Talented employees look for more than the traditional benefits package. Now that remote work has put the entire world at their fingertips, applicants have more options.
Aflac reported that 38% of employees think that a comprehensive benefits package shows that their employer cares. So, to stay competitive, you’ll need to offer creative employee benefits that other employers aren’t.
But what benefits are attractive to employees? What do they really want? What benefits can you afford? Think beyond things like on-tap beer and casual Fridays. Thinking outside the box helps attract qualified global applicants and retain your current employees.
We’ve compiled a list of unique employee benefits to level up your offerings.
1. Home Office Stipends
A remote work stipend, sometimes called a home office stipend, is a bonus sum of money that employers give employees to improve their quality of life while working from home. Some employers name specific things that employees must spend their stipends on (think internet bills or desk supplies), while others let the employees decide.
Example: You give your employees $500 per year to upgrade their offices with new equipment, chairs, etc.
2. Discounted Phone or Internet Plans
Remote offices rely on the internet and other technology. Assisting employees with these bills makes them feel more supported at work and set up with the tools they need to succeed. Plus, employers can pay for more premium plans that will give employees faster internet speeds.
Example: Once per month, you give employees an additional $100 on their paychecks to cover internet and phone bills.
3. Standing Desks
Prolonged periods of sitting are linked to health problems like back pain, vascular issues, heart disease, and even cancer. Standing desks help break up the time sitting during the workday by allowing employees to raise their desks. Purchasing a standing desk for new hires will help support their mental and physical health.
Example: During onboarding, send new hires a standing desk. For current employees, reimburse their purchase of a standing desk.
4. Virtual Hangouts
Some employees report feeling isolated while working from home, and 50% said they feel lonely at least once per week. You can provide your employees with a community at work by hosting virtual, non-work hangouts that will let your employees get to know each other in a casual setting.
Example: Once per month, host a virtual happy hour that takes up the last hour of the workday. That way, employees get to mingle and meet each other without having to stay at work late.
5. Flexible Workspaces
Not everyone thrives working from home. Providing access to a global network of flexible workspaces, like coworking spaces and open offices, empowers your employees to find a convenient workspace that helps them stay focused, productive, and collaborative—no matter where they are.
Example: Encourage your remote employees who work in the same or nearby cities to meet at a local flexible workspace once a month to collaborate on tasks and projects in person.
6. Learning and Development Budgets
Learning and development budgets are a win-win. Not only will your employees feel that you’re invested in their growth within the company, but you can also upskill your employees to be promoted internally down the line. L&D budgets go to training, conferences, or other tools employees need to level up.
Example: Each quarter, you offer to pay the admission fee for one conference or training day employees want to attend.
7. Unlimited PTO
Unlimited PTO means you give your employees as much vacation, sick, or mental health time as they want. Limitless PTO is growing in popularity. In a poll for Fortune, 50% of workers said they’d take a job with less pay that didn’t put limits on its employee's vacation time.
Example: In addition to federal or company holidays, your employees can take an unlimited amount of paid time off.
8. Extended Maternity and Paternity Leave
Maternity leave is generally about 12–14 weeks long for those who are eligible. That leaves parents in the position of having to work right up until the baby is born to enjoy three months with their newborn or have to return to the office quicker if they take time off before the baby is born. Extended maternity and paternity leave gives parents more time to adjust to parenthood and take care of their new child.
Example: Employees have enough leave to take the last month of the pregnancy off work and return once their child is a few months old.
Learn more in our complete guide to paid maternity leave by country.
9. Sabbaticals for Long-Term Employees
Repay long-term employees by giving them extended paid time off after a certain number of years with your company. Sabbaticals usually last one to six months and allow employees to take extended paid leave to focus on their interests, health, travel, or other passions.
Example: After four years of full-time employment, you give employees two months off.
10. Birthday PTO
Birthdays are a special day, yet employees might not take them off to save for vacation days they deem more important. Giving your employees their birthday off without making them specifically request it will make them feel celebrated and relaxed without docking their PTO.
Example: Keep a Google Calendar with your teams’ birthdays so you can play ahead for their day off.
11. Volunteer Days Off
Many employees — especially younger ones — are interested in companies that invest in social good. More than just communicating your commitment to charitable causes, show employees you mean it by giving them time off to volunteer.
Example: Once per quarter, allow employees to take a day off and sign up for a volunteer event with a local cause of their choice.
12. Employer-Paid or Affordable Healthcare
In some countries, healthcare might not be available to all citizens. For those who secure healthcare through their jobs, many employees appreciate healthcare options that are fully or partly paid for by their employer. This affirms that you care for your employee’s physical and mental health.
Example: You offer employees a fully employer-paid plan but give them options to upgrade (at a reduced cost) if they want more options.
13. Childcare Reimbursement
Childcare can be a barrier to employment. Providing childcare helps employees with young children succeed in the workplace. You can provide stipends to help employees pay for their own childcare or have an on-site daycare if your organization works in a centralized office.
Example: You set a childcare budget and allow employees to select a daycare that works for them.
14. Student Loan Assistance
When jobs require a college degree, many applicants will most likely have student loan debt. In those cases, student loan assistance takes some of the financial strain off your roster. Employers are able to make payments on an employee’s student loans.
Example: You pledge to make a $200 payment on student loans each month for employees who prove they’re actively making payments.
15. Generous 401(k) Matching
401(k) matching is when an employer matches their employees’ contributions to their retirement savings account. This allows employees to save more money for their retirement and is an attractive benefit for people of all ages. Employers can either match dollar-for-dollar or a partial match on each dollar. Usually, employers match somewhere between 3 and 8% of the employee’s salary.
Example: You match an employee’s 401(k) contribution dollar-for-dollar up to 6% for each paycheck.
16. Referral Bonuses
Show your employees you trust their judgment by offering referral bonuses for employees who are hired from internal recommendations. Some companies give referral bonuses as soon as the employee signs their offer letter, while others pay it once the employee has been at the company for a certain amount of time.
Example: An employee recommends someone for an open role. After that person has been at the company for three months, you give the referring employee a $1,000 bonus.
17. Four-Day Workweek
A four-day workweek is another growing global trend. These models allow employees to work four days instead of the traditional five. Some companies do this by letting their rosters shorten their workweek to 32 hours, while others have employees work 10 hours per day for four days to maintain a 40-hour workweek.
Example: You deploy an optional program where employees can work 10-hour days in exchange for a three-day weekend.
18. Asynchronous Work
Asynchronous work means you don’t have to log into work at the same time as your coworkers. This is an especially helpful employee benefit for global teams, which may be dispersed throughout different time zones. This benefit will make global employees comfortable applying to your company.
Example: You don’t have suggested or firm work hours as long as your team gets their work done by the due date.
19. Flexible Start and End Times
Allowing a window for the start of the workday rather than a set time makes your office more flexible. If employees are able to report to work any time from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., for example, early birds can get there when it’s convenient, while those with early-morning obligations and appointments can show up closer to 10.
Example: Employees can show up any time within the start window that works for them, which varies day by day.
20. Mental Health Workshops
Showing your employees that you care about their mental wellbeing shows them that they’re more than just workers to you. Investing in mental health workshops gives your employees the tools they need to care for their mental health in and out of the office. These workshops cover things like where and how to find treatment, coping techniques, and asking for days off.
Example: Some mental health courses cover ways to talk with your employees or coworkers about problems they experience to help them cope.
21. Mindfulness App Subscriptions
Practicing mindfulness at work is proven to reduce stress levels. In a study by Aetna, researchers found that employees who regularly practiced it experienced a 28% reduction in stress levels and a 20% increase in sleep quality. Giving your employees a free subscription to a mindfulness app helps them get started with this practice at work.
Example: Some mindfulness apps allow companies to bulk purchase subscriptions for their employees.
22. Employee Assistance Programs
An employee assistance program (EAP) is a program that gives employees access to short-term counseling, mental health assessments, and referrals to outside services for any mental or emotional issues. EAP counselors work with organizations to strengthen their workforce’s mental health. In times of trauma or turmoil, EAPs also help employees and managers solve the issue.
Example: If an employee at your organization was experiencing substance abuse, they could contact the EAP at no cost to get short-term counseling and referrals to a therapy program.
23. Discounted Travel Packages
Many companies stress the importance of employee benefits like paid time off. Yet, for some employees, travel might not be an option. Since travel has been proven to increase mental health and productivity at work, employers might want to also stress the importance of getting out of town (or at least taking a staycation). Offering vacation discount packages make travel more accessible for all employees.
Example: Some employers offer stipends for travel needs like flights, hotels, or rental cars.
Get more inspiration: Top 10 Countries for Employee Benefits
Growing your business — especially globally — takes planning, strategy, and know-how. For many employers, it also involves innovative techniques and offerings to attract and retain employees. With so much on your plate, you shouldn’t let compliance fall to the back burner. That’s where an employer of record steps in.
Want more info? Download our guide to learn more about how offering comprehensive benefits packages helps you attract and retain top talent globally.