15 Unique Employee Perks and Benefits

FT Contributor
Office employees applauding the benefits they've just received.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

An employee benefit is a form of compensation that an employer can offer their employees. This compensation typically goes above and beyond the employee’s salary and, while it always has worth, does not necessarily have a monetary value. Employee benefits are typically aimed at increasing job satisfaction.

In the competitive job field, many employees choose specific jobs because of the employee benefits package associated with it. This need for a unique, high-quality benefits package has pushed many employers to offer a variety of interesting perks and benefits. Here is a list of 15 of the most unique employee benefits available — keep in mind, each of these may vary in the specifics from one employer to the next.

1. Pet-Friendly Office

One fascinating perk that has grown in popularity in recent years is the ability of employees to bring their dogs to the office. This benefit has proven particularly effective amongst millennials, who tend to prioritize their work environment more than other generations.

2. Cafeterias and Drink Machines

An office kitchen with a cafeteria and drink machines is another work-environment-related perk. The specifics can vary, but many office kitchens have vending machines, coffee stations, and even fully stocked beverage fridges. In select cases, such as with Google, this perk is even expanded to include all meals for the employees.

3. Fitness Classes

Employees often need to pay for a gym membership and then get up extra early each day to fit in a workout before heading to the office. Some employers answer this dilemma by offering a fitness center right on their campus. This can include a workout room, cardio options, and even fitness classes, all provided for free or at a minimal cost.

4. Death Benefits

This morbidly titled perk can be one of the greatest security blankets that an employer may offer their employees. Whether it’s in the form of an annual payment, a pension, or a life insurance policy, a death benefit ensures that an employee’s dependents will continue to have an income in the event of their death.

Particularly when a worker is a sole provider for their household or they have a family to care for, death benefits offer an added sense of peace that everything will be taken care of, even in the event of a life-ending catastrophe.

5. Onsite Health Services

Often a larger employer will offer on-site health services as a perk for their staff. Employees can make appointments and meet with nurses, doctors, and at times, even physical therapists without ever needing to leave the office.

6. Mental Health Support

While less obvious, many companies are wising up to the concept of offering mental health support as a bona fide benefit. This can take the form of covering mental health concerns within your healthcare plan, creating an employee assistance program to help your employees directly, and generally focusing on workplace positivity.

7. Student Loan Payments

One particularly attractive perk for many younger employees is the offer for an employer to pay off some or even all of an employee’s school loans. While this often is connected with the length of time that an employee has already worked or will work at a company, the perk is still very alluring to the growing host of graduates leaving college with a mountain of debt.

8. Unlimited Vacation Time

Many companies, such as Hubspot, Glassdoor, and GE, offer unlimited vacation time to their employees. While this sounds like a lazy man’s dream come true, “unlimited” can be misleading and it should be taken with a grain of salt, as you still will be expected to get your work done one way or another.

9. Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits are a variety of smaller compensation items that can be offered to a company’s employees universally or on an individual basis. These may include:

  • A company car.
  • Retirement plan contributions.
  • Employee stock options.
  • Aid with adoption costs.
  • An employee recognition program.

10. Flex Time and Remote Work Options

Flex time and remote work are becoming more common as the business world acclimates to modern technological tools. Flex time consists of an employee controlling when they work (often within a time frame) as long as they work an appropriate amount of time each day. Remote work enables employees to work out of the office, typically from home.

11. Extended Paid Maternity Leave

While a short period of paid maternity leave is a common perk, some companies will expand this time to several months and even as much as a year. Paternity leave is also beginning to be addressed, with some companies like Netflix offering a full year of paid time off to both parents after a birth.

12. Child Care Services

Coming hand in hand with maternity leave, many companies also provide child care services right on campus. This can make logistics easier, keep a parent in close proximity to their child, and yield huge savings over time.

13. Travel Stipends

Some companies will offer employees who regularly travel a travel stipend. This is a set amount of money in addition to their salary. For instance, AirBnB offered a $2,000 travel stipend to each of its employees in 2016 to cover travel expenses.

14. Volunteer Time Exchange

If you love to volunteer, you may be indirectly rewarded for your efforts. Some companies offer the clever perk of exchanging volunteer time for PTO. In other words, you can invest in a cause you believe in and be paid by your workplace to do so.

15. Free Technology

Finally, many companies offer their employees a variety of free technological gadgets. These can vary from a company phone to tablets, laptops, fitness watches, and more, all of which are paid for by your employer.

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