Just a few years ago, an office pingpong table was a trendy way to improve employee retention and culture. Now, employers offer a wide array of practical and unique benefits.
Offering benefits can be a creative way for your employer to compensate you if it can’t afford to pay you more. These perks also can be a useful tool in your negotiations before you accept a job offer.
Here are four notable benefits offered by innovative companies and some ideas for how you can get your employer to add them to your package.
1. Enjoy a free, paid vacation
Some employers are so committed to making sure employees use their vacation time that they pay for trips once a year.
Utah-based BambooHR has paid for employees to take trips to Paris and Disneyland as well as tropical locations. The company reimburses employees up to $2,000 for expenses under what it calls a “paid, paid vacation” benefit.
“My wife and I have four kids, and as any parent knows, there’s a difference between shepherding kids on a trip and relaxing on a vacation,” said Brian Anderson, HR content creator at BambooHR. “My first ‘paid, paid vacation’ let me take my wife to Oregon on our first kid-free vacation in 12 years.”
Other employers take a different approach to get workers to take time off: vacation savings accounts.
Services such as 401(play) help employers provide these plans to employees, who can earmark part of each paycheck to save for vacation.
Greg Nickolson, founder of (401)play, said he knows of one employer that gives each employee $5 per pay period toward a vacation savings plan. “The message from the employer is that ‘dinner’s on us,'” Nickolson said.
2. Get free Uber or Lyft rides after a night out
In addition to offering traditional health and wellness benefits, C3 Metrics — headquartered in New Hampshire — pays for Uber or Lyft rides for employees.
“We had an employee who had a DUI and realized the impact that had on business operations,” said Joel Breen, the company’s managing director. “It was better to protect the team from poor choices than deal with the fallout of a DUI.”
Breen said the company doesn’t share the average monthly cost of the program per employee.
“We have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” said Breen. “If people have to explain why, they may not take advantage. We just want them to be safe.”
3. Have your pet needs covered
Pet owners know the costs of having a fur baby add up. It can be stressful and distracting to think about how to take care of your animal, especially if it puts you in a precarious financial situation.
“With more than two-thirds of American households owning at least one pet, our dogs and cats are now tried-and-true members of American families,” said Scott Liles, president and chief pet insurance officer for Ohio-based Nationwide. “Companies are looking for new ways to recruit and retain top talent. Offering pet health insurance can aid in the recruitment and retention of pet-owning associates.”
Pet insurance can run as high as about $70 monthly for dog coverage but averages about $40 a month, depending on the breed, age, and medical history of your canine.
Like health insurance, pet insurance policies vary. Some policies include dental, while others include emergency care. Some even cover reward money and advertising costs if your pet is missing.
Employees with company-offered pet insurance can get access to lower rates because their employer can negotiate pricing with the insurance provider. Many providers, including Nationwide, allow pet insurance to be deducted from your paycheck.
4. Find perks that allow for more fun — and free time
Most people need to find a way to unwind. That’s why Texas-based car insurance comparison site The Zebra will pay for you to “treat yo’self.”
Through this benefit, employees get a monthly stipend to do nice things for themselves.
“Some people have applied the amount to plane tickets they’ve bought,” said Dillan Bryant, director of people at The Zebra. “Some people use it for dinner party ingredients. Some people treat themselves with a massage or an exercise class. It really depends on whatever floats your boat.”
The Zebra also pays for a cleaning service for its employees. The total monthly cost for these unique benefits is $100. That adds up to $1,200 a year in extra perks as well as countless hours you don’t have to spend cleaning.
Use benefits as a negotiating tool
While unique benefits may be shiny jewels that draw prospective employees through the door, it’s important to take the time to evaluate how the benefits and salary will combine to advance your financial goals.
“Too often, people are only looking at salary when they’re taking a look at an offer and not examining the benefits that go along with it,” said career and finance coach Sophia Bera. “If you’re not doing the math, you’re not going to be able to compare that offer apples to apples with another offer — or you might not be able to understand everything your company has to offer.”
Bera recommends first focusing on the nuts-and-bolts benefits before factoring in the more exciting offerings some employers provide.
“A lot of companies … are trying to do these fancy benefits,” Bera said. But she insists they’re only valuable if they’re offered on top of standard benefits.
After that, Bera said the best approach is to negotiate benefits that put you in a better position but don’t cost your employer top dollar.
Extra vacation time and work-from-home days are a good place to start. “I think that’s one of the easiest things you can negotiate,” said Bera.
Company benefits are a useful tool that can help you save money and budget for the future. Negotiating with your employer for benefits that create win-win scenarios for everyone will help you live a happier life and set you up for more success.
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