Employees of Mphasis Corporation in New York City enjoy a few unusual benefits. If a manager is particularly impressed with a team member’s performance, they may give out a voucher good for a free dinner for two — on the spot.
“We find that specialty programs, such as discounted photography classes, surprise perks and fitness programs related to health insurance benefits are well received by our employees,” says Elango R, Chief Human Resources Officer at Mphasis.
A 2015 survey of office workers in the US and Canada by the B2B division of Staples found that flexibility and office perks are key to retaining millennial talent. Non-traditional benefits can promote a positive culture, improve employee happiness, and increase productivity.
Many companies across the world are moving beyond traditional employee benefits and offering more non-traditional perks to improve loyalty and retain talent. Here are a few non-traditional benefits that organizations are exploring.
Benefits for the Whole Family
“We offer a family holiday for employees that have been with the company for five years. I find the loyalty of the employee is so much more when you do something for them and their family. It shows we care about their family life. The productivity is enhanced because with loyalty the employee works more sincerely,” says Appan Pathmanathan, CEO of Trusted Lawyers in the UK.
“Many Chinese companies take employees and their immediate families for overseas trips together. Such perks are often viewed very favorably, especially by middle and lower level staff,” says Rajendra Kumar, VP at a Multinational Electronic Manufacturing company (OEM) based out of Singapore.
By addressing more personal needs of their employees, organizations are able to show just how much they value his or her contribution to the team.
Professional Benefits and Career Development
Professional benefits and career development benefits can be advantageous, especially for young employees who are looking to upgrade their skills.
“Many IT companies in India offer a ‘You Pass, We Pay’ [plan] which allows employees to choose a course or certification that the employer will reimburse after successful completion. Assisting employees’ education not only benefits them, but also benefits the organization by developing and retaining a more competent workforce,” says Umesh Kamath, HR Director at UST Global, India.
A 2013 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 85% of employers offered off-site professional development opportunities. Many also covered any certification or re-certification fees.
At Purina, employees are encouraged to bring pets to work. A Virginia Commonwealth University study found that dogs at the workplace can boost morale – plus pet owners are less stressed about leaving their pet at home. Many companies also offer pet insurance coverage, which may include reimbursement for certain treatments.
Non-traditional benefits show that companies care and support their employees, often reducing burnout, turnover and absenteeism. It can also improve performance and elevate the quality of interpersonal interactions among employees.
“At Technopark Trivandrum [in India], we have a shared [nursery] facility for parents to drop off their infants. Young mothers find it extremely helpful because they can focus on work without worrying about the baby. Such facilities help retain a productive workforce within the company and increase loyalty,” says Kamath.
A study by micro-economist Rachel Connelly showed that employer-sponsored daycare is not only affordable, but also profitable in many cases. The study also found that employees themselves would be willing to contribute to the cost of voluntary benefits such as daycare.
Also, research from Horizons Workforce Consulting shows that onsite child-care can increase retention and positively impact employee well-being. Progressive companies realize that childcare facilities help working parents, and improve their bottom line by retaining a talented workforce.
Flexibility at Work
“The stints that I have enjoyed most in my previous organizations such as L&T, Mysore, India, or Keppel, Singapore, have been due to the flexibility and work freedom that they offered,” says Kumar. Employees generally seem to appreciate flexibility and freedom in work.
Telecommuting is becoming a popular flexibility option and it benefits both employees and organizations. Telecommuting positively impacts relationships with supervisors and reduces work-family conflict and employee turnover, primarily by giving people a high level of control over their work and how they do it. Telecommuters also usually want to show their gratitude to the company for their flexible work arrangements.
Employers across the globe are constantly trying to improve retention and reduce hiring costs. Happy and healthy employees simply make great business sense. HR managers may want to consider non-traditional benefit packages during strategic planning so that companies can attract the most talented and competitive workers.