rp_iStock_000006465873diverse-group-woman-forward1-300x191.jpgWhen you think of workplace perks, you likely think of paid vacation and sick days, or health, dental and vision coverage. But according to a survey conducted by Quill, many American employees are looking for more nontraditional work benefits, such as work-from-home flexibility, family leave, student loan reimbursements, paid volunteer time and the opportunity to take naps in the workplace. While definitely nontraditional, these work perks may be the advantage that your company needs to bring top talent into your company. As an employer, you may be hesitant to implement some or all of these benefits, but there are some important reasons why you should reconsider.

By offering some nontraditional work perks, companies become more desirable and may be better able to attract and keep top talent in their companies.

Employee survey identifies which perks employees find most desirable

Telecommuting.

The ability to telecommute or have the flexibility to work from home is the most desirable nontraditional work perk, according to the Quill survey. Respondents of the survey were broken into three age groups, and while desired benefits varied by age group, half of all respondents reported that the flexibility to work from home was the most desirable benefit. Some employers may be hesitant to offer this perk, as they may fear that employees will be less productive or will produce lower quality or rushed work. And while this may be true some of the time, it’s also true some of the time for employees working in the office. But the benefits for both employee and employer may make you decide to take the plunge. Recent studies show that for the right employees, working from home can increase their productivity and overall job satisfaction, which will likely keep them with your company longer. So while working from home may not work for everyone, employers can offer flexibility on a trial basis to identify which employees can handle the freedom, or they can offer it to only employees that exceed expectations and deserve a reward to ensure a good fit for both employee and employer.

Family Leave.

Family leave, including maternity, paternity and adoption time off, is the second most important work perk, according to nearly 25 percent of respondents in the Quill Survey. Many types of family leave are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including time for birth and bonding or to care for sick family members, but the up to 12 weeks off are unpaid, which can make it difficult for employees to take advantage of the program. That’s why paid family leave is such a desirable perk for both women and men. Many companies expect women to take time off after pregnancy, but only 9 percent of American companies offer paternity leave programs for new fathers. When companies do offer paternity leave programs, 40 percent of the men do not take time off. When both men and women feel protected in their positions and are offered family leave, they are more likely to stay with their company for the long haul.

Student Loan Reimbursements.

College tuition, along with the cost of textbooks, fees and on-campus housing, has been steadily on the rise in recent years, leaving more and more people in tremendous amounts of debt. It’s no surprise then that student loan debt reimbursements are high on the list of desirable work perks. Employers may be hesitant to offer this benefit though, with the fear that once their employees graduate, they will look for better jobs elsewhere. But this shouldn’t be a fear. Instead, employers should focus on creating a good working environment that offers plenty of room for growth for their employees. Then, when employees finish their degree, they will look for promotions internally, rather than externally. This is a win-win for both employees and employers.

Salary is an important component of recruiting, but in some cases, work perks are seen as more valuable than the base pay, according to the Quill survey. So employers should carefully consider which benefits they offer to their current and prospective employees to attract and retain top talent. Some nontraditional benefits that many employees are searching for include the flexibility to telecommute, paid family leave and student loan reimbursements, as well as others such as paid volunteer time or the freedom to take naps in the workplace. While employers may be hesitant to implement some of these strategies, the benefits likely outweigh the negatives as top employees will be better satisfied with their positions and more likely to stay with the company for the long term.

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Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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