Should You Add That Employee Benefit? A Guide to Selecting the Right Perks for Your Employees

Posted by Brandon Carter on Mar. 7, 2017

It's so easy to fall in love with an employee benefit when you're looking at it through the proverbial store window.

You can just picture your employees falling all over themselves to use it. Each would rush to their phones and text their friends, "U gotta come work here asap lol!"

Maybe they'd carry you out of open enrollment on their shoulders, like a championship winning football coach!

And those things might happen, especially if the perk you're considering is free helicopter rides.

But more than likely, you're going to have to lose the Love Goggles and take a deep, critical look at any benefit before you pull the trigger.

Here are some guidelines to help you decide if that employee benefit is your next big thing, or something you should just pass by.

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  • ROI

This is what you should expect for your buck. You should know the optimal return for each benefit. Is it to help in recruiting? Will it help employees stretch their paychecks? Will it to contribute to better health and wellness? Or is it just something nice?

If you know what each dollar you spend on a perk should return, you're able to identify if it's truly a need, and whether that benefit is the best option.

87% of employers say retention is a very important benefits objective ( MetLife)
  • Employee ROI

We've talked about the employer's ROI, but what about employees? Each benefit should pay off for them in a tangible way. Maybe it helps them save money, or enables them to do something that would otherwise be difficult.

Otherwise, it ain't that beneficial, right?

  • Culture Fit

If the first two were all about measurables, this one is the opposite. Does this potential benefit fit your culture? Does it fit in and serve a clear need for your employees, the employees you want to hire, and the goals of your organization?

A great example is Facebook and other companies that offer egg freezing, which is appealing to young female employees who aren't yet ready for children. Same thing with parental leave policies - they're a great fit for companies that want a comfortable atmosphere for Millennial and Gen Z workers.

Or conversely, does the benefit fit the culture you'd like to have? For example, if your employees tend to not collaborate or venture out of their cubicles very often, then perhaps a barista or free coffee could remedy that.

  • Vendor Partner

Like we said recently, don't let your benefits vendors sell you something then disappear. Look for vendors who understand that employee perks and benefits require working together. Work with them to set benchmarks for usage or enrollments, then find ways together to hit those benchmarks.

For example, you're not an expert on merchant relationships or coupons. If you buy an employee discount program that doesn't offer support, guess who's going to get the calls when a merchant rejects an offer? Who are workers going to call for help registering, or getting the coffee shop next door to offer a deal?

Good old HR!

Don't let that happen. Find partners, not vendors.

  • Employee Interest

Seems obvious, but try to find at least a somewhat-strong interest from employees before you pull the trigger on a new benefit. Send out a quick survey, or even stop people in the hallways for a quick chat. Even better: have a committee of employees who offer their thoughts and wisdom on benefits and wellness.

Benefits each generation is most interested in: employee discount programs (34% of Boomers), paid parental leave (34% of Gen X), financial wellness programs (46% of millennials) (ADP)
  • Implementation

Look for benefits that integrate with your current HCM, or at least won't require a major IT overhaul. Let your vendo…AHEM partner do the heavy lifting where possible. HR shouldn't have to be experts on back end technology and APIs.

  • Sustainability

Some perks and benefits are spectacular, but you can't afford them for longer than a year or so. Others serve a need today but will be useless in short order.

It's best to look for perks that you can maintain for years to come. It's okay to add something extravagant and unsustainable on occasion - prepare to market it as temporary.

Extravagant Doesn't Equal Better

There's an infinite list of perks a company can offer to differentiate themselves from other employers. If you're willing to pay for it and let employees have it, you can't go wrong.

Most of us don't have blank checks, though.

Which is perfectly fine.

Many studies show that extravagant perks don't make all that much of a difference to most employees. They want fair pay and the ability to take care of their families, an attentive, non-monstrous manager, and the potential to move forward in life.

Put any potential corporate perks or benefits through a close, rigorous examination. Use what we've shared, and you're more likely to see with clear eyes what's great and what really isn't necessary.

It may not inspire employees to douse you in Gatorade. You won't receive an "HR MVP" trophy at the end of your open enrollment meeting. But it'll be all the better for everyone in the long term.

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Topics: Benefits Trends

Brandon Carter

Written by Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter