What Office Perks Are Relevant For Retaining Employees Today?

Posted on February 19, 2021 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

(Updated October 2023)

When we look at what makes a great work culture, perks are not everything. But do they add a certain sense of care, adventure, excitement, and attention to detail that shows investment in your employee’s wellness overall. With so many aspects of work being different three years after the start of the pandemic, how are companies reimagining office perks? Without an in-house beer tap or ping pong lounge, managers are having to dig deep and come up with new ways to show their companies are great places to work.

Work from home already comes with so many perks. No commute, more casual dress, saving money by eating at home, more time with family or to balance fitness and other hobbies. So why is it still crucial for organizations to put effort towards office perks? What office perks are even relevant in 2024? Let us know in the comments below if your organization is doing anything creative and out of the box to reinvent benefits!

Employee Health And Wellness Are The New KPIs

At this point, more than 5 million Americans have experimented with working from home for nearly three years, and we’re curious to know, what has changed during that time? Without a doubt, the ongoing health crisis has begged the question, was the way we were working before truly the most beneficial, in tune, and productive?

We can start with looking at mental health and how it relates to business and job satisfaction. Experts have said that remaining uncertainty and a slow return to normalcy will negatively influence employee’s mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association, roughly 1 in 4 adults have been diagnosed or struggle with depression, and end up taking additional time off every year due to mental health issues.

The purpose of bringing up this rather grim statistic is to indicate the widespread relevance of mental health. No team or company is absolved of the long-term effects of our entire lives changing. From another survey by MetLife, 60% of employees struggling with mental health said their employer doesn’t offer programs that meet their needs or the programs offered can be challenging to access or understand.

It’s worth taking a closer look at this gap in order to understand how useful the efforts companies are making on mental health are, and if there is an opportunity to pivot towards something better. It’s also worth noting that undying pressure to be “always on” or constantly available for your company needs to be dialed back as tough economic continue and teams have even smaller bandwidth.

HR organization CIPD reported that 37% of respondents to a survey have felt an increase in stress-related absences over the last year, while nearly 60% felt their teams were dealing with more mental health issues in general. We must focus on wellbeing and avoid counterproductive ideas about what working successfully means. Encourage your people to ask for what they need, and have conversations about time management and stress.

The bottom line is to put forth a heightened effort towards prioritizing employee’s health, safety, and overall wellness. It’s nothing new that employers have a role in supporting and providing for their employees financially and otherwise, but our culture and perspective to what extent this should occur is changing.

How Have Office spaces changed?

Shifting our perspective when it comes to health and wellness is helpful, but how does it inform what to do with physical office spaces? We are already seeing new approaches to utilizing office space, like condensing big co-working spaces to smaller, more intimate room or pods for connecting.

One brilliant idea that Coloradans have already embraced is more curated outdoor spaces. Any old park won’t do, we mean spaces that are specifically designed for doing work, then taking a break for physical activities or dining. These spaces would host opportunities for social interaction, and provide a safe space outside of our homes. A growing trend in apartment searches is for patios, rooftops, and more private places for people to not be cooped up working indoors. After months of doing so, it makes sense that employees are seeking sun and fresh air at home and at the office.

While new buildings, residential and otherwise, were already focusing more on outdoor spaces, the demand for these spaces has skyrocketed. Developments like Watermark, a new luxury rental building in Washington D.C., will feature a roof deck with an infinity pool, seating, fire pits, and grills, as well lower-level patios, an outdoor dog run, and a boardwalk along the river. These features are attractive to people, and we’re seeing a new business model develop for spaces that incorporate indoor and outdoor activities for a comprehensive experience. One example here in Colorado is Gravity Haus, with locations in Denver, Breck and Vail that can host fitness classes, business meetings, happy hours, and families.

Fringe Benefit Ideas For Dispersed Teams in 2024

We’ve found a few other creative fringe perks that are great to supplement a robust benefits package. There is no right answer for formulating a foolproof perks and benefits package, but as long as you are in tune with your employees needs, they can guide your decisions on building a system that makes everyone happy.

  1. Break Out of the “Cool Office” Box
    • Talent mobility platform Topia recently did a study to find out what factors make a great employee experience. As it turns out, only 16% of people said a cool office space with snacks and games were a priority for their happiness. Empowerment, trust, job training opportunities, and technology all scored above having a fun office, so consider how these other factors are also “perks” and contribute to satisfaction more than flashy spaces. This translates into training opportunities, learning budgets, and updating technology tools and software programs regularly.

  2. Adventure Benefits
    • Could we have labeled this gym memberships or fitness perks? Well sure, but here at BWBacon adventure benefits mean so much more. Whether we are working with First Descents heli-skiing in Silverton, or ATVing in the mountains, we try to branch beyond basic gym memberships to incorporate the most modern ideas. Could you provide your team with an experience or choice of experience to boost their physical wellness and sense of adventure?

  3. Touchless Tech and Souped-Up Package Rooms
    • At BWBacon’s current office building, each person has an app that open the building’s doors at any time of day. The current atmosphere of the virus and sanitation make this hi-tech perk super relevant, and we predict more tech that supports touchless interactions will become mainstay for businesses. We could see a jump in the utilization of automation, augmented reality, and AI to support teams in their presentations, when collaborating, and anything that makes it feel like we are together when we are not.

  4. Financial Wellness Programs
    • Another up-and-coming benefit more companies are investing in is financial wellness or support programs for employees. Financial stress can impact an employee’s ability to get work done, and the pandemic emphasized just how important a solid financial understanding can be. Whether you decide to use an app, or reach out to financial consultants to support your people, this is a very practical perk that can help employees reach goals of investing, buying a house, or starting a family.

  5. Social Responsibility Perks
    • Time off for volunteer days can have a hugely positive influence on your organization through the goodwill of participating in charity. However, a few days off to give back to the local community in a year is just one small aspect of social responsibility perks that are growing in popularity. Many companies have started to match personal donations that employees make to causes they care about, or invest more seriously in diversity and inclusion initiatives that are long overdue. As we enter into a new age of corporate social justice, these creative perks that give back will become more commonplace.

  6. Personal Development Budget
    • Last but certainly not least, personal development budgets are a meaningful perk that that benefits both employees and the companies they work for. Whether you have your team attend an important conference in your industry or set individual budgets for team members to choose opportunities for development and skill building themselves, this is a substantial benefit. Your team will come back with new skills that help the organization grow, a total win-win.

How Do Perks & Benefits Tie Into Supporting Colorado’s Economy?

In cities like New York and Denver, local restaurants and neighborhood businesses are suffering due to a lack of traffic from deskbound commuters. If more people are working from home, less people need to pick up a quick lunch or coffee or host a meeting at a restaurant, and this has an adverse impact on smaller businesses. In short, our economies are interconnected and less travel to and from the office means getting more creative about supporting local businesses and building in non-office perks for your people.

Whether it’s being a patron of a local shop for a day, or hosting company-wide lunch hours with guest speakers where you can join in virtually no matter where you are, companies are leaning on new ideas for perks and benefits in 2024. Extending from fitness and wellness programs to fringe benefits like ski passes and paid-for childcare at the office, we see this moment as a greenfield opportunity to reimagine what makes work rewardable and valuable when it comes to work perks.

We encourage leaders to look locally to incorporate more unique and cultural perks, the possibilities are endless! Read more about supporting local and building a virtuous circle of partnerships in our post on everything local.

The Bottom Line On Reshaping Office Perks & Benefits

It may be more challenging to make sound predictions for 2024, but it also creates a space for growth. There is an energy behind this change, regardless of the catalyst that brought us to this moment, we are building visions and ideas for tomorrow. Here at BWB, we will be right along side our clients in rethinking how we organize, what we value, and how to find common ground to rebuild.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!