The 27 Best Employee Benefits Packages and Perks for 2021
In today’s ultra-competitive employment market, your employee benefits packages and perks can be the difference between keeping great talent and losing it to your competitors. Here’s what you need to know.
There’s no question about it: 2020 has been an unprecedently challenging year for organizations and employees. Unemployment is high, morale is low, and uncertainty is looming. And looking ahead at 2021, this makes a strong case for finding ways to motivate, incentivize, and appreciate your employees beyond just a paycheck—and employee benefits packages and perks are a great way to do this.
Even under normal circumstances, employee benefits packages play a huge part in where great talent chooses to work. And when you factor in just how beat down employees are feeling this year (a recent survey found that 74% of employees are concerned about at least one aspect of their wellbeing as a result of the virus), it’s clear that making sure your employees feel cared for is going to be critical in keeping great people at your organization.
And yet, that same study found 40% of employees say their employer is not currently offering employee benefits programs that help and 69% feel having a wider array of benefits would increase their loyalty to their employer.
The writing is on the wall: if you want to retain and attract great talent in 2021 and beyond, you need to prioritize employee benefits packages and perks.
Here’s what you need to know.
- 4 Fundamental Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
- 4 Mental and Physical Wellness-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
- 4 Development-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
- 2 Family-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
- 8 Outside-the-Box Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
- 5 Monetary and Material Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
The 27 Best Employee Benefits Packages and Perks for 2021
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is changing—in some ways, potentially forever. That means you’ll need to consider both some tried and true employee benefits packages and perks as well as some new ones that are more reactive to the times.
Here are some ideas.
4 Fundamental Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
For organizations looking to get their employee benefits packages and perks kick-started, there are a few fundamental ideas to keep in mind:
- Volunteer Time: A recent study found that creating a company culture that encourages volunteering can help boost employee morale, workplace atmosphere, and brand perception. This goes to show just how important it is to making volunteering accessible for staff. For example, here at Outback, our employees get a pre-determined number of paid volunteer days to use in support of the causes of their choice. They simply need to submit a request and secure approval. If you’re looking for ways to give back, check out our blog article: 15 Creative Volunteer Ideas to Help Your Team Make a Difference.
- Paid Sick Days and Paid Vacation Time: While this might seem like a no-brainer, a staggering 32 million U.S. workers don’t get paid sick days. For organizations, this is an easy place to start for drastically improving the lives of your staff. Offering paid sick days and paid vacation days goes a long way in increasing your employees’ quality of life.
- Office Events: Sometimes one of the best perks for employees is simply getting together to do something social which has nothing to do with work. Office events like parties or happy hours can do just that. This can happen in-person or virtually if your team works remotely (and if it’s the latter for your team, check out this article we wrote featuring 24 Virtual Team Building Activity Ideas to Engage Remote Employees).
- Team Building Activities: With many teams feeling strained and stressed by the pandemic and many others being physically disconnected due to work-from-home mandates, finding ways to create connections between employees is more important than ever. Team building activities are a great way to help your colleagues bond, relax, have fun, and hone their professional skills while they’re at it. And if your team is working remotely, don’t worry—there are a ton of incredible virtual team building options as well, including:
- Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist: You and your team will need to work collaboratively to solve the case of a stolen trove of jewels and recover the score before it’s gone forever.
- Virtual Trivia Time Machine: Hop in the Outback Time Machine and travel back through past decades with nostalgic trivia covering pop culture history.
- Virtual Clue Murder Mystery: Can you and your colleagues solve a deadly crime? In this virtual team building activity, you’ll need to examine case files and decipher clues to solve the mysterious murder of a man named Neil Davidson.
- Virtual Happy Hour Trivia: Take a trip to Hamish McDuff’s famous virtual Irish pub with your teammates and take part in his legendary and hilarious trivia game.
- Virtual Team Pursuit: Gather your team to compete in a series of online mental, physical, skill, and mystery challenges as you compete to earn points in hopes of being crowned the Virtual Team Pursuit Champions.
4 Mental and Physical Wellness-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
There’s a growing trend towards supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. That’s why incorporating the following employee benefits packages and perks can be a great call for originations.
- Supplemental Insurance: In the United States, there are 31 million people currently lacking health insurance. As an employer, you can consider offering supplemental insurance programs that can be offered at group rates to employees for pennies on the dollar, including spousal insurance, long-term care, disability, and more.
- Health and Wellness Benefits: Healthy employees have been shown to be more satisfied and productive in their work. So, it stands to reason that employers would do well to provide their staff with health and wellness benefits, such as offering corporate gym memberships or even hosting in-office or virtual fitness initiatives like yoga, mindfulness, or fitness classes.
- Healthy Snacks: Offering healthy snacks and a well-stocked lunchroom can act as literal brainfood for your employees, helping them to stay sharp, focused, and engaged throughout the day—in turn boosting productivity. This can include making available simple things like bananas, apples, baby carrots, nuts, protein bars, jerky, and granola. You can also consider a service like Caroo that supplies employees with healthy snacks, whether they’re working in the office or remotely. For more ways to improve your staff break room, check out this blog article we wrote which offers 10 great ideas.
- Mental Health Support: As of July 2020, a whopping 53% of adults in the United States indicated that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This clearly shows why it’s more important now than ever for organizations to take initiative on providing mental health resources for their staff. This can include things like access to counselors by phone and in-person as well as making information and resources readily available for staff.
4 Development-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
Investing in the development of your employees benefits both the team member and the organization. By offering opportunities for employees to develop their skills and increase their knowledge, you’ll show them you care while also making them more valuable to your company.
- Continuing Education: Your employees aren’t just there to meet deadlines and get their tasks done – the people in your organization help build it. And investing in the development of your staff is a great way to show that you appreciate their efforts. From post-secondary courses to licenses and certificates, investing in your employees will pay dividends in the long run. For insights on how to create a continuing education program for your employees, check out our blog article on the topic.
- Corporate Library: A cheap and effective perk for your team is to start a corporate library packed with books that can help the voracious learners on your team to consume valuable knowledge. You can populate the library yourself and you can also ask employees to contribute books when they’re done with them, if they’d like. To get your library started, we’d recommend checking out the book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. Every single one of our employees at Outback is asked to read this book before starting with our team.
- Financial Literacy and Money Management: In today’s employment market, Millennials are now the most prolific generation in the working world. And yet only 24% of them demonstrate basic financial literacy. But it’s not just the younger generations who struggle in this department: 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency and 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. As an employer, promoting financial literacy and savvy money management can be one of the biggest benefits you can offer. Whether it’s bringing in a professional to share insights and best practices or offering an automatic savings withdrawal program, a little support can go a long way.
- Employee Development Opportunities: Researchers found that giving workers a chance to better themselves is key for employee retention, second only to compensation as a reason why people leave their jobs. One great way to do this is with both in-person and virtual group training sessions designed to help employees develop soft skills such as performance management, presentation skills, and even emotional intelligence.
2 Family-Focused Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
For employees with children, juggling work with raising their kids can be a difficult juggling act, making family-focused employee benefits packages and perks a huge plus for your team members.
- Childcare Support: With both parents working in the majority of U.S. households, childcare is a need-to-have rather than a nice-to-have. But here’s the rub: it can cost upwards of $700 per month and for many families, this can be a devastating financial blow. This is a great opportunity for employers to kick in and help out with childcare costs, in turn making life a lot less stressful for parents.
- Parental Leave: The average length of full-paid parental leave in the United States is about four weeks. This is extremely short – in fact, among 41 first-world countries, the United States offers the lowest amount of paid parental leave. This means that, for expecting parents, extended paid parental leave can not only relieve a huge burden, but it can also allow for more time spent with their newborns during a key developmental period.
9 Outside-the-Box Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
If you’re looking to adopt some progressive employee benefits packages and perks, these are some ideas that are becoming increasingly popular with organizations across the world.
- Unlimited Vacation Time: Many employers are opting to offer unlimited vacation time for their staff. This means that time off is based on getting the job done rather than by allotted vacation days. We would advise that you maintain a stringent performance management system in order to execute this properly.
- Cell Phone Support: Do your employees need a cell phone to do their jobs? If so, consider looking into a corporate plan and giving your employees work phones. This way, you won’t be asking them to put business calls and data use towards business-related calls and texts.
- Pet Insurance: There are a lot of pet owners in the U.S. In fact, 67% of American households (or about 85 million families) own a pet. And yet, less than 3 million are insured. This means that tens of millions of families run the risk of being up against massive vet bills in the event that something goes wrong with their pet. If you want to go above and beyond for your pet-owner employees, consider subsidizing pet insurance or seeking opportunities to offer group rates.
- Pet-Friendly Office Space: A small but meaningful perk for many employees is the ability to bring their pets to work. This can also be a benefit for non-pet owners who enjoy quality time with furry friends. Please note, though, that it’s extremely important to ensure that having pets in the office won’t impact any employees with allergies. And if it might, make sure pets are only in the office on days when allergy-sensitive employees are away from the office or working from home.
- Animal Therapy: As an extension of the previous point, scheduling animal therapy sessions from time-to-time is another way to make sure your workplace has access to the mental health resources it needs. Who doesn’t feel better after playing with a puppy for a few minutes?
- Fridays Off: As an extension of paid time off, offering your employees Fridays off—even if it’s just during the summer months or once per month—is a great way to keep people motivated and excited. Just like the idea of unlimited vacation time, we’d recommend making this subject to getting the job done and treating it as a privilege, not a right.
- Work-from-Home and Flex Time: The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote employment significantly more common than it was even a year ago. But it’s also worked out well for many companies—such as Twitter, Shopify, and many other massive organizations that have chosen to permanently decentralize their operations. Looking ahead, implementing long-term work-from-home or flex time options is a great perk for employees and can also be a cost-saver for organizations. If you’re not sure how to implement or manage this, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with comprehensive resources that can teach you how to transition your team to remote work, tips and tools to equip remote employees for success, and how to keep remote employees engaged.
- No Official Work Hours: The ultimate extension of flex time, implementing a “no official work hours” policy can allow employees to achieve a significantly better work-life balance. The best way to do this would be to base it on getting the job done rather than measuring hours of output and for it to be contingent on being available for scheduled meetings and accessible by phone during “regular” business hours.
- Annual Retreats: If COVID-19 safety protocols allow it, you might want to consider hosting an annual retreat. The great thing about annual retreats is that you even have the opportunity to travel to some incredible corporate retreat destinations to get some quality time with your colleagues in a new and exciting setting.
5 Monetary and Material Employee Benefits Packages and Perks
Sometimes, the most valuable employee benefits packages and perks come in the form of monetary compensation or material items.
- Recognition, Gifts, and Rewards: After a tough year, it’s more important than ever to reinforce your appreciation for your staff and all of their hard work. One great way to do this is to focus on employee recognition, gifts, and rewards. If you’d like to learn more about how to do this, we created a comprehensive Online Guide: Why Employee Recognition Matters and How You Can Provide It.
- Retirement Savings Plan Matching: As full pensions continue to become a rarity in the North American work force, more and more employees are contending with the idea of having to fund their own retirement. As an employer, anything you can do to help them get there will go a long way in retaining your people. For example, a tax-advantaged 401(k) plan can be an excellent way to motivate employees to save for retirement. Offering to match contributions up to a certain amount is a big plus in the eyes of workers and can encourage them to stick with your firm.
- Student Loan Repayment Assistance: Did you know that 44 million Americans have outstanding student debt totaling more than $1.5 trillion (yes, with a T)? While this is still a hotly contested point in today’s politics, employers have an opportunity to help their staff reduce the debt they accrued as a means to get into the workforce. There may come a time when the government helps students and graduates to pay for their education but, in the meantime, it’s a great opportunity for organizations to support their staff.
- Performance Bonuses: While we did say that employee benefits packages and perks extended beyond just a paycheck, there’s still a lot to be said for offering performance bonus for employees who meet or exceed their responsibilities. There are a ton of different types and structures for performance bonuses but the key thing is be clear on the what, why, and how of qualifying for a bonus and communicating it effectively to your team—then seeing it through.
- Stock, Stock Options, or Equity: While this may not be applicable for all organizations, it’s extremely beneficial to those that can. That’s because offering stock options and equity give employees a sense of ownership in the success of the business and bolsters the emotional connection between your team and their work.
As the working world looks to move forward from an extremely difficult year, identifying and rolling out incredible employee benefits packages and perks will be a key driver of your organization’s success in retaining and acquiring incredible talent and keeping your people engaged and inspired.
Do you offer any employee benefits packages and perks that we might not have included? If so, drop us a comment in the comments section below and let us know!
Learn About How Team Building, Training, and Coaching Solutions Can Be a Great Perk for Your Team
For more information about how your employees can benefit from team building, training, or coaching solutions, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.