It seems the days when a company could brag about “valuable perks” like free snacks are gone. Sure, nearly everyone loves a free granola bar, but does it really enhance your work/life balance and your quality of living?
Instead, ideal scenarios within employment include flexible workdays and solid insurance options with a focus on health. The hope is that companies are paying attention because employment seekers certainly are — the jobs with good pay and great benefits often are the most attractive.
So what are the best employers offering these days? Here are some of the most and least valuable benefits your employer might offer.
Most valuable: Healthcare
Almost 155 million Americans have health coverage through their employer, according to a health benefits survey by Kaiser Family Foundation. It’s a valuable asset to have good health insurance plans — and why employees might consider working for or staying with a company.
In addition to insurance, workers may also value perks such as health savings accounts or access to a gym as part of their benefits.
Most valuable: Paid leave
Employees may need a break sometimes, for myriad reasons. Paid leave is a valuable benefit to help workers feel financially secure when they most need it. If it’s from sickness (their own or a loved one) or another notable reason, knowing that a company has your back to potentially help alleviate some stress is an asset.
Pro tip: Last year, Google offered a “reset” day in which every employee got May 28 off as a way to recharge. It’s a move many employers could consider as these are the type of unusual job benefits that may help people feel their value.
Most valuable: Collaborative areas
Collaborative spaces have become more popular as companies try to rethink what an office might look like in a post-pandemic world. Rows of desks may be replaced by couches and open spaces that could help the collaborative process when workers are in the office.
Collaborative spaces can foster new ideas and encourage brainstorming sessions. They can also promote teamwork and help co-workers come together to accomplish tasks that may be difficult to do alone during a work day.
Most valuable: Retirement benefits
Employees are trying to find more ways to save for retirement, including looking into benefits offered by their companies. Some employers may still have traditional pensions while others have turned to 401(k) plans as an incentive for their workers.
There may also be a matching plan, which matches the money you put into a retirement account. That may not be money you can pull out and use immediately, but your future self might thank you for investing it now to benefit you later.
Most valuable: Working from home
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of what it means to go to work — for many, that meant staying at and working from home. Some of the best jobs now are work-from-home positions. Many employees and employers realized they didn’t need to be sitting at a desk in an office everyday and that there were benefits in staying home for everyone. The big value, of course, is in having no commute and not paying for large office spaces.
And as COVID-19 moves to endemic status, where it’s more of a normally occurring thing for us, companies may be deciding if working from home is a perk that will stay or go. Many employees likely will not want to give this arrangement up. In fact, according to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey in March 2021, 87% of workers said they wanted to continue to work from home at least one day a week, and 42% said they would look for another job if their employers would require working full-time in an office.
Most valuable: Parental leave
Unfortunately, paid parental leave isn’t available to most workers — and being able to make money after having a baby can be very challenging for a family. In fact, a 2021 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found only 11% of part time workers and 27% of full time workers in the private sector had access to paid family leave.
Many parents prioritize working for companies with good parental leave plans not only because they may be considering a new addition to their family, but these plans could also apply in the event of needing to care for a sick child or an elderly parent.
Least valuable: Games
It’s not to be discounted that games in an office are a great way to clear your head before delving into a project, take a little break from the computer screen, interact with co-workers, and just make the office more lively. While there is some value in having these things, most workers don’t include them at the top of the list when it comes to valuable benefits.
Least valuable: Full-time and in-person work
The pandemic has created big changes for what an average work day looks like. Many employees who were sent home to work have found that having a flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, and the elimination of a commute is more desirable. In fact, according to a FinanceBuzz survey on remote work conducted last year, 81% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to look for remote work for their next job.
While some careers do have to be in person, employees may balk at the idea of having to return to an office full-time and may consider switching to a different organization to maintain their remote work set up
Least valuable: Large offices
It might be great to have your own space in an office building, maybe even have a room with a door and a window. But as more work is being done at home, big offices aren’t what they used to be. It may be important if you’re leading a team or need to have conversations with co-workers on a regular basis, but having your own office in a building doesn’t have the same prestige as it used to.
Least valuable: Free food
It’s a perk to have free meals cooked by chefs right in the company kitchen. (Imagine having that luxury for every meal!) It means you may be saving money since you’re not buying lunch or bringing leftovers in from home. Having lunch with your co-workers in the office could be a great time to bond and connect as well. Of course, some companies don’t have chefs, but offer plenty of free snacks.
But if free food is the only perk, it’s not enough. Free meals and snacks in addition to the items found as “most valuable” though, slides this “benefit” more toward the bonus category.
Companies may have some extra benefits as part of your employment, but not all benefits are equal. Benefits often come with solid health and retirement plans, while the rest fall into the perks category.
When it comes time to switch jobs or choose where you want to work, take all of these details into consideration, and remember to factor in how they could add value to and affect your everyday life.
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