The New Perks: What Employees Want Today

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Facebook employees are shown on the campus in Menlo Park, Calif.
Facebook employees are shown on the campus in Menlo Park, Calif., Friday, March 15, 2013. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

Workplace perks have evolved beyond traditional health-care benefits and vacation time. Today, employees want more of a work-life balance and ask for perks that will enhance their quality of life in and outside of the office.

For example, a study sponsored by Oxford Health Plans Inc. found that if employers offer a membership to a health club as a perk, 72% of employees will use it. Employees are also taking advantage of what was once considered unconventional perks -- massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, etc. In fact, the study reports that these "alternative" perks have become mainstream, and that 60% of employees surveyed use these perks frequently.

Another bonus that appeals to employees is the option to bring a pet to work. Both male and female employees took advantage of this perk. At least 55% of men would use this benefit, as well as 49% of women.

"These perks should no longer be considered alternatives but mainstays since they're well-accepted among workers and demonstrate an employer's commitment to promoting wellness in the workplace," Alan Muney, the chief medical officer and executive vice president at Oxford, said in a press release.

"It's especially important for employers to think about this now, at a time of year when employees often have the option of changing their benefit choices."

Here's a list of the newer perks that employees seek in a new job, according to KelloggForum.com, an education blog:

Workplace Benefits

It's no longer enough to have a good job. Employees want a good office environment.

  • Greater flexibility: Innovations include flex time, which allows workers to set their own hours (10-6, 8-4, 10-hour workdays and Fridays off, etc.), half-day Fridays and the option to telecommute (work from home, generally over a modem).
  • Food and drink: It's all the rage in the internet industry. Employees get free food, drink and sometimes even beer.
  • Facilities: In many larger office complexes, employees have access to ATMs, dry cleaning services, on-site child care, concierge services, hair stylists and the like. Games such as foosball and air hockey have also become fairly common, another vestige from the dot.com boom. (Ingenious employers realized that by conceding one hour of playtime, they could justify expecting their workers to put in 12-hour days.)
  • Casual dress: Spend less money on suits and less time getting dressed in the morning.
  • Commuting expense reimbursement: Get back the money you spend on gas, mileage and mass-transit passes. This is a tremendous benefit.

Out-of-Workplace Benefits

  • Vacation time: Obviously, the more the better. Ironically, the surest way to increase productivity is to offer plenty of vacation time. While Americans don't quite grasp this notion, Europeans have it down to a science.
  • Holidays: The more recognized, the better. Plus, many companies offer two or more "floating holidays," which are essentially vacation days workers can use to (wildly) celebrate criminally unrecognized holidays, like Flag Day.
  • Sick/personal days: Again, the more, the better. If at all possible, come to work when you're sick so you don't have to waste precious sick days in bed oozing various salty fluids.
  • Sabbaticals: These aren't very common, especially for lower-level workers. Essentially, you can take leave (generally unpaid) with the guarantee of a job when you return.
  • Tuition reimbursement/discounts to cultural events: It behooves a company to keep its employers well-rounded and inquisitive. One way to ensure this is through adult education (job specific or otherwise) and discounted admission/memberships to museums, theaters, etc.

For more career advice or to search for military-friendly employers, visit Military.com's Careers Channel.

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