20 Out-of-the-Box Employee Benefits

By Matt Longman | 09/15/2016

Working for a large corporation typically comes with traditional benefits: health insurance, paid time off, and a 401k. But as more millennials and members of Gen X enter the workforce, small and medium-sized businesses have been able to attract these groups with more innovative offerings. To compete for the top talent, more and more companies have begun to think outside the box when it comes to employee perks. Salary will always be high on the priority list for potential employees, but creative benefit strategies are becoming more common than ever before.

According to a recent Forbes study, 95% of Americans consider job benefits and perks before deciding whether to take a new position or stay in their current one. Business leaders may want to review and consider adopting some (or all) of the top 20 unique employee benefits proven to boost morale and attract top talent.

1. On-Site Child Care Facilities

Childcare can be a huge priority for employees with young families. At SAS,1 they help to ease this burden by providing on-site childcare for employees at their corporate headquarters, and stipends for area daycare centers at other locations.

2. Free Food

Food is a major expense, so free food is a popular perk. Zappos2 offers its employees free breakfast, lunch and snacks.

3. Paternity Leave

Maternity leave is offered at most large companies, but now many companies are offering paid leave to fathers as well. . This perk is especially attractive for millennial workers, who strive for more egalitarian gender roles.3

4. Continuing Education

Many companies offer some sort of tuition reimbursement program for current employees. Starbucks4 recently extended this benefit to all its part-time and full-time employees in the United States, offering all employees free tuition to earn a bachelor's degree through Arizona State University Online.

5. Fitness Benefits

Employee wellness continues to be a growing benefit as it also provides a return for employers, with fewer sick days and higher productivity. Many companies have added on-site gyms, health and nutrition programs, and lifestyle change initiatives.

6. On-Site Medical Staff

Companies like JC Penney draw interest from candidates in all industries, and are known to offer many unique benefits. One of the most popular benefits at JCPenney is on-site medical staff provided by Concentra.5 Having physicians and nurses onsite makes seeing a doctor extremely convenient.

7. House Cleaning

To help relieve the worry about duties at home, Evernote6 offers free twice-monthly housecleaning. They want their employees – and their employees’ spouses – to be completely enthusiastic about sticking with the company.

8. Spa Services

Another way to combat stress? Enjoy a nice massage, or get a manicure during your lunch break. Reducing stress has been proven to boost employee productivity. BodyLogicMD pampers their employees with spa services7—keeping their employees happy and productive at work.

9. Bring Your Dog To Work

Some companies allow employees to bring their dogs to the workplace. Studies have shown that pets help to reduce stress and improve overall health, so why not extend that benefit to work?

10. Laundry Services

JibJab Media8 collects a full bag of laundry from their employees every Monday, and returns it the next day, clean and folded.

11. “Unlimited” Time Off

Netflix and Virgin9 don’t track their employees’ vacation time, instead allowing employees and their managers to work out reasonable schedules. They believe great employees who care about delivering quality work don’t need hard policies about how much time they can take off.

12. No Official Work Hours

Netflix also doesn’t track employee work hours.10 As long as the work is done and done well, they don’t really care whether the office operates beyond the standard 9-to-5.

13. Adoption Assistance

Adoption assistance has become a popular benefit offered by companies who believe in helping their employees grow their families. This coverage often includes financial assistance with adoption and additional time off to welcome a new child.

14. Legal Assistance

There are usually restrictions on what kind of assistance is available, but free legal counsel can be a relief in assisting with family planning, legal notices, and contracts.

15. Spouse Death Benefits

Google gives an employee's spouse half the salary of the deceased for 10 years in an effort to take care of an employee’s family.

16. Free Public Transportation

For employers located in urban areas, many employers assist with parking expenses either through reimbursement or free bus or subway passes.

17. New Baby Fund

Facebook11 gives employees $4,000 in cash when they have a child.

18. Free or Discounted Products

Many companies are leveraging partnerships to share their product benefits to all employees. All Comcast employees receive free internet and cable services. And Gap employees enjoy a discount at all of the retailer’s brands.

19. Free Drinks

Many creative firms offer to subsidize craft beer for the office. With specifications around when it’s okay to have a drink at work, this is a popular benefit among younger employees and helps to boost morale, especially on those long Friday afternoons.

20. Wellness Programs

Many companies turn to Viverae12 to help them implement comprehensive wellness programs, encouraging employees to live healthy lifestyles by providing perks. Depending upon the company, an employee who records a certain number of workouts per week could receive an extra paid day off.

There are many unique benefits and perks companies can offer to enhance morale--and maybe snag that perfect candidate before someone else does. To help your company stay competitive, it may be beneficial to do an annual review of your company’s benefits and find out what appeals most to your employees. There is always a way to fit a unique benefit into your plan.


[1] http://www.sas.com/en_us/careers/life-at-sas.html#benefits
[2] http://about.zappos.com/jobs/why-work-zappos/our-benefits
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/upshot/millennial-men-find-work-and-family-hard-to-balance.html?_r=2&abt=0002&abg=0
[4] http://www.starbucks.com/careers/college-plan
[5] http://www.concentra.com/
[6] https://evernote.com/careers/
[7] http://www.learnvest.com/2014/08/unique-employee-benefits/2/
[8] http://www.jibjab.com/ecards/dances
[9] http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/why-were-letting-virgin-staff-take-as-much-holiday-as-they-want
[10] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5134-cool-job-benefits.html
[11] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-07-04/silicon-valley-perks/56021130/1
[12] http://www.viverae.com/