In the competitive landscape of talent acquisition and retention, organizations are getting creative with non-traditional perks. We’ve gathered insights from CEOs, founders, and other top executives to explore fifteen unique benefits they’ve implemented. From fostering authenticity for disabled employees to supporting extended parental leave, discover the impactful perks that are making a difference in today’s workforce.
- Authenticity for Disabled Employees
- Lifestyle “Treat Yourself” Stipend
- Meal Plan Subscriptions
- Unlimited PTO Policy
- End-of-Year Profit Sharing
- Learning Leave Credits
- Four-Day Work Week
- Year-End Shutdown
- Fully Remote Work
- Operation Mental Health
- Education Support
- Year-Round Early Fridays
- Supporting Personal Projects
- Creating a Work “Family” Environment
- Extended Parental Leave
Authenticity for Disabled Employees
The ability for disabled employees to be authentic and open about their disability is a huge boon to companies. Individuals with disabilities want to bring their full selves to work. They can’t do that if their manager, peers, or organization impedes them from being forthcoming about who they are.
For example, an autistic employee will be able to excel in their work if their boss is aware of their neurodiversity, can advocate for them to get the accommodations they need, and provide meaningful support within their relationship. When disabled people are being heard and understood, they are far more likely to stay with their employer.
Removing barriers and roadblocks to accessibility in the workplace, and educating management on how to go to bat for their direct reports, can be the difference between an employee choosing to stay or leave their place of work.
Lifestyle “Treat Yourself” Stipend
One innovative, non-traditional perk we’ve introduced at Compt is our lifestyle spending account, specifically featuring a Treat Yourself category. This unique offering allows employees to allocate funds towards activities or items that bring them joy and relaxation, separate from their usual necessities or professional development needs. Whether it’s a spa day, a gourmet dining experience, or a new hobby kit, this category is dedicated to promoting self-care and personal happiness.
Introducing the Treat Yourself category has been a game-changer in terms of employee satisfaction and retention. We’ve seen it for our own team and for our customers who use our software at Compt and have this stipend category activated.
It acknowledges the human aspect of work—that beyond being professionals, our team members have personal lives and unique ways of unwinding and finding joy. The positive impact on team morale and mental well-being has been significant, with employees expressing appreciation to recognize their individuality and the need for balance between work and personal life.
This perk has not only helped in retaining our top talent but has also attracted prospective employees looking for a workplace that genuinely cares for their well-being. It’s a testament to our commitment to creating a supportive and nurturing work environment, and we believe it’s a practice that other organizations should consider. Not only does it help in standing out in the competitive talent market, but it also fosters a culture where employees feel valued, understood, and supported in every aspect of their lives.
Meal Plan Subscriptions
As a recruiter, I know a thing or two about attracting top talent. So when I started my own agency, I wanted to create the kind of benefits and perks that would draw in workers of a certain caliber.
One unique perk I’ve found very effective is subscription meal plans.
Services like HelloFresh are invaluable to modern workers on the go. Instead of agonizing about what the family will eat after a long day at the office, they’re able to consult the day’s meal plan, complete with all the ingredients required. And on days that they’re not able to make it home in time, subscription services often offer simplified versions that children can handle, ensuring they eat well even when home alone.
Unlimited PTO Policy Success
I would put an unlimited PTO policy among the top perks to attract and retain top-tier professionals in any organization. Flexibility and work-life balance are among the top concerns for job seekers today, and having this kind of PTO policy helps to meet both of those demands.
I’ve heard concerns from other business owners that they’ll lose too much work time by offering unlimited PTO, but it’s been my experience that employees with this option don’t abuse it or take markedly more paid days off than those with limited PTO available. The biggest difference from an employee standpoint is that they don’t need to stress about using their paid time.
In past roles, I’ve seen coworkers and reports work themselves to the point of burnout with PTO sitting unused because they viewed paid time with a scarcity mindset—they didn’t want to use those days now in case they needed them in the future. An unlimited PTO policy removes this concern, making employees more likely to take breaks when they need them. This helps them better maintain their mental health and prevents burnout and other issues that can drive someone away from your organization.
Our company has enjoyed a very low turnover rate for several years running. While it’s impossible to attribute that to any one perk or workplace feature, I do believe that a generous PTO policy is a big part of that success.
End-of-Year Profit Sharing Boosts Teamwork
End-of-year profit sharing across all team members is not common but is greatly appreciated by everyone. The result of EOY profit sharing is improved teamwork as you pull together towards a goal, increased revenues for the company, and improved employee satisfaction. Even if it is a small amount, do what you can to thank those who work hard for you all year.
Learning Leave Credits
We’ve found that offering Learning Leave Credits for Skill Exploration is a truly unique perk that resonates with our team. It’s a program where employees can take paid time off specifically to explore new skills, unrelated to their current job role.
For instance, one of our team members, an enthusiastic instructor, used these credits to dive into pottery. This break not only recharged her creativity but also brought fresh perspectives to her teaching methods. Her newfound passion even inspired a workshop on stress relief through creative outlets for our staff.
This approach has significantly improved job satisfaction and retention. Encouraging personal growth, in ways not directly tied to their job, fosters a more engaged, innovative, and loyal workforce. It’s something every organization should consider.
Four-Day Work Week
One standout non-traditional perk that has proven effective in attracting and retaining talent is the “Four-Day Work Week” (4DWW) initiative. This innovative approach empowers employees to optimize their work schedules, focusing on four ten-hour workdays instead of the conventional five eight-hour days.
The results have been remarkable. Not only did the 4DWW initiative enhance employee satisfaction, but it also significantly boosted productivity levels. The extra day off provides our team with a chance to recharge, promoting a healthier work-life balance. This unconventional perk has resonated positively with employees and clients alike, showcasing our commitment to their well-being.
The feedback we received highlighted a notable increase in job satisfaction and a decline in burnout. Our team members appreciate the autonomy to structure their workweeks in a way that suits their individual needs. The improved work-life harmony translates directly into increased engagement and loyalty, ultimately contributing to increased retention rates for top-tier talent.
Besides federal holidays and the standard 25-day PTO to be taken by employees when they choose, we have a company-wide shutdown from Christmas to New Year’s. While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s worth noting that most professionals end up using half their vacation days during the holidays, and the stress of missing out on important work can dim their ‘holiday cheer’ too.
My team has been especially appreciative of this perk since they don’t have to worry about work piling up because everyone is off at the same time. I think it’s a good way of promoting mental well-being by giving employees a “real” break and encouraging them to enjoy their personal lives. For those celebrating the holidays alone, we offer subscriptions to Netflix and Prime to make their PTO enjoyable.
With the increasing demand for work-life balance, this has been an effective step toward attracting and retaining employees who look forward to celebrating the holidays worry-free at the end of the year. I also know of some candidates who showed a direct interest in this particular perk and asked for more details about how it works during their interview, so I believe it’s been successful.
Fully Remote Work Improves Retention
It’s becoming more traditional by the minute, but fully remote work is still not the norm in the US economy. Our company is truly, fully remote. That is, we don’t care where you are working from, as long as you are in a reasonable time zone for our customers.
This has changed our culture so much. People schedule vacations or family visits differently. They visit old friends more often. They take aspirational trips. Some people even live in multiple places year-round. Whatever the case, we have heard and believe it’s a big component of our retention.
Operation Mental Health
I introduced a policy into my company called Operation Mental Health, and it essentially aims to give all employees access to everything they need to keep their mental health in tip-top condition. This includes four therapy sessions per month with our therapist, a free gym membership, mandatory PTO, and employee assistance programs like earned wage access
It also includes more traditional benefits, such as flexible working options and health insurance.
Due to this policy, employee retention rates have increased by 50% over the last two years.
I believe the reason this employee perk works so well is because therapy is so expensive in the US. If employees leave, they’ll have to dish out thousands of dollars per month if they want access to the same therapy.
One non-traditional perk that we’ve had success with, and that I’d recommend other employers to experiment with, is offering benefits to support employees’ education and ongoing development.
There are a few different forms that this can take. One option is to offer tuition repayment assistance for recent graduates, or those who want to return to school for an advanced degree. In our industry, though, I find it’s more common for employees to seek ongoing education through non-university sources, such as attending workshops or seminars held by professional organizations, or pursuing professional certification and upskilling programs.
We take a two-pronged approach to support this kind of learning for employees. Along with reimbursement for a portion of the cost of these programs, we also allow attendance in an ongoing education program to count toward the employee’s paid work hours, so that they don’t have to sacrifice their free time to add to their skill sets.
The reason I find this to be a very valuable perk to offer is that it doesn’t just help you to attract and retain talent, but also helps to encourage your team to continuously learn new skills and become even better, more valuable employees over time. You’ll also be more likely to attract the right kind of talent to your organization with this kind of perk. The people who are going to be enticed by this benefit are professionals who want to be continuously learning and are invested in their industry and career advancement. It’s a way to add value for highly motivated, growth-minded individuals looking for an opportunity, and those are exactly the kind of people we want on our team.
Year-Round Early Fridays
We have year-round leave-early-on-Fridays. It started as a summer thing, and we just made it annual. This way, the team has the ability to start their weekend early if they can.
Supporting Personal Projects Retains Talent
Help people with their personal projects. We all have passions and hobbies, and often, people spend a lot of time for free doing what their heart desires. Contrary to what others might think, enabling personal projects and passions will make your talent more excited to work for you and stay longer.
Creating a Work “Family” Environment
One of my goals with my renovation company was to create a feeling of family. I know it’s a cliché, but when you rely so much on teamwork on the job, you can’t just stay distant co-workers; you have to cement that relationship. And you know what? A lot of people look for that kinship and that sense of belonging; people want a community.
So, that’s what I give them. We organize “family” meals and get-togethers, and that’s part of the perks. We don’t just give you a job; we create a network of friends and family you will have forever. We’ll be there for you when you get married, when you have a baby, and when your parents pass away. Family is for life.
Extended Parental Leave
Creating a work environment that supports family life is very important at our law firm. One non-traditional perk we offer is extended parental leave for all parents, so employees can embrace their roles as parents without compromising their professional growth. Flexible work hours also tie in here, since they enable parents to be present for commitments like school drop-offs and parent-teacher meetings.
The results have been incredibly positive, with our employees extending their thanks and sharing their experiences with us. We’ve seen firsthand how, when employees feel supported in their roles as parents, they bring their best selves to the workplace.