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4 Nontraditional Workplace Benefits That Win

Businesses today aren’t just competing to grab the attention of consumers; they’re also fighting to win the best possible talent. Perks, benefits, and practices like parental leave become weapons in the fight.

With more young workers freelancing or becoming self-employed — and 60 percent of those who seek in-house positions leaving within three years — employers are struggling to retain high-quality workers while avoiding the hefty costs that go with finding replacements. To accomplish this, an increasing number of companies are embracing nontraditional compensation and benefits packages designed to appeal to the new generation.

Take Facebook, for example, which recently extended its paid parental leave plan to all its employees. Companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft were soon to follow suit with similar changes.

woman using laptop while daughter and dog sleepThis mindset has rippled out from the tech industry to infiltrate companies spanning the entire economy. Now, even the most “traditional” organizations are opening their minds to perks like remote work or flexible hours. There is a sense of keeping up with the Joneses: The more benefits high-profile companies bring to the table, the closer we get to a tipping point where any company that doesn’t offer them will be left behind.

As these practices expand, so do the expectations of employees. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle: As more companies offer nontraditional benefits, more workers expect them, and even more companies will need to get on board to attract top-quality talent.

The Future of Employment Perks
Generous compensation packages are no longer enough. Modern workers want perks that will better support work-life balance. But what kind of benefits are we talking about? Different businesses have different answers, but here are four major concepts your company should embrace:

—Flexible hours and remote working. Evolving technology has already changed how we work, making flexible hours and remote work a common practice. Companies like Automattic (the makers of WordPress) and Basecamp (authors of “REMOTE”) have led the charge in promoting completely remote and flexible work environments. The tools to support these environments are now available off-the-shelf to any company.

Flexible hours and remote work allow employees to be more productive. With less time wasted commuting — INRIX reports at least eight U.S. cities where people spent an average of 60 or more hours in traffic in 2015 — employees will have more time for work, life, or both.

—Parental leave. Parental leave is becoming an increasingly hot topic. Adding a paid parental leave policy can help reduce the stress new parents feel and address the gender imbalance at management levels by allowing more women to work flexibly and return to work after having children.

—Employee wellness. At every HR conference I’ve attended this year, one of the biggest emerging conversations has been about integrated employee wellness programs. The benefits of these programs are far-reaching. Not only are they great for the health and well-being of your employees, but they also reduce healthcare costs for the company while boosting productivity and results.

Experiment with a wellness program by offering health devices as a perk, introducing yoga or meditation sessions, or starting friendly competitions of miles walked in a month.

—Unconventional career progression. From sabbaticals to career breaks and higher education, more and more companies will begin encouraging employees to undertake growth opportunities. For example, I started my career at a firm that forced successful analysts “out” after three years so they would complete their MBAs (although I chose a different route). The hope is that many employees return to advance their careers after expanding their horizons.

Proactively encourage employees to pursue these opportunities. As a result, you will increase retention by making it OK to assume they won’t be an employee for life, and you’ll see many employees return to the company with invaluable new experiences or education under their belts.

When it comes to developing benefit packages, think outside the box. Your novel approaches to employee perks will show existing employees you care and translate into a powerful weapon to attract top-tier talent to your business.