Benefits and Perks of the Top Companies: What Can You Learn From Them?

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Recruiting and retention are a top concern for many companies in today’s competitive hiring market, and benefits and perks can play an important role in both.

More than half of candidates say employee benefits are an important consideration before accepting a job, and a lack of benefits may also be a reason people are leaving. For instance, 53 percent of employees who get paid time off would leave for more at another company.

We looked at the employee benefits and perks from companies listed in the 2019 Glassdoor Best Places to Work and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For for some inspiration. Big companies often come with big budgets, so we can’t necessarily copy their benefits and perks—but we can certainly learn from them.

Health and dental insurance

Health and dental insurance are two of the most commonly offered benefits, but some top companies stand out in this area in two ways. First, they cover the most—or all—of the premium. For instance Boston Consulting Group and Facebook cover 100 percent of the healthcare premiums for eligible employees.

Second, they offer additional insurance offerings. For instance, Bain & Company offers health, dental, vision, life, supplemental life, disability, occupational accident, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

What we can learn from this:
Health and dental insurance are a good way to show employees you care about them and, as an added bonus, keeping them healthy helps keep them productive. Eighty one percent of people expect their employer to offer major medical insurance and 75 percent expect dental insurance, so those two areas areas are a good place to start.

Keep in mind that offering a group plan or even a small contribution toward premiums can save your employees money over individual plans, so offer what you can. If you have the means to go above healthcare and dental coverage, consider additional insurance offerings, such as vision, life, and disability insurance.

Paid time off

Paid time off is also a common benefit, and big companies stand out with competitive policies and a variety of paid time off options. One Boston Consulting Group employee said they receive, “3 weeks standard on hire, 4 weeks after 5+ years tenure.”

A Zoom Video Communications employee once said, “12 days a year and no sick time is definitely not doing it, probably the only con for Zoom.” They’ve since changed their policy to unlimited paid time off. Many big companies also offer a variety of other paid time off, including paid holidays, sabbatical, sick days, bereavement leave, and volunteer days.

What we can learn from this:
Ninety two percent of companies offer paid vacation, but there is no one-size-fits-all for paid time off. The average full-time employee gets 11 days off after a year, 15 days off after 5 years, 18 days off after 10 years, and 21 days off after 20 years.

When 53 percent of employees who get paid time off would leave for more at another company, you may benefit from offering more than the standard two weeks—if you can afford it. You may also consider offering additional time off for more tenured employees, as a means of rewarding and retaining them, as well as a variety of other time off.

Unlimited paid time off is increasing in popularity, and can help with recruiting and retaining employees without increasing your financial liability. Fifty one percent of people say they would take a job for 10 percent less pay if unlimited paid time off was included.

Perhaps that’s why Zoom modified their policy. Either way, they were clearly listening to employees and making changes to their benefit plan to be more competitive. Companies offering this benefit can utilize managers to ensure it’s not being abused—as time off still needs to be approved, and work still needs to get done. And, when an employee does eventually leave, companies with unlimited paid time off policies are not faced with the burden of paying out unused vacation time.

Retirement

Many big companies offer retirement plans, but choose to structure them quite differently. For instance, Bain & Company’s generous 401(k) employer contribution is based on tenure and immediately vested. One employee said, “Bain contributes 4.5% independent of whether the employee contributes.

This amount increases after three years. It is 100% vested immediately.” A Google employee said they receive, “100% matching up to $3000 and 50% matching up to $20000.” Southwest Airlines offers a 401(k) plan with up to a 9.3 percent match.

What we can learn from this:
Seventy five percent of people expect a 401k or other pension programs, but there are many ways to structure them so they work for your budget. You may simply offer a plan for your employee’s contributions, or you may choose to contribute as well. If you do contribute, you may offer a percentage of the employee’s salary or match their contributions to a pre-set limit, determine a vesting schedule, and increase your contributions for tenured employees.

Wellness

Beyond the traditional benefits, big companies are offering wellness benefits and perks. For instance, Procore’s headquarters has an onsite gym and weekly yoga and TRX classes. They also offer discounted memberships to the local pool and tennis courts, yoga studio, sailing center, golf range, and a monthly $25 MindBody allowance. Similarly, Salesforce has Mindfulness Zones, on-site fitness, and a subsidized gym benefit.

What we can learn from this:
Top companies are investing in their employees’ wellness because it results in healthier, happier, and more productive employees.

Many benefits and perks in this area can be done without any cost to the employer, or with a minimal cost. For instance, reaching out to a local gym or golf range to offer your employees a group rate is absolutely free, while offering a subsidized gym membership will cost only what you choose to contribute. Setting aside some space for a mindfulness zone is a one-time set-up cost, unless you also choose to subsidize a mindfulness app or bring in regular instructors.

Personal and professional development

Offering personal and professional development shows your employees that you care about their future, while also improving the quality of your internal candidate pipeline. For example, Wegman’s Food Markets spends more than $50 million a year on training and development, including $5 million in tuition assistance. One employee said, “It’s nice to work for a company that keeps giving instead of taking away.”

Procore hosts industry leaders and local meetups to support their employees’ professional development, while Edward Jones organizes a mentorship program to help new hires feel supported. Hilton’s Education for All program offers fully-paid GED and high school completion programs.

What we can learn from this:
Again, there are many ways to structure personal and professional development to meet your budgetary needs—and the needs of your unique workforce.

Mentorship programs are a no- or low-cost way to support your workforce, while hosting educational events can fit into a relatively low budget as well. Supporting your employee’s education is an investment in their future, which could very well benefit your company long-term.

Take the time to create career paths for each employee at your company, based on their goals and your needs, and offer development opportunities to help them get there. You can set a budget you’re comfortable with, and require approval prior to utilizing funds, to ensure they’re being used appropriately.

Free Food

While some enterprise-level companies offer free daily lunch and snacks to employees, Procore tones it down to a more budget-friendly offering. First, they have “get to know you lunches,” allowing employees to get to know their peers by going out for a company-sponsored lunch twice a week. They also have kitchens stocked with healthy snacks, and employees can order fresh, cold pressed juice for delivery.

What we can learn from this:
Offering free food is a great way to help your employees spend some downtime together, so they can get to know each other a bit outside of their work capacity. But, while private chefs and restaurant-grade kitchens aren’t an option for many companies, there are still plenty of creative ways to offer this fun perk. You can offer employees a gift card or monthly budget to go to coffee or lunch together, host monthly pizza parties, or bring in bagels and fruit for your weekly all-hands meetings.

Final thoughts

The employee benefits and perks listed above are just a sampling of the most common offered by top companies. Others include parental benefits, travel benefits, commuter benefits, and more. There are also many no- or low-cost perks offered, including work from home and flex hours.

You don’t need to offer them all, but it can pay off to do everything in your power, and within your budget. Taking the effort to create a thoughtful employee benefit and perk program can help you attract talent, while keeping employees happy, healthy, and engaged!

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