22 Truly Creative Employee Benefits Your Teams Will Love
by Brittany Ryan
Naked Fridays, trade your elevator for a slide, freeze your eggs—or even, corpse—seemingly every day there’s another company offering a wacky employee benefit.
But are jewelry discounts and free Botox what your employees really want?
We’ve mined through the internet’s hottest (and not-est) employee benefits lists to help you bypass the fads and discover truly creative perks and benefits your teams will genuinely love.
Raise the Office Vibe
1. Ring the Coffee Gong
Slack is one of those fab startups with an employee nap room.
But don’t worry, they’ll help you wake up too.
The “coffee gong” rings every day at 3pm to remind employees to kick back and grab a cup of joe. Workplace socialization has important psychological benefits, and can even offset some of the big health risks that come from sitting at your computer all day.
If your employees are the head-down types, a coffee gong just might be the perfect way to spark some positive interaction, and beat the afternoon slump.
Stale office air is a major drain on employee productivity.
And so are unnecessary meetings.
LinkedIn’s ‘Walk and Talks’ are a great example of how you can liven up internal meetings and make everyone feel more productive, with a simple stroll around the block.
And if you can walk the beat on the nearest nature trail, even better. A University of Michigan study found a 20% increase in short term memory performance for participants who walked among trees, compared to those those who walked down city streets.
There’s a reason we get our best ideas in the shower.
Research shows innovation strikes when our brains are in a relaxed state.
That’s why companies like Samsung and Zappos literally build downtime into the workplace through office overlap zones—designated communal areas where employees can chill out, exchange ideas, and even rearrange the furniture to suit their needs.
An ad hoc overlap zone is a great alternative to the high-tech nap and meditation pods used at companies like Google and Facebook, and just as effective at helping employees recharge their creative brainpower.
No one wants to feel like they’re clocking into one life at 9 and another at 5.
Employees want a work environment where they can be themselves. And what could be more personal than the book on your nightstand? At Penguin Random House, employees get to bring their books to work, take reading breaks, and have group chats about their summer reading lists.
Reading on the job is an easy (and totally free!) way to show your teams you get it: There’s more to life than work.
We know nature makes us feel happier and more productive, but not all of us can afford to cover the walls in greenery.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition places fresh flowers on employees’ desks for a beautiful daily pick-me-up.
They also have tons of other cool perks (such as organic lunches, in-house yoga, and chair massages), but this small gesture is a truly creative way to make employees feel awesome.
Try as we might to keep employees happy, there are times when things just get tense.
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter really is the best medicine. And what better way to have a laugh than with an office-wide desk safari?
The team at Earth Touch took some seriously hilarious photos on their desk safari. Here’s just one of our faves.
Source: Tumblr (<— Pssst, this is one Tumblr you DEFINITELY want to check out.)
Next Level Health Benefits
7. Quality Care Anywhere
Now for the serious stuff.
If there’s one thing everybody hates, it’s navigating insurance networks. But health insurance is the #1 benefit that matters most to employees when accepting a new job. It pays to do it right.
Tech is here to help. Tools like Doctor On Demand, Lantern, and Maven bring professional physical, mental, and even maternity healthcare services, straight to employees’ mobile phones.
Most telehealth solutions are pretty affordable and can work within your current insurance plan with a low copay, or alongside it, with a flat fee. And the ROI’s not bad either, Cisco reports savings of 20-30% on costs for employees who use their telehealth services.
Truly unique health benefits go way beyond co-pays and doctors visits.
Mental health issues cost 12 billion days in lost productivity for employers around the world. And most employees are just too uncomfortable to discuss their mental health at work.
That’s why Olark Live Chat CEO, Ben Congleton’s email made such a massive impact.
Opening the door to a conversation about mental health sounds simple, but we know it’s not. If you’re not sure where to start, a supportive email could be the first crucial step in the right direction.
At Barclays, mental wellness isn’t just an employee health benefit, it’s a core belief.
On the company’s website, analyst, Uzair Patel, who suffers from depression, openly shares his experience with Barclays’ ‘This is Me’ program.
“As a global company Barclays needs to show our colleagues and our community that we offer support. It’s right not only from an economic point of view but for moral reasons too,” says Uzair.
And Barclays’s commitment to mental health isn’t just an internal initiative. In January 2017, the high street bank announced it would train staff to provide support for customers suffering from financial abuse or mental health problems—a truly creative way to pay it forward.
Finally, one of the boldest mental health campaigns is Amex’s ‘Healthy Minds’.
In 2015, they completely revamped their EAP and transformed it into their award-winning mental health program. Every year, as part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ #IWillListen campaign, the company invites employees to share personal stories via video and social media.
And their employees seem to love it. Amex’s ‘Healthy Minds’ program has a 98% internal satisfaction rate.
There’s a lot of talk about the differences between millennials vs. Gen Xers vs. boomers, but at the end of the day, we all want the same thing:
A healthy, happy life at work and at home.
Asana was named one of the 25 best small workplaces in the Bay Area by Fortune Magazine, and we think we know why. The 240-person company offers formal, external mentorship and life coaching as part of their benefits package. The program includes an all-star list of coaches to help with anything from improving interpersonal relationships to hands-on engineering mentorships.
Self-improvement is a fundamental aspect of Asana’s culture, and with a 4.9 rating on Glassdoor, it seems to be doing the trick.
In-house gyms and yoga classes are nice and all, but what employees really want is the freedom to choose what works for them.
Employees at MINDBODY get both weekly yoga sessions and a monthly wellness card to use on any fitness class of their choice. And for employees who want a little more structure, MINDBODY’s Evolve program offers comprehensive fitness coaching at a variety of local gyms.
Pro Tip: Tools like Reward Gateway and Perkbox let employees choose their favorite engagement and wellness perks from an awesome lineup of options.
13. Beyond Bonuses
Budget is usually the biggest barrier to better employee benefits.
But money isn’t everything.
Airbnb is a great example of how a company can incentivize employees using its own products and services. They offer an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and stay in an Airbnb listing anywhere in the world. (Bonus points if you make your employees take their vacay!)
What do you do when you’re one of America’s biggest beer brands and your town is overrun with micro-brewed IPAs?
One word (or hashtag): #ReclaimColorado
Coors’ internal campaign turned employees into engaged brand ambassadors, saved their market share—and gave away a ton of great beer in the process. Employees were given a $35 per month stipend to buy beer for friends when they were out having drinks.
The result was massive engagement, both among employees and consumers. Here’s a shot from one of over 200 employees stories shared internally.
15. Go the Extra Mile with Learning and Development
Deloitte’s three to six-month sabbatical is still the one to beat when it comes to top employee L&D benefits.
But if you can’t spare your staff for half a year, why not try a monthly learning series like the teams over at Bucketfeet?
The artist-designed footwear company sponsors 1-hour L&D sessions every month with a cool array of guest speakers on topics that tie in nicely with the company’s mission (see what we did there?). Sessions are kept super informal so employees feel comfortable to engage and ask questions.
Go ahead, sit on the floor. At Bucketfeet, employees are anything but suited and booted. It’s all about great art—and great people—first. Source: Bucketfeet
16. Use Your In-house Experts
Don’t have the budget for guest speakers and life coaches? Don’t worry.
If you’re like most offices with a multi-generational workforce, you’ve probably got more mentors than you realize—and your employees might be more open to the idea than you think.
Almost 9 in 10 Millennials agree that baby boomers are a great source of mentorship in the workplace, and 93% of baby boomers say Gen Y bring important new skills and ideas to work. Put ‘em together, and everyone wins.
AdRoll’s Fearless Lady Leaders campaign uses senior staff as in-house mentors to help coach, train, and build awesome leaders.
17. Revamp Internal Announcements with Video
No one wants to read about changes to their 401k on a Friday afternoon.
At Wistia, team leaders make key announcements via weekly video updates.
This is an awesomely creative way to bring a little life to your onboarding process, make sure employees actually see important announcements, and cut down on time lost due to unnecessary meetings.
18. Event Tickets and Transportation
Everyone loves a night out.
Which is pretty convenient for employees at Quicken Loans—founder, Dan Gilbert owns the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Quicken Loans staff gets tickets and transportation for all home games, and can even score tix for concerts, comedy events and pretty much any of the awesome entertainment that goes down at The Q.
Pro Tips: Use the Rukkus Slack bot for a fast, affordable way to order tickets to events in your city. And if you want them to really love you, let your employees charge their Lyft to the company account.
Parental Benefits 2.0
19. It’s All about the Babies
By 2030, millennials will account for 75% of the workforce—and more than a million millennials are becoming parents each year.
Now’s the time to start getting some seriously creative parental benefits in place.
Companies like Facebook and Amex offer stellar parental benefits (e.g., 5 months paid parental leave, 24-hour lactation consultant, and free breast-milk shipping for traveling mothers, the list goes on!), but they’re not the only ones.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream franchise is a great example of how smaller companies can get in the game, simply by adopting a unique perspective on the cost of parental benefits. Any Molly Moon employee who works at least 20 hours a week, and has been with the company at least a year, gets 12 weeks of parental leave at full pay.
The way they see it, the cost of covering parental leave is nothing compared to the long-term benefits.
“Molly Moon’s entire business model was built on providing great jobs and great ice cream!” Source: Molly Moon
20. Save a Parent’s Day
It’s no secret working parents are under extreme pressure.
According to a 2014 study from Cornell University, context switching has a big impact on stress and productivity—especially for women, as they’re twice as likely than men to experience more than 20 switches a day between, work, social and family roles.
Companies like Google, Starbucks, Genentech, and AOL offer onsite daycare facilities—but let’s face it, those guys have massive budgets. That’s why this creative benefit comes from Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop. The small franchise allows on-staff parents to take time off to attend their kids’ events and activities—no questions asked.
Pro Tip: Allowing working parents to pack up a few minutes before they clock out will help them combat the stress of context switching and move more intentionally from one role to the next.
21. Make Date Night a No-Brainer
The rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples with kids, than for couples without kids.
Did we mention parenting is stressful?
Veterans United came up with a truly creative solution. They treat their working parents to a ‘Parents Night Out’ every three months, and even provide a list of recommended babysitters.
And the gesture seems to be well-appreciated. The company has a 4.6 rating on Glassdoor.
We know you’re sick of bring-your-pet to work posts.
But there are other ways to support your pet-loving employees.
For example, Scripps Health offers pet health insurance for cats and dogs. And if your fur baby has ever been sick, you know just how big a perk that is.