These Unique Employee Benefits Can Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Providing unique employee benefits is a great way to maximize your employee retention and productivity.

Two workers are happy in the office.

As many people are searching for jobs post-pandemic, they are not just looking at salary and basic insurance coverage. Instead, they are trying to find a place that offers additional creative, supportive, and unique employee benefits. Ones that will leave them feeling confident they have chosen the best place to work. When employees find places with unique benefit programs, they stick in those jobs. No longer are people just asking if companies have good health insurance. Rather, they also want to know: 

How we do it

At Papa, our People and Culture team works hard to offer unique benefits that make Papa stand out. Of course, we offer all the standard employee benefits like health insurance and PTO. Also, we provide unique employee benefits like caregiver benefits (yes, our Papa employees have access to Papa!), meals, and even frequent team-building activities. Last month, we shipped Boba Tea kits to the entire team, and on one Friday afternoon, we made Boba Tea together via Zoom!

We’ve learned that there are so many non-salary and non-standard benefit options that, if added to employee packages, can make work culture better. These unique employee benefits can be anything from health and wellness benefits, and education, to caregiver assistance. If you want to get creative with your unique benefit offerings, we have gathered some benefit ideas below to inspire you.

Professional development benefits

Investing in your employees' training and education will give you more capable and skilled staff. Likewise, it shows the employee you care about their success. While the specific kinds of professional development will vary, here is a list of unique training and education offerings. We think these can make your company stand out:

  • Offer your employees–even people that aren’t currently in a leadership position–the chance to take management and leadership training. They can learn topics like conflict resolution and problem-solving, project planning, or time management and delegating. Or they can up their game in running effective meetings, communication skills, and encouraging and coaching staff.
  • Give financial assistance for employees taking professional certifications or even university coursework. 
  • Increase employees' duties and responsibilities and offer them a mentor to expand their skills and career potential.
  • Provide internal continuing education programs- offer outside professional development as a regular part of each employee’s work week. LinkedIn has a whole section of its website devoted to professional development, which is a great place to start.

Professional education benefits

Many employees go into debt to get the skills they need to do their jobs. Tuition assistance shows that you are willing to invest in each employee’s growth. It also helps bring in motivated, high-potential employees who want to learn and expand their knowledge and capabilities. According to a Linkedin Report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.

A recent addition to the CARES ACT states that through 2025 employers can contribute up to $5,250.00 annually per employee to student loan assistance without raising their gross taxable income. Some ideas include:

  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Student loan repayment
  • Professional development stipends
  • Conference stipend
  • Certification stipend

Caregiver support 

Student receiving professional education part-time as one of his unique employee benefits.

Supporting the parental and caregiving roles is vital in the workplace. Nearly 40% of working parents and caregivers had to change jobs during the pandemic because of their caregiving responsibilities, and 15% had to leave their jobs altogether. With more than 73% of our workforce serving as caregivers, promoting a healthy and sustainable work/life balance is more important than ever. If an employee is spending their time at work worrying about what balls are being dropped at home, they are often not able to focus on their job duties. When they feel stressed about their “second shift”, or worry about everything that needs to get done after their 9-5, you guessed it; they will not be as productive at work.

Ideas for caregivers

As stress increases, productivity and quality of work often decrease. By offering unique benefits and perks designed to help caregivers, you help your employees free up brain space for workplace success. We asked some parents, caregivers, and job seekers what kind of things they would hope for when looking for this kind of support. Here are some of the answers we received:  

  • Set up parenting coaching and classes.
  • Offer caregiver support (like Papa!) to help ease some of the caregiving vs. working weight.
  • Provide childcare in-office or childcare payment stipends.
  • Set aside flex days off for  caregiving emergencies.
  • Add healthcare benefits (like!) that include caregiving support.
  • Extend maternal and paternal leave, and consider providing adoption leave as well.
  • Offer bring-the-kids-to-work days. On those days, offer fun, family activities that your employees can do with their kids.
  • Create a “happiness fund” for each employee that they can use to do something fun with their families.
  • Give time off or offer flexible scheduling for parents to attend kids' activities.

Philanthropic benefits

You may not see philanthropy as an employee benefit. But one recent study showed a 13% jump in productivity among workers whose companies included them in their philanthropic initiatives. You can make sure you are fostering a culture of giving back and show that you are aware of our social responsibility in many ways. Here are some examples of how to get started:

  • Give employees a certain number of volunteer days per year.
  • Schedule a paid day where your entire team volunteers together. This could be once a month or once a quarter, but either way, it can be a regular team building occurrence.
  • Gather a list of places that your company invests in and encourage your employees to join the cause
  • Promote company donation drives.
  • Offer donation matching to non-profits, so their donation will double when your employees contribute.
  • Around the holiday season, allow your employees to give back or donate funds.
  • Offer pro-bono work if that applies to your company, and allow your employees to do the same. At Papa, we allow any of our employees to serve as Papa Pals to experience the same work that we are passionate about!
  • Find campaigns that your employees already care about and join in.
  • Have a sale or promotion and give the proceeds to a charitable cause. One company we know gives 25% of Black Friday sales to a charity voted on by employees each year.

Team building as a unique employee benefit

Spending time together as a team outside of the pressures and needs of the work day encourages connection, fun, and laughter. All are proven to help productivity, trust, and creativity in the workplace. It's also refreshing for everyone to be reminded that you're curating a collaborative space when you intentionally bring everyone to a “level playing field''. Great teams are built when everyone from the CEO to the newest employee is engaged in spending some time together.

Fun team-building ideas

There are many ways to add team building into the work day, but here are some fun ideas to get you started:

  • Purchase some puzzles and board games for quick in-office fun.
  • Suggest peer compliments and awards like the Dundie Awards.
  • Put on a show-n-tell. Let people show off their accomplishments and goals. This is a good way to get to know new employees!
  • Organize company contests. Have a dance-off, or lip-sync competition, or maybe see who has the most sales in a day or who can get the first new client.
  • Plan theme days like dress like the boss day, decades day, superhero day, beach day, and favorite team day. There are so many options here. 
  • Have a bring-your-pets-to-work day.
  • Go on some company-wide field trips. Ideas include going to an escape room, a ropes course, a scavenger hunt, or a rage room. (And FYI, this list can be endless. Google “Corporate Field Trip Ideas” and get inspired!)
  • Encourage your team to enjoy some midday recreation. For instance, go for a bike ride, gather a group, play a kickball game, field day like in elementary school, or have a quick pickleball play-off.

Ideas for remote teams

If you're a remote team, you can still get in on the team-building fun. Here are a few cool ideas that we’ve heard:

  • Have weekly virtual happy hours.
  • Plan company-wide projects. (At Papa, we do this at least once a quarter. We’ve done everything from making pottery to our most recent one, making Boba Tea!)

Relaxation benefits

Woman stretching in the office.

These are relatively recent additions to the employee benefits world but benefits designed to reduce stress. The benefits are clear: Research shows that a 15-minute massage can make someone more alert and attentive and increase productivity. Similarly, meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques can be just as helpful. These practices:

  • Aide mental health 
  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Ease physical pain associated with sitting at a desk all day
  • Help with daytime fatigue
  • Promote good overnight sleep
  • Boost immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Clear the mind
  • Allow for more focus and stamina 
  • Feel like “self-care” 

Ideas for relaxation benefits

There are many unique ways that your company can help your employees de-stress. But, whatever you do, relaxation benefits are worth much more than just stress relief.

  • Hire a massage therapist to do chair massages once a month.
  • Offer virtual yoga, pilates, or relaxation classes.
  • Purchase some high-tech massage chairs for employees to use during work breaks.
  • Have daily mediation breaks.
  • Teach mindfulness as part of professional development.

The more creative and unique the employee benefits, the better!

People are looking for work again.... in droves. In a job seeker's market, you have to differentiate your company from others. These unique employee benefits and perks give your company an advantage over competitors. They can also be the difference between your best candidate choosing you over someone else or your best employee deciding to stay instead of leave. Above all, unique employee benefits will allow you to keep key employees, recruit new talent and create a culture where everyone wants to work.