The most attractive employee benefits to offer this year

Onsite yoga classes are an attractive benefit to add to your employee wellness program.

By Sam Casteris

Google is well known for offering employees a dizzying array of benefits, including bike repairs, car washes and oil changes, and ATMs, laundry machines and hair salons on-site. However, it’s not the only company that is using innovative benefits to not only attract, but retain top talent. While some of the benefits discussed below are beyond the budget of a small business, they might give you ideas for scaled-down versions that will delight employees.

Free lunch, snacks and drinks

Ensuring your employees don’t have to worry about lunch or late-afternoon snacks means they can spend more time focused on work. Twitter has three meals a day catered in for their employees. Oath keeps snacks and drinks — healthy and not-so-healthy — in the break room. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition offers organic lunches in-house for employees every day.

Wellness packages

Health insurance and short-term and long-term disability are expected. Beyond that, employers can both help their employees stay healthy by offering gym memberes or offering in-office yoga. Threadless offers a stipend for gym memberships so employees can choose their own wellness path. Keeping wellness in mind in office design can help with wellness, as Unilever offers a quiet room for employees to meditate and Capital One has an on-site health center. This also means medical assistance goes well beyond basic insurance. Auto Nation offers a cancer benefit, while JP Morgan Chase helps employees deal with an autism diagnosis in their family. Accenture covers gender reassignment surgery.

Student loan repayment and tuition assistance 

With the average college graduate carrying $37,000 worth of student loan debt, employees could use help paying for the education that prepared them for the jobs they hold now. PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Estee Lauder contributes up to $100 a month to employees’ student loan repayment. Chipotle gives employees up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement and access to discounts on course and an accelerated training program.

Family benefits 

As employers plan benefits, they are taking into account the mounting costs of having a family. Starbucks already has on-site daycare for its corporate office, but added 10 subsidized days to help pay for care of adults or children in daycare facilities. Netflix offers up to a year of paid parental leave, and options for part-time work as the parent starts working again. Pinterest gives three paid months for new parents, as well as two counseling sessions to help ease new parents’ transition back to the workforce. Facebook reimburses adoption fees for employees, and is among companies like American Express and Zillow that pays for mothers who are traveling for work to ship their breast milk home. In recognition of the toll losing a family member has on an employee, Facebook has also recently extended its bereavement leave policy

Paying for weddings and travel

After Boxed CEO Chieh Huang learned an employee was working double shifts six days a week to pay for a wedding and his mother’s medical bills, Huang decided to “change his life.” Boxed paid for the wedding, which was being rushed so it could happen before the employee’s terminally ill mother passed. Afterwards, the company decided to pay up to $20,000 per employee wedding. “We don’t do free meals, we don’t do $10,000 happy hours, we’re lean all around,” Huang said to Inc. at the time. “We don’t have extravagant salaries, but we focus on a few fringe benefits.” Epic Systems rewards employees who have stayed with the company for five years with a sabbatical and a stipend for travel. If that sounds a bit extravagant for your small business, thoughtful perks like massage gift cards after a project requires pulling long-hours could help show your employees that you care about their wellness.

Flexible hours and work from home options

With all apologies to Dolly Parton, working 9-to-5 doesn’t work for everyone, and companies that recognize the need for a flexible schedule can offer employees a valuable benefit. Netflix doesn’t have set hours for employees and doesn’t track hours worked, instead looking at the work done by an employee. Humana’s work from home technology makes employees feel like they aren’t missing anything by not being on-site, while Aetna offers four different remote working situations for employees.

Days off for an employee’s passion

REI, which encourages people to opt outside instead of going shopping on Black Friday, nudges its own workers to get outside by supplying two days off a year specifically for outdoor activity. Working for Salesforce earns employees six days off a year for charitable work, as well as $1,000 earmarked for a charitable donation.

Taking advantage of what the company sells

A store discount is a common benefit for retail employees, but they aren’t the only ones who get incentives to try out their company. Disney employees get passes to their theme parks. Burton, the ski and snowboard maker, encourages their employees to ski with free lessons, season passes and discounted lift tickets. AirBnB gives employees a $2,000 stipend to travel anywhere in the world and stay at an AirBnB property. Comcast gives employees free Xfinity and internet services. Each company finds an employee can more authentically share the company’s goods with customers if they actually get to experience it.


Sam Casteris is an avid travel and lifestyle writer interested in helping budding entrepreneurs run their own businesses sustainably.

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