Workplace benefits are perhaps one of the strongest tools for attracting and recruiting talent. In recent years, the number of benefits that are more on the creative and unusual side has been growing. Employers are finding more ways to bring in new employees and keep a positive and productive work environment for them. These benefits include anything from free coffee and snacks to on-site gyms and gym memberships.
With all of the different benefits offered today, however, it’s undeniable that there are some that employees prefer over others — and plenty of benefits they can do without. The most valued perks for employees are related to financial assistance, such as health, dental and vision insurance and benefits that offer more flexibility and improve work-life balance.
In fact, 88% of employees said they would consider health, dental, and vision insurance over anything else. Following closely behind, employees are more likely to consider benefits that offer flexible hours, more vacation time, work-from-home options and unlimited vacation.
What can your company do without? Here are four employee benefits that aren’t going to attract and retain employees as effectively as professionals may think:
1. Free snacks
Although free coffee and food sound like they would be heavily considered, potential workers aren’t likely to consider this perk as much as others. Only 10% of employees said they would give this benefit heavy consideration. Free snacks are unlikely to push the needle when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent.
Food is still a relatively low-cost perk for workplaces, so there’s no harm in keeping them around if your budget can handle it. Just don’t expect snacks to overcome issues like inadequate health insurance, inflexible environments or unsupportive management.
2. Life insurance
Even though health care coverage and financial assistance-related benefits are among the most popular perks that workers consider for jobs, life insurance isn’t as popular.
This is because group life insurance offered to employees doesn’t typically provide enough coverage for individuals. Even though work-life insurance is provided at little to no cost, it’s usually not adequate enough for sizable families or mortgages.
It’s also not as prevalent as group life insurance was a few decades ago. Out of all U.S. adults who have life insurance, only 27% of individuals receive group life insurance coverage from their employers. This figure has especially declined for low- and moderate-income families.
Does your workplace offer life insurance coverage? Consider surveying your workforce to gauge how much they value this perk. If many employees are still purchasing their own insurance to fully cover their families, it’s a sign that your contribution isn’t actually pushing the needle.
3. On-site gyms
Another perk that doesn’t rank high with potential employees is on-site gyms. An on-site gym does sound like an attractive perk, but it doesn’t directly affect a worker’s finances and lifestyle as much as other benefits do.
Similar to the free snacks benefit, it’s still valuable to employees and can play a part in worker retention. However, it’s not a perk that goes into consideration for choosing a workplace. Employees who don’t want to spend longer hours at the office or who have specialized fitness interests - like boutique classes and equipment - won’t find the $40 to $60 membership savings impactful.
4. Company-wide retreats and team bonding events
Company-wide retreats and team-bonding events can get a company’s workers out of the office and heighten morale. These benefits can also help businesses get to know their employees better, reduce stress and give the employees time to decompress in order to improve productivity. Or that’s the argument, anyway.
There’s a reason modern comedy has mined the company retreat for endless gags about draining workplace culture. Retreats aren’t as popular of a perk for job consideration for many employees, especially when they’re mandatory for team members who may not find this environment energizing. Consider putting that money towards optional workshops and speakers that can attract workers with specific professional development opportunities.
The workplace benefits that matter most to employees
In recent years, potential employees have placed a higher value on both financial stability and work-life balance. This is especially true for workers who are looking to establish families and stability in uncertain economic circumstances.
For instance, the rising cost of college has younger potential candidates gravitating towards companies that offer student loan and tuition assistance benefits. Paid parental leave is another financial assistance-related perk that’s heavily considered over other benefits.
Workers are also looking for more flexibility in their work schedules. To reduce stress, improve mental health and better integrate a work-life balance, 94% of U.S. workers in one survey said they would benefit from work flexibility. As far as work flexibility goes, workers mostly value flexible hours and work-from-home options.
The extra fun perks like free food and company-wide retreats are still valued by employees and can, in return, be beneficial for employers. They’re low-cost and can still play a massive role in worker retention. However, when trying to attract talent to work for their companies, employers should consider the benefits that will bring these workers to them.