Health insurance is a must-have and a retirement plan is essential, but those basic benefits aren’t the only ones employees want from their employers. Today’s workers are looking for jobs offering a little something extra, whether it’s free lunches, on-site gyms, or a casual dress code, according to the results of a new survey conducted by CareerBuilder.
The company asked 3,252 people what extra perks would make life at the office more satisfying. Many people were interested in benefits to help them stay healthy at the office or encourage a work-life balance. However, when we compared the results of the CareerBuilder survey with data from the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2015 survey of employee benefits, we found relatively few businesses offer the perks people say they want from their employer.
Companies have a lot of reasons for not rolling out some of the most-desired employee benefits. Some are expensive to implement, while others just seem frivolous at first glance. Yet the perks workers want most also have the potential to boost both morale and productivity. Taking a chance on these benefits could pay off for companies in the form of happier employees who do better work – for less money. Eighty percent of people surveyed by Glassdoor said they’d trade a bump in salary for better benefits.
Here are the five benefits people said would make them happier at work, along with the percentage of companies currently offering the perk.
1. Being able to wear jeans
Sixteen percent of people surveyed by CareerBuilder just want the freedom to wear jeans at the office. Only 36% of companies let their employees dress casually every day, SHRM found, while 62% let people dress down one day per week.
Getting to wear jeans in the office can mean a more relaxed work environment and also save employees money, since there’s no need to invest in a separate work wardrobe. Another benefit of an informal dress code? People walk more when they wear jeans to work, a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, found. Employees who aren’t required to wear more formal business attire could burn an extra 6,250 calories per year, according to the study. It might not sound like much, but it could help offset the average annual weight gain adults experience.
Eighteen percent of workers surveyed said they’d like to receive a relaxing massage at work. About 11% of companies offered this benefit in 2015, SHRM found, and 3% said they planned to add it in the next 12 months.
On-site massage services might sound like a luxurious perk, but the benefits go beyond mere pampering. Studies have shown than massage can help reduce work stress, lower blood pressure, and may even help improve your body’s ability to fight off the cold and flu.
3. Daily catered lunches
Twenty-two percent of people surveyed wished their company provided catered lunches every day. Few businesses feed their employees on a daily basis, though. Just 12% have a subsidized or partially subsidized cafeteria on site (down from 19% in 2011). Free snacks are more common, with 22% of companies offering this benefit.
While catered lunches might be the norm at a handful of startups, most people are going to have to settle for the occasional slice of pizza. Still, there’s evidence companies benefit from feeding their workers. A Cornell University study found eating lunch with your coworkers can make you more productive, while a survey by meal delivery service EAT Club found employees would be less likely to look for another job if they got free meals at the office.
4. On-site fitness center
Employees want to work out at work, with 23% saying an on-site fitness center would be a welcome job perk. About 21% of companies currently offer this benefit, according to SHRM (17% offer on-site fitness classes), down from 24% in 2011.
Not only do employees like the idea of having a gym at the office, but companies may benefit as well. Healthier employees can mean lower insurance costs and reduced absenteeism. Businesses saw a 25% drop in use of sick leave and insurance costs after deciding to promote healthy activities, a 2012 review of 62 studies of corporate wellness programs of all types (including those related to fitness) found.
5. Half-day Fridays
Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said they’d love to only have to put in a half day on Fridays. This benefit isn’t unheard of, especially during the summer months, but it’s relatively rare. Only 14% of companies offer seasonal scheduling, like summer Fridays, according to the SHRM, while 31% offer compressed workweeks (say, working 10-hour days, four days a week).
Friday is already one of the least productive days of the week, a survey by Accountemps found, so letting people go a few hours early might not make much difference in the amount of work that gets done at many companies. Yet not everyone is on board with the idea of slashing hours from the work week.
“Forget half-day Fridays and give an extra week of paid vacation. People can use it to actually get away,” an anonymous manager told The Grindstone, who doesn’t like the policy because it leads to distracted employees who don’t get much done for the few hours they are in the office.