To Improve Recruiting, Offer Real Employee Perks, Not Gimmicks

Employee perks are rapidly replacing salary as the primary motivator for job selection. Many employers’ response to this has been to offer what we can only call gimmicks: a fridge stocked with food, wine, and beer, dusty ping pong tables that wind up serving as overflow desk space, a Nintendo Wii with a broken controller and a game selection that only includes a scratched copy of Wii Sports.

To land the best prospects, you need to offer real benefits that employees want. Everything else is just window dressing. Read on to discover the top employee perks that will truly accelerate your recruiting.

It hurts when I do this

Late night sweats over health insurance are probably driving the increase in importance of employee perks. It’s no secret the current U.S. healthcare market is a mess. As a result, many employees value the security of knowing a critical illness won’t bankrupt them over a larger salary.

Hopefully, you’re already providing your employees with a quality healthcare plan. If not, hop to it. You’re letting top recruits slip from your fingers faster than a freshly caught largemouth bass covered in motor oil. (We’re not sure how Billy got covered in motor oil, but we suspect the work of industrialized mermaids.)

Our hours may not be their hours

Today’s workers are fed up with the M-F, 9-5 workday. And can you blame them? With modern technology, work can happen anywhere, anytime. So what’s the point in chaining accountants to a desk eight to ten hours a day?

And it’s not that recruits are lazy. They’re willing to put in the extra work when required. They just want to do it on their terms.

“I expect to work more than just 40 hours a week and to have flexibility in when those hours occur,” says Garrett Wagner, blogger, CPA, and Business Therapist at Thaney & Associates. “Sometimes that means working early, others late, sometimes on the weekends. But I want that integration where even at my daughter’s soccer game I can get five minutes of work done if needed.”

Embrace remote work

A related point, but one that should stand on its own: Technological advancements have led not only to a shift in hours culture, but also a shift in work locations. You simply will not be able to convince the top accounting recruits they need to come to the office every day when they can perform their work at home, at a coffee shop, or 30,000 miles in the air on their way to Peru.

Embracing remote work isn’t a good idea–it’s an imperative. And the more you do it, the better talent you’ll attract and retain.

“If an employer takes a traditional viewpoint of thinking people cannot work successfully remotely, they will have a hard time keeping talent,” says Wagner. “Remote flexibility allows me to work more but still enjoy my life and spend time with my family.”

And there are tangible business benefits to embracing remote work as well. Allowing employees to work remotely reduces overhead costs, improves overall business strategy (focus shifts to the work itself rather than to managing hours), and employees actually become more engaged than if they were forced to work in the office.

Be flexible

Every employee is different, and each will have his or her own unique needs. Don’t fight this–build it into your benefit policy. Offer flexible employee perks that can work with a variety of lifestyles.

Maybe it makes sense to offer long paid vacations during downtime to some employees, but more traditional “take them when you need them” vacation days for others. Some workers may need every other Friday off but are willing to work a Saturday to make up for it. Let them.

“The core of what we are called to do as leaders is to care about the whole person, not just the person working with/for us,” says Sandra Wiley, President at Boomer Consulting.

The employee perks you offer need to be flexible and curtailed to the individual. You obviously can’t just let employees do whatever they want. But be willing to shift things around and bend the rules if that’s what it takes to land a top recruit.

“What works for one person may not work for someone else,” says Wiley. “It is important to recognize that flexibility is the cornerstone to all things in the firm. Think about compensation, benefits, work compression, work from home policies, and new career paths.”

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