October 19, 2016

5 Benefits and Incentives Employees Actually Want


We all know that happy employees tend to be the most productive and loyal ones. When it comes to achieving employee happiness, the basics still ring true. Just about everyone responds well to praise, better salaries, more time off, positive company culture, and other employee benefits.

In the end, it all comes down to making your employees feel appreciated. Providing them with benefits and incentives is a great way to show them that you care and that you want them with you for the long run. However, sometimes it’s hard to decide what benefits you should be offering.

When going through the process of determining what types of benefits you have to offer, the most important thing you need to do is narrow your choices down to incentives that you believe a large majority of your employees would enjoy having, regardless of their age or experience. For example, while Millennials tend to respond well to benefits such as company trips and team building events, game rooms or pizza on Fridays, your older workers might not be too excited about these types of benefits.

Today, offering the right benefits is more critical than ever when it comes to keeping employees happy. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management conducted last year, 63 percent of employees believe that quality benefits are very important when it comes to overall job satisfaction.

The trick is to evaluate your options and settle on benefits that are hard not to like. They don’t have to all be monetary, in fact, it’s better that you offer a variety of benefits that don’t just work towards improving your employee’s financial situation, but offer ones that positively influence other aspects of their work lives as well.

Here are five examples of incentives that you can offer that everyone on your staff can immediately benefit from and, in turn, welcome with open arms.

Greater Work Independence

Generally, employees seek guidance from management, but they don’t respond well to being on a short leash and constantly being watched. Most employees respond to greater independence with greater productivity.

Let them know what needs to be done and when it needs to be finished by, but then give them the independence to get the job done according to their preferences. Taking into consideration the work preferences of your staff is a huge part of giving them greater independence. If you have hourly workers, include them in the process of creating their work schedules by asking them what hours and days work best for them.

Let them tell you about their availability so that they can not only get the shifts they want, but management can also have the information it needs to create schedules that take everyone’s needs into consideration.

Independence is not about letting your staff run wild. It’s about avoiding micro-management and allowing them to get their tasks done in a way that works best for them. If you want to give your employees a meaningful level of independence, do it in two steps: first, involve them more in planning their work projects and tasks, then show them that you trust them by giving them enough breathing room to complete their tasks without being micro-managed.

Studies have proven that autonomy not only breeds happier employees but also increases productivity. It’s a win-win situation.

Education and Development Opportunities

Your best employees are always looking to learn new things and move up in the ranks. It’s your job to facilitate the possibility of development within your company if you want to keep them. According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor in 2014, more than 60 percent of employees believe that the best way for them to advance their careers is to receive special training and learn new skills on the job.

This is another one of those situations that you can easily chalk up as a win-win situation for your business. By providing your employees with the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, you are keeping them engaged and happy while creating better employees and potential future leaders for yourself.

Development is, in fact, so important to employees that a majority rank it higher on their list of motivators than getting raises. Another great thing about providing educational opportunities for your employees is the fact that education assistance and sending your employees back to school is tax-exempt.

Offering your employees the chance to learn new skills and to grow professionally within your ranks demonstrates to them that they have earned your trust and that you believe in them.

employee benefits

Better Healthcare Options

Healthcare costs are always on the rise and now more than ever, employees really care about having quality health coverage. To help meet these needs as an employer, one route you can go is to introduce health savings accounts for your employees.

Again, it’s another win-win case. The contributions that you make to employee health savings accounts are tax-free and by taking this route, you are also maintaining better control of the healthcare plans you offer, which allows you to save even more money if you are willing to be diligent about it.

Employees also love health savings accounts because they can be transferred from company to company. Essentially, that means that if they leave your company and start working for another company that offers a similar program, the money they have accrued while working with you will remain in their accounts no matter what and continue to grow.

Research on the topic shows that employees tend to love this approach. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, almost half of employees asked said that they were either extremely or very satisfied with their consumer health savings plans.

Benefits for Commuters

Employers sometimes forget that the work day starts for many employees a lot earlier than the minute they clock in to their shifts. The commute to and from work is not only a big part of many people’s days, it also happens to be one of the most stressful parts of the workday for many.

Studies have shown that the commute has a very real effect on the well-being of your employees, especially if it is a stressful one. According to a study published in Transportation Research, people who commute to work via any mode of transportation tend to be more anxious and stressed out at the workplace as a result.

Because of this, there are many states that are now offering employees commuter benefits, which are once again excellent for both staff and employers. While the commute will inevitably remain an inconvenience for most, the fact that the money spent on getting to work and returning home isn’t coming out of their pockets helps to make it all a bit easier for many employees to cope with. And since commuter benefits are tax-free transportation benefits, payroll taxes do not apply to employers.

employee benefits definition

Performance Bonuses

A study performed by the American Psychological Association shows that employees perform at a higher level when they feel as if they are appreciated and valued by management. Offering achievement awards and performance bonuses is a great way to not only motivate your staff, but also show your appreciation.

The bonuses or awards don’t always have to be monetary either. You can talk to your employees and ask them what types of awards they would prefer. Perhaps some would rather take extra vacation time over money.

That’s another important thing to think about when starting to brainstorm ideas for offering employee benefits. Poll your staff and ask them about it. Let them tell you what they find most important and what types of benefits they would most appreciate. Sure, you might not be able to reach a full consensus, but getting honest input from your staff throughout the process is the best way to start putting an effective benefit program together for your team.