused us to regard fatherhood as more than just bringing home the bacon.

Despite all of this, the U.S. government support for working parents remains limited, compared with 37 other nations, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 25 of the world's most developed countries that were included in the data also offer guaranteed paternity leave—leave that is specifically available for new fathers. Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Slovenia, Sweden and Germany all offer eight weeks or more of protected paternity leave, and with the exception of Ireland these countries also mandate that a portion of this time off be paid.

For the most part, though, paternity leave, where available, is more modest—in Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea, Austria and Hungary paternity leave is guaranteed for one week or less.

The data shows that maternity and paternity leave is important to employees. 89% of men say that paternity leave is important to them. In a survey from Linkedin and Citi Bank men and women rank good healthcare benefits as the most important perk in any job, women were far more likely to value flexible scheduling or the ability to work from home (90 percent of women versus 72 percent of men) and good maternity or paternity leave policies (56 percent versus 36 percent).

It’s clear that fair maternity and paternity leave is important to many employees, and employers are wise to consider these wishes.

2. Open Vacation Policies

It’s a no-brainer that most employees prefer the beach to the boardroom. Despite having some kind of vacation policy in place, a whopping 66% of employees avoid the hassle and paperwork of vacation time and leave vacation days on the table at the end of each year.

An open vacation policy boosts employee morale because it shows that you trust them. It provides a job perk at little or no cost, and in fact, it may save you money in the long run because of an increase in productivity and less time spent on record-keeping and administration.

Of course, there’s a chance people will abuse it, but the policy of mutual trust and respect established by the policy helps prevent that.

3. Bonuses

A recent employee survey from Express Employment Professionals, a top staffing firm, revealed the holiday wishes among employees. What was at the top of their holiday wish list? Unsurprisingly, pay raises and cash bonuses were the most desired tokens of appreciation.

A cost/benefits analysis could show that money spent on frivolities could add up to even a modest bonus at the end of each year for employees.

What employee perks do you think companies miss out on the most? Tweet us @_Vocoli and let us know. 

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