Employee benefits we now take for granted, like health insurance and paid time off, have been around for over a hundred years. Very few people accepting a new job would even consider the possibility that a salaried position wouldn't come with sick days and the ability to make a doctor's appointment in the blink of an eye.
In the past few years, companies have been praised for their quirky perks, fun work outings, and lax office policies. A real treat for employees, nonstandard benefits are touted by companies as the secret to their success. Google is perhaps the greatest example: it has the 150-foot rule (employees are never farther than 150 feet from food), the 80-20 policy (20 percent of the employee's workload should be spent on projects of personal interest), and a pile of other benefits its employees love.
While we can't all work at Google (brainteasers and 5+ rounds of interviews aren't for everyone), the recent changes in workplace scenery have brought the world of over-the-top-perks to the everyday employee.
"Unlimited" Days Off
Though not widely embraced just yet, the Unlimited Days Off policy is similar to the "pay-what-you-want" model when it comes to music– when left with their own conscience to guide them, most people don't take advantage of the freedom they've been given. Unlimited days off gives the employee the confidence that their employer trusts them, and the company won't have to worry– an unmonitored employee tends to feel the need to prove him/herself trustworthy and won't take off more days than usual.
The United States does not mandate paid maternity or paternity leave, so offering any, as a business, can be a real draw. Netflix recently made headlines for its new unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads, and is just one example of the types of benefits workers are hoping will be standard someday.
Long gone are the days of the company picnic or a polite lunch. Sure, coworkers will grab some lunch or swing by a happy hour, but nowadays an afternoon at the baseball field is more like it. Bowling after work or a long boozy lunch have somehow become the norm.
Volleyball, broomball, soccer, you name it – employees who play together, stay together. Having coworker camaraderie is a a bit part of what makes a company a close-knit, effective team, and they're learning great skills to boot. Communication, support, and strategy are also important qualities in the workplace, so developing these skills in a fun way is a great way to improve the company as a whole.
A bit of a twist on the group outing is the buddy outing. It's certainly not the norm as far as benefits go, but it's certainly worth hearing about. The buddy outing is a micro version of the group outing and league teams, combined. It's when two coworkers are chosen to pair up and spend a workday doing something non-work related. They could go to breakfast, spend the day kayaking, stop by a museum, or just walk around their city, but they have to do it together, and they have to report back at the next staff meeting. Employees get to know each other one on one, get a little more connected to the place they live and have the added bonus of taking a day out of the office to do so.
Membership to Skillshare, Lynda, or offering discounted classes at a local education center are one of the best ways to combat one of the most common complaints about jobs – employees sometimes feel like they've stopped learning. Try your hand at a new subject or skill (maybe even find a way to apply some fresh knowledge to your workload) and you're bound to be a happy worker.
More and more companies are shaking up traditional benefits and creating flexible, engaging ways to keep their workers satisfied and loyal employees. Does your workplace offer benefits like these?