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When Creative Job Perks Miss the Point

Four people play ping-pong

Beer pong, catered meals, yoga-pant Fridays…you’ve seen the benefits that the “coolest” companies offer these days. But do these creative, unconventional benefits actually work to attract and retain talent?

Yes and no.

If you’re not providing traditional work benefits like health insurance, 401(k), and a generous flex and/or PTO policy, relying on creative perks is pointless. Most employees see right through it, as studies like this one from Fractl support. Our own informal research confirms the importance of these traditional benefits, too. We asked employees in our network the top job perks that put the biggest smile on their faces. More than 50 responded with health benefits, flex time or unlimited PTO, and 401(k)s as their top picks. See for yourself:

These traditional benefits are critical for both attracting and retaining talent. Nearly 50% of our respondents told us that they were drawn to a job because of the perks listed above. Even more impressive is the retention power they have. Nearly 60% of our respondents admitted to staying at a job longer than they may have otherwise because of one or more of these perks.

Once you have these areas covered, you can get more creative with your offerings to get noticed and increase employee satisfaction. For inspiration on above-and-beyond benefits offered by local Austin companies, take a look at what Opcity, LegalZoom, Square Root, eRelevance Corporation, and Mood Media provide in this feature by Build In Austin.

U.S. News & World Report’s Susan Taylor Johnston predicts health reimbursements, digital health offerings, and wellness incentives are the next big things. Employment Benefit News suggests that Gen Z (the newest generation in the workplace) is driving interest in perks like ID theft insurance and student loan repayment programs. Our respondents admit that free or easy parking, casual dress codes, tuition reimbursement, pet-friendly workplace policies, and onsite gym or fitness options get them excited.

What doesn’t make a difference to them? Surprisingly, it’s many of the perks that so many up-and-coming businesses tout. Take a look at our findings. These are the lowest ranked perks in our survey with less than 4% of respondents taking notice:

  • Beer on Tap
  • Company Outings
  • Happy Hours
  • Sabbatical Leave
  • Breakfast Provided
  • Lunch Provided
  • Volunteering Opportunities

While free meals and drinks seem like a perk that just can’t be passed up, studies prove they’re just not enough. Remember that true benefits should benefit employees more than the employer. When meals are provided, but health insurance is not, savvy candidates may deduce that those meals are just a ploy to keep employees on campus and working their hearts out. Provide any of these perks over traditional benefits, and you could be missing the point when it comes to competing for top talent.

“Creative perks are fun, but they can only go so far if you’re not treating your employees right,” says The HT Group Professional Division’s Managing Director Craig Patterson. “In fact, you don’t need gimmicks if your company culture is strong and you’re offering the basic financial and work/life balance benefits that employees truly want.”


Need to Find Qualified Employees?

If your company is in search of skilled employees, contact The HT Group here:


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