The Benefits of Benefits: The Evolution of Workplace Perks

As workplace expectations evolve and competition for attracting and retaining top talent heats up, companies both large and small have responded by sweetening the pot with regards to benefits. Financial compensation will likely always be the top motivating factor for employees, but benefits really are a factor and employers have responded by offering perks that range from practical to almost novel. In the past we spoke about how attracting top talent required a nuanced approach. Let’s examine some of the ways that companies are rewarding their employees today.

Parental Leave Benefits

Few events in life are as momentous as the arrival of a child and companies, as well as governments, are continuously creating strategies to provide balance in the days, weeks and months surrounding birth. The rules surrounding parental leave in Canada have evolve and they differ from those in the US, where companies are attempting to differentiate themselves by providing extended breaks and favourable policies relating to child birth. Lululemon have announced that they will offer up to six months of gender-neutral paid parental leave in an effort to attract and retain hourly workers.[1] Other companies have instituted similar, if less generous policies, including VF Corporation, which is the parent company of garment brands such as The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler, Vans and Lees.

Policies of Higher Learning

It is accepted as common knowledge that education is key to workforce development and a common goal for many in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is also a goal that is unattainable to many who feel unable to meet the financial obligation or time commitments that are required. Companies are stepping up and assisting their workforce in this pursuit. Starbucks offers the College Achievement Plan, which offers full coverage of tuition for full and part time employers enrolling in ASU Online for a bachelor’s degree. The program doesn’t stop at financial assistance, either, as coaches and advisors are made available to offer tutoring and support.[2] Amazon has a tuition assistance program of its own, as does Boeing, McDonalds and other employers. With frequent disruptions to various industries and with AI leading to an ever-evolving role of humans in the workplace, look for educational initiatives and re-training programs to be a popular incentive moving forward.

Mental Health Initiatives in the Workplace

As we noted in a recent blog post, companies have begun pushing mental health awareness to the forefront of company culture, part of a broader societal effort to shine a spotlight upon issues concerning mental health. Sometimes company initiatives take the form of benefits such as support services and time-off policies for those dealing with mental health issues, but more and more they also include softer but equally important steps designed simply to address the issue within company culture. Amex’s ‘Healthy Minds’ campaign encourages employees to share their stories via video and social media, while Barclays president Uzair Patel shares openly of his struggles with depression as part of the ‘This Is Me’ program.[3]With so many people becoming more open about their mental health and with many millennials in particular suffering from burnout,  these programs have never been more vital.

The Good, the Great and the Tasty

When it comes to perks and benefits, the only limit seems to be imagination. Companies often attempt to tie their perks to their core business. PetSmart, for example, offer discounts on merchandise and grooming, assistance with vet bills and even allows employees to bring their pets to work.[4] Ice cream retailer Ben & Jerrys may buck the health trend with their 3-pints a day shareable ice cream offer, but the program is surely a hit with friends of employees. Airbnb provides their employees with travel incentives, another obvious fit, while airlines famously retain employees with their free flight offerings.  

Steelcase have stations in their cafeterias where employees can collect healthy ingredients to take home, helping to curb the temptation for evening take out, while Google’s wide ranging perks cover everything from meals to laundry to haircuts[5], creating a sort of lifestyle package that can be hard to step away from.

Companies that are generous and inventive with their employee benefits package will not only have a leg up in talent attraction and retention, but will also receive favorable attention from the public at large. Corporate responsibility is a major part of an organization’s branding; leading the pack through innovative benefits appeals to progressively inclined consumers in the marketplace.



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Karen Epp

Karen Epp, CPC is the Senior Finance and Accounting Recruiter at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc and brings over twenty years of experience recruiting professionals in Accounting, Finance, Insurance, Banking, and Human Resources. One of the advantages of working with Karen in your search for Accounting Professionals is the extensive long standing relationships with candidates and reputable clients.

Senior Recruiter at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.