Benefits & Comp 8 min

25 Creative Benefit Ideas for Happy, Productive Employees

April 15, 2015
Updated February 4, 2020

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 appreciate their employees enjoy better financial results and have higher retention rates.

Think your employees need a little more appreciation via benefits? Here are 25 creative benefit ideas to inspire you and keep your people happy and productive.

Workplace Improvements

When employees spend more than a third of their life at their workplaces, it’s important to shake things up every once in a while. These on-site employee benefit recommendations can help freshen up the daily grind.

1. 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 week or month might.

2. 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 them de-stress.

3. Company Off-Sites

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. Development Fund

Employees appreciate it when you invest in their development, and companies benefit from increasing their workforce’s 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.

Free ebook: Developing Benefits to Help Employees Stay

5. Workplace Library

Do your employees appreciate a good read? Bring in a bookshelf and encourage employees to stock it with great books. Whether employees sharpen their business skills during their focus hour or escape to a fantasy world over lunch, having these options on hand helps expand employees’ learning opportunities without requiring them to spend a fortune on books.

6. Reduced 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 a while can help lift employees’ spirits.

7. Work from Anywhere

Employees appreciate the flexibility to work from wherever. Some companies allow employees to 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.

8. Midday Break

Some companies encourage a midday break to do yoga, and 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 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 encourage team building (think: team spin class instead of daily stand-up meetings).

9. Scheduled Socialization

Spending time together doesn’t have to supersede the lunch hour. Teams can block out a half-hour twice a week as a recurring appointment for socializing with teammates. Research has shown that it’s important to have friends at work, after all.

After-Hours Experiences

Employee appreciation doesn’t need to stop when everyone leaves for the day. These creative employee benefits improve life outside the office.

10. Vacation Bonuses

Consider giving your employees a vacation bonus to spend on a trip of their choosing throughout the year. You can offer any amount, and employees get to take whomever they want wherever they desire. This is one of our favorite benefits here at BambooHR!

11. 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, hold a drawing and a few lucky employees get to leave on an all-expenses-paid trip.

12. Sabbatical

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

13. Chore Help

At the end of a long day or week, chores are the last thing employees want to do. 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.

14. 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.

BambooHR helps you manage PTO and so much more.

15. 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. It may even be more effective at getting employees to relax during their time off if there’s not peer pressure to come to the office. Not many creative benefits top extra vacation time!

16. 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.

17. Literary Commute

Do you have employees who spend hours in the car? Give them an Audible subscription to make the journey more interesting. You could also start a monthly Transit Book Club to discuss the latest read.

18. Bike Share

Start a bike share program to help your employees stretch their restaurant radius without worrying about parking or traffic. The health aspect is an added bonus.

Traditional Benefit Enhancements

Traditional benefits can be hard for employees to get excited about. It’s not like they’re going to cheer, “Yay! My health insurance increase could have been worse!” But there are creative ways to enhance your traditional benefits in a way that’s meaningful to employees.

19. Wellness Contests

Incentivizing wellness can give employees additional motivation and accountability for making positive changes in their lives. An effective rewards system will provide a mix of incentives, with both go-at-your-own-pace individual challenges and group competitions. Mixing up the incentives helps employees of every personality type find a wellness goal that’s their speed.

20. Intramural Lunches

A couple of years ago, BambooHR issued a challenge for our employees to get more physically active. In response, a lunchtime volleyball league started up in the field across the parking lot, complete with hammocks and a boom box. Combining social hour and physical activity is a wellness win-win.

21. Walking Meetings

Wellness doesn’t have to wait for break time. Taking brainstorm meetings outside (or just down the block and back) can help people reach their wellness goals. As an added bonus, it’s much easier to stay awake and alert when everyone is moving.

22. Mental Health Days

Everybody has a few days a year where they just can’t come into work—anxiety, grief, depression, and other mental illnesses can have debilitating effects. Instead of accepting that employees will use a sick day, give a few mental health days. You can set some 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.

23. On-Site Dental Clinics

Is there anything worse than using time off to go to the dentist? What if your employees could get their dental work done at the workplace and get back to business? Check to see if your dental provider supports onsite dental programs. This could be the key to help employees start using their dental benefits.

See how BambooHR lets employees answer their own benefits questions.

24. Finance Classes

When it comes to wellness efforts, it’s difficult to separate physical wellness from financial wellness. Helping employees learn good financial principles can help relieve the stress that poor financial management can bring, which in turn improves physical and mental health. At BambooHR, we reimburse employees for taking an after-work financial knowledge class—and then reward them with $100 for completing the course.

25. Benefits Q&A Sessions

Do you know how your 401k works? What about your HSA? If you work in HR, the answer is probably yes. But for everyone else in your organization, it can be hard to remember every detail of every benefit. Some employees may have questions, especially if they’re experiencing a life change that might affect their benefits. Understanding a benefit is the first step to using a benefit, so it’s important for your organization to educate employees. Work with your retirement and health benefit providers to schedule quarterly Q&A sessions and invite any interested employee to attend.

Make Employee Benefits a Beneficial Cycle

While it’s important to provide basic coverage, expanding what you offer with creative employee benefits ideas can make all the difference in earning employee appreciation. 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!

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson is a copywriter with BambooHR, a full-service, cloud-based HR management software. His work explores employee engagement, total rewards, recruitment strategies, and how core HRIS software connects with every aspect of HR.