More than Money: Simple Perks Can Point to Great Employers
Posted by Kim Peters
on December 16 2014
It can be tempting to dismiss the glowing praise of those who work at great employers in technology and other fields flush with cash. After all, what’s not to like about free smoothie stations, unlimited time off, Cadillac health plans and the other accoutrements of organizations that seem to spare no expense in attracting talent? But dig deeper, and you’ll find that some of the most valued policies at companies with happy employees aren’t necessarily about money. Here are a few worthwhile perks for job seekers to consider, regardless of their industry.
At insurer and financial services provider USAA, about a quarter of the workforce telecommutes or takes advantage of a flexible schedule. That could mean cutting back to part time to care for young children, starting work early to beat traffic, or working a compressed schedule for regular long weekends. There’s a lot that employees love about this organization that's counted itself among the 100 Best Companies to Work For five years in a row, as ranked by Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine. But the fact that the company gives people options to better match up the demands of work and home ranks high on the list.
“I tend to be a workaholic,” one employee says. “This is the only company I have ever worked for that has told me to go home, it is family time and work will be here tomorrow. The company truly cares about their employees.”
Whether business is good or bad, people feel more trusted and less anxious about their jobs if they know what’s happening within their organization. At user experience consulting business AnswerLab, the fact that 98 percent of employees say managers are approachable and easy to talk with helps contribute to a culture of trust and buy-in among team members. The CEO of this company – ranked by GPTW as among the 25 Best Small Workplaces in 2014 – makes time for quarterly “walk-and-talk” sessions with each employee. Leaders also openly discuss sensitive information on the status of the business.
“Management is extremely transparent with how the company is doing, shares financials, and sets a clear path for what we need to achieve each quarter,” one team member says.
Tuition reimbursement, professional conferences and on-site seminars are swell. But sometimes the most enlightening information can come from the person the next desk over. Online events platform Eventbrite joins many companies that host informal lunchtime learning sessions. Employees give talks on topics as diverse as coding and photography. These help teams bond over shared interests and also expose people to new sides of the business. Much like mentoring programs, this kind of employee-led career development demonstrates that a company cares about its team members’ potential beyond their current roles.
Says one: “I can honestly say that this team, this family, has afforded me many opportunities to be challenged, exercise my skill set, mentor and develop other team members and contribute in ways that I never thought I would be capable of prior.”
The health professionals at Houston Methodist care deeply about their patients. At the same time, 92 percent of employees also say they feel good about the ways they serve the greater community as part of this organization that consistently makes Fortune's list of the best workplaces in the country. Examples include donation drives for hygiene products and a series of staff-led educational seminars that have reached more than 1,000 people.
“Houston Methodist partners with many community organizations, activities and businesses,” an employee says. “We often celebrate these partnerships and host events. I love telling people I encounter in the community that I work for Methodist. I continually hear, ‘Oh, what a great place!’”
Whether it’s through an opportunity to give back or simple policies that just make the workday more pleasant, relatively inexpensive perks can prove that an employer cares about its people, both as professionals and as individuals seeking a sense of satisfaction from their jobs.