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Employee perks, often considered as valuable additions to standard compensation packages, play a pivotal role in attracting, retaining, and motivating talented individuals within a company. These perks encompass a wide array of benefits, extending beyond traditional salary and insurance offerings. 

What are employee perks? 

Employee perks are additional benefits or advantages employers offer their employees beyond their regular salary or wages. These perks can take various forms, such as health insurance, retirement plans, flexible work hours, remote work options, gym memberships, professional development opportunities, and other non-monetary incentives designed to enhance the overall work experience.

Why are employee perks important?

Employee perks are important due to the following reasons

  • Attracting talent: Competitive perks can make a company more attractive to potential employees. They can be a factor for job seekers choosing between job offers.
  • Retention: Perks can increase job satisfaction and loyalty, reducing employee turnover. They can make employees feel valued and appreciated, increasing their commitment to the company.
  • Productivity: Some perks, like flexible work hours or wellness programs, can directly contribute to an employee’s productivity. They can help create a work environment where employees are healthier, happier, and more motivated.
  • Company culture: Perks can help create a positive company culture. They can foster a sense of community and camaraderie among employees.
  • Work-life balance: Perks like remote work options or generous vacation policies can help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, improving their overall well-being and job satisfaction.

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What are some examples of employee perks?

The examples of employee perks are: 

  • Health and wellness: Comprehensive health insurance is a common perk that covers a portion of an employee’s health care costs. Gym memberships promote physical health and can increase productivity and morale. Wellness programs might include initiatives like health screenings, weight loss programs, stress management classes, and smoking cessation programs. 
  • Professional development: Tuition reimbursement can cover the costs of furthering an employee’s education, which can be beneficial for both the employee and the company. Professional training courses can help employees improve their skills and knowledge in their field. Opportunities for career advancement can include things like leadership training programs or a clear path to promotion.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Remote work options allow employees to work from home or another location outside of the office. Flexible work hours, often known as flextime, allow employees to adjust their work schedules to better fit their personal needs. Sabbaticals are extended periods of leave that allow employees to pursue personal projects or relaxation without leaving their job.
  • Financial benefits: Competitive salaries ensure that employees are being paid fairly for their work. Retirement plans, like 401(k) plans in the U.S., help employees save for their future. 
  • Time off: Generous vacation policies give employees time to rest and recharge. Paid holidays are days off when employees still receive their regular pay. Paid parental leave provides time off for parents to care for a new child, which can be particularly important for supporting gender equality in the workplace.
  • Office perks: Free meals or snacks can make the office a more comfortable and convenient place to work. A well-equipped workspace might include things like ergonomic chairs, high-quality monitors, or standing desks. Recreational activities can help employees relax and bond with their coworkers.
  • Unique perks: Some companies offer unique perks to stand out from other employers. For example, a pet-friendly office can make work more enjoyable for animal lovers. Free books can support an employee’s personal and professional development. A travel stipend can cover some or all of the costs of traveling, which can be particularly appealing for employees who love to explore new places.

What are the differences between employee perks and employee benefits?

The differences between employee perks and employee benefits are: 

1. Purpose and focus

  • Employee benefits: These are essential elements of compensation that address basic needs and well-being. Common benefits include health insurance, retirement plans, life insurance, and paid time off. Benefits are designed to provide financial security and support the overall health of employees.
  • Employee perks: Perks, on the other hand, are additional incentives and amenities that go beyond the fundamental needs. They are often designed to enhance the work experience and promote work-life balance. Examples include flexible work schedules, gym memberships, free meals, and professional development opportunities.

2. Necessity vs. enhancement

  • Employee benefits: Benefits are considered necessities and are typically standardized across employees. They are crucial for meeting legal and regulatory requirements and are expected components of employment.
  • Employee perks: Perks are not essential for basic employment but are offered to enhance the overall work experience. They are often used as a tool to attract and retain top talent and differentiate an organization's workplace culture.

3. Standardization vs. customization

  • Employee benefits: Benefits are generally standardized to ensure fairness and equity among employees. They are offered to all employees and are not typically customizable on an individual basis.
  • Employee perks: Perks may be more flexible and can sometimes be tailored to individual preferences or needs. Employers may offer a variety of perks and allow employees to choose the ones that align with their preferences.

4. Long-term vs. immediate gratification

  • Employee benefits: Benefits usually provide long-term security and stability, such as retirement savings and healthcare coverage.
  • Employee perks: Perks often provide immediate gratification and contribute to the day-to-day satisfaction and well-being of employees.

How can employers tailor perks to meet the diverse needs of their employees?

Tailoring perks to meet the diverse needs of employees requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach that considers the varying preferences, lifestyles, and priorities of the workforce. 

Here are several strategies employers can employ to customize perks effectively:

  • Conduct employee surveys: Gather feedback through surveys to understand the specific needs and preferences of your employees. Ask about their interests, priorities, and the types of perks they value. This data can guide the selection and customization of perks.
  • Offer flexible options: Provide a range of perks rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, offer different wellness options, such as gym memberships, fitness classes, or wellness stipends, allowing employees to choose what aligns with their personal preferences.
  • Consider different life stages: Recognize that employees may be at different life stages, with varying needs and priorities. Offer perks that accommodate different stages, such as parental leave, childcare support, or flexible scheduling options.
  • Include financial well-being perks: Acknowledge the importance of financial well-being and provide perks that address this aspect. This could include financial planning assistance, student loan repayment programs, or even access to financial wellness workshops.
  • Emphasize work-life balance: Recognize the importance of work-life balance and offer perks that support it. This could include flexible work hours, remote work options, or initiatives to reduce employee burnout.
  • Customizable benefits packages: Consider allowing employees to customize their benefits packages based on their individual needs. This may involve providing a set budget for perks or a menu of options that employees can choose from.
  • Stay informed about trends: Keep abreast of evolving workplace trends and employee expectations. Regularly review and update your perk offerings to ensure they remain relevant and appealing to a diverse workforce.
  • Promote inclusivity: Ensure that perks are inclusive and accessible to all employees, regardless of background or circumstances. Be mindful of cultural and demographic diversity to avoid unintentional exclusions.
  • Encourage employee feedback: Establish open channels for ongoing communication and feedback. Encourage employees to share their thoughts on existing perks and propose new ideas, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and responsiveness.
  • Provide personal development opportunities: Recognize the importance of professional growth and development. Offer perks such as training programs, mentorship opportunities, or educational stipends to support employees in their career aspirations.

How do you use employee perks in the workplace?

Ways to use employee perks in the workplace are:

  • Identify needs: Conduct surveys or have open discussions to understand what perks your employees value the most. This could vary widely based on demographics, job roles, and personal preferences.
  • Design perks: Design perks that align with your company’s culture and values, and meet the identified needs of your employees. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all. The more personalized the perks, the better.
  • Communicate clearly: Make sure employees are aware of the perks available to them. Clear and regular communication is key. This could be through emails, meetings, or an employee handbook.
  • Easy access: Ensure that the perks are easy to access and use. If the process is complicated, employees might not take advantage of them.
  • Regular review: Regularly review and update the perks as needed. Gather feedback from employees to understand what’s working and what’s not.
  • Promote usage: Encourage employees to take advantage of the perks. This could be through reminders, success stories, or incentives.

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