More than half of private and public companies have increased their employee benefits for recruiting and retention purposes over the last six months, according to a recent nationwide survey of hiring managers, recruiters, and human resource professionals. But unlike the flashy perks and glitzy giveaways some offered in the frenetic late 1990’s, companies are now increasingly focused on ‘bennies’ that support their employees’ sense of work-life balance.
“In the late 90’s, it was commonplace to hear about companies with recruiting campaigns that included extreme employee perks such as company cars, game rooms with foosball tables, huge sign-on bonuses, and chef-prepared lunches,” says Heather Galler, CEO of JobKite.com. “That ship has sailed.”
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The JobKite survey revealed that 56 percent of the 263 responding companies have made some significant enhancements to the employee benefits they are offering for retention or recruiting purposes, with most geared toward improving the quality of employees’ work and home lives. Most notably, these benefits include telecommuting, increased vacation, and health benefits. The 147 responding companies that actually increased benefits over the past six months reported increased employee compensation in the following categories:
- Medical: 88 percent added health-related benefits, including life, vision, and better or increased health plans.
- Money: 69 percent have increased stock vesting, 401(k) funds, salary relative to market averages, sign-on bonuses, quarterly bonus plans, and/or relocation packages.
- Vacation: 41 percent are increasing the number of paid days off per year.
- Alternative working arrangements. Thirty-six percent are adding or enhancing flextime and/or telecommuting. One Fortune 1000 company says it launched a new telecommuting program on August 16, for example. Another has an informal telecommuting option to be used for unexpected events, and a formal program for modified or reduced work schedules. One-third of the employees using that program are men.
- Other: 8 percent plan to offer other miscellaneous benefits, including massages, monthly cookouts and gym memberships.
“As they shift their benefits to reinforce the work-life balance, companies are really making a smart move,” Galler says. “By focusing on making their employees happier and more balanced, companies only stand to gain through increased loyalty, productivity, and retention.”