Benefits & Comp 4 min

15 Creative Benefit Ideas for Happy, Productive Employees

April 15, 2015

You’ve probably heard about some companies that offer their people pretty great benefits.

From free food to multiple months of paid time off for new parents, companies are pulling out all the stops—and with good reason. Companies that effectively appreciate the value of employees enjoy a return on equity and assets more than three times higher than those who don’t.

Think your employees need a little more appreciation via benefits? Here are 15 ideas of creative benefits that might inspire you and keep them happy and productive:

1. Vacation bonuses. 

Consider giving your employees a vacation bonus to spend on a trip of their choosing throughout the year. You can do this with any amount, and employees get to take whomever they want wherever they desire. And I don’t have to tell you what a vacation does for employee productivity.

2. Surprise trips.

Freeborn hosts a luggage party every year where everyone who wants to participate packs a bag and brings it into the office. At the end of the day, they draw out a few employees who get to leave on an all-expenses paid trip.

3. Company trips.

Whether it’s just an off-site close to the office for a day or taking the whole company somewhere exotic for a week, taking employees to a new location can be relaxing and help employees connect with each other.

4. Dog days.

Some companies boast dog-friendly offices all week long. Even if every day won’t work, letting employees bring in their best friend once a weekly or month might.

5. Massages.

Some companies bring in masseuses or provide a bonus for employees to pamper themselves. Either way, spoiling employees a little bit can really help employees de-stress.

6. Development fund.

Employees appreciate it when you invest in their development and companies benefit from increasing their knowledge base. Whether it’s tuition reimbursement or simply a development fund that employees can use to attend conferences, classes or just buy books, helping employees learn is an awesome benefit.

7. Cut hours.

Some tech start-ups like Treehouse don’t work Fridays ever. Even cutting every other Friday in half or just calling it a day at 4 p.m. every once in awhile may help lift employees’ spirits.

8. Chores.

At the end of a long day or week, the last thing employees want to do are chores. Companies are taking note and offering benefits ranging from laundry services to cleaning crews to hiring an employee whose role is to run errands for people in the office.

9. Work from anywhere.

Employees appreciate the flexibility to work from wherever. Some companies allow employees to keep work at home when needed. Others take it to another level and encourage employees to work from anywhere in the world for one month a year. The ability to work remotely is one employee benefit that’s becoming the norm for some industries.

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10. Sabbatical.

Taking a cue from education, employee sabbaticals are becoming increasingly popular. After a certain amount of time (5 years seems to be common), employees are given an extended amount of time off (5 weeks or so).

11. Date night.

Bring childcare professionals into the office and let employees drop their kids off on a Friday night. Employees can take a friend or significant other out for a fun night on the company’s dime.

12. Spring break.

Remember when you were a kid and your school years revolved around the week-long winter and spring breaks? Bring them back! Give employees an entire week off (separate from their vacation time) twice per year. This will consistently give them something to look forward to and may even be more effective at getting employees to actually relax during their time off since it won’t feel like they’re the only ones not in the office. Not many creative benefits top extra vacation time!

13. Midday break. 

Some companies encourage a midday break to do yoga, others tell employees to go catch a wave. Either way, it’s a cool benefit to keep employees from burning out halfway through the day. You can just look for a gym or studio offering fitness classes close by and offer the services to employees. It could also be a great way to team build (think: team spin class instead of daily stand up meetings).

14. Paid volunteer work.

Want to make a difference in the community? Your employees do! Timberland gives each employee 40 hours of paid volunteer time per year.

15. Mental health days.

Everybody has a few days a year where they just don’t want to come into work. Instead of accepting that employees will just use a sick day, give a few mental health days. Set a few boundaries (such as don’t let deadlines slip or skip presentations), then let your employees use them on days when they wake up and just can’t do it. You’ll save on productivity and happy employees.

Employees can tell when companies try to help them be more productive and successful by offering great benefits. And they’ll reciprocate by being productive, engaged employees!

Companies that effectively appreciate their employees enjoy a ROI more than three times higher. Learn how:

Do you have any other creative benefits for employees that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Kelsie Davis

Kelsie Davis is a copywriter for BambooHR. Her mission is to help HR create more strategic and impactful initiatives by researching, analyzing, and writing about all things HR—particularly topics helping HR professionals engage, attract, and retain employees.