The Benefit of Unconventional Benefits for Millennials

dog at work

Millennials are quickly becoming the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce, and it’s important to find ways to attract and retain these employees. Younger staff often choose their position not just based on title or job responsibilities but using other criteria like flexible scheduling, office amenities and company culture. Many companies use unconventional benefits like pet-friendly offices, fully stocked kitchens and other perks to attract new team members and encourage them to commit long-term. If you’re interested in providing any of these benefits to your team, here are some things to consider.

Set Your Own Hours
Flexible scheduling not only gets your employees one step closer to that elusive goal of work/life balance, but it demonstrates a level of trust and respect on your part. There are many approaches your organization can take:
  • Work at home policies enable employees to log on at home or another remote location. If you institute this policy, try to be as fair as possible. This may mean making special concessions for call center staff or other employees who require special equipment.
  •  Alternative schedules allow employees to set their own hours. Your policy could establish core business hours that all employees must be online (for example, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or enable employees to completely define their own schedule as long as they are getting their weekly hours in. You may find that this policy actually encourages your team to put in more hours than a traditional schedule.
  • Unlimited paid time off (PTO) is a new trend in benefits, as employers allow team members to take as much time off of work as they choose. Consider defining guidelines for requesting time off of work and tracking the time that’s taken, to ensure that the policy isn’t being abused and employees understand when PTO can be used and under what circumstances.
Pet-Friendly Policies
According to recent studies, having dogs in the workplace not only reduces stress but is also proven to increase collaboration and communication among team members. If you choose to allow dogs at work, start by creating a committee to establish guidelines. Some companies choose to allow pets one day per week, while others allow pets to visit whenever the owner chooses. Whichever you choose, make sure to clearly define the policy for your employees and ensure that people stick to it. You should also consider drafting a waiver or employee agreement to indicate responsibility for property damage or other issues.

Unfortunately, not all offices are conducive to having pets on-site. You must make sure that there is easy access to the outdoors and establish pet-free areas within your workspace. Dogs should be friendly to both humans and other dogs, and introductions should take place off-site to reduce the risk of aggression. 

Everyone Loves Free Food
Fully stocked snack cabinets and on-site cafeterias are a leading contributor to employee satisfaction. According to a 2015 study, 67% of employees whose companies offer free food are “extremely” or “very” happy with their current position. This perk is still fairly unconventional, however, with only 16% of employers offering free food on site. Cost may be a factor for larger companies, so before implementing a food program be sure to take budget into account. Consider sending an employee survey to uncover any food allergies or sensitivities, and ask for feedback to determine what types of snacks will be most popular with your team. Many companies tie their free snack program into a larger wellness initiative and focus on offering fruit, vegetables and other healthy options for their team. To make meal time more social, schedule potlucks or host a mid-afternoon ice cream break to bring different departments together. Offering alcoholic beverages in the office comes with its own set of challenges, so be mindful of this as well.

While nontraditional benefits are certainly attractive to new hires, what really matters most in the end is providing a work environment where your team can flourish. Challenging assignments, supportive leadership and opportunities for personal and professional growth will never go out of style.

For more information on configuring a benefits package that attracts and delights your employees, contact our team today.

Photo by Valerie Miller, WowieGoods