From Leader to Leader: ERC President Kelly Keefe Talks Employee Lifestyle Benefits to Offer in 2024

From Leader to Leader: ERC President Kelly Keefe Talks Employee Lifestyle Benefits to Offer in 2024

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, award-winning organizations have focused increasingly on offering innovative employee lifestyle benefits (also known as employee lifestyle perks) to improve the overall quality of employees’ lives.

Lifestyle benefits are non-salary perks that enhance your employee value proposition – the unique value your employees can expect and gain while employed with your organization.

Whether it’s offering a technology reimbursement, a wellness program, or a four-day workweek, employee lifestyle perks provide companies with a competitive advantage.

Employee lifestyle benefits and perks will continue to become critical tools for talent attraction, engagement, and retention in 2024 as health care costs are projected to reach a new high, budgets tighten, and economic uncertainty persists.

Based on ERC’s data, here are 4 creative lifestyle benefits that will improve employee well-being and advance your company culture in 2024 and beyond.

4 Creative Employee Lifestyle Benefits

1. Build on Wellness Perks That Work

From fitness membership discounts to paid counseling sessions, wellness perks can take many shapes and forms. HR and business leaders should consider tailoring wellness services to the needs and preferences of individuals as well as their organizations.   

From a laundry list of 30+ options, the 2023 NorthCoast 99 award-winning organizations indicate they offer an average of 16 wellness-related perks. One of the most common and universally applicable of those offerings is providing ergonomic workspace equipment (85%) – a simple perk that can be useful regardless of the workplace environment.

PRO NOTE: Some of these organizations have taken this a step further by customizing the equipment to the needs of their individual employees. Specifically, the number of NorthCoast 99 winners that provided workstation ergonomic assessments increased by nearly 10% from 2022 to 2023.

2. Include Perks for Pets & the Whole Family

With over 66% of Americans owning at least one pet and 97% of them considering pets as part of their families, it’s becoming increasingly popular for organizations to offer some sort of pet-related perk.

ERC’s NorthCoast 99 data shows that the practice of offering pet insurance and pet service discounts increased by 15% over the last year.

In addition to pet perks, organizations are extending perks to the whole family, giving employees and their loved ones the option to choose from a variety of annual memberships to local attractions or tickets to sporting events.

“We offer all associates a summer event membership or experience as a token of appreciation for their efforts. Associates can choose from annual memberships to local attractions or tickets to area sporting events based on what works best for them.”

– 2023 NorthCoast 99 Winner

3. Fund Training & Education

Almost all award-winning employers (99%) deliver, pay for, or reimburse employees who participate in training. Taking it a step further, 73% of these top workplaces will reimburse employees for their college tuition and 29% will pay for tuition upfront.

Training and professional development not only opens new career possibilities for your workforce but also increases their earning potential. Both factors contribute to job satisfaction and improve employee mental, financial, and psychological well-being.

In addition, when training opportunities are brought on-site and administered at the organization-wide level, the shared experience of training as a group can also serve as a meaningful employee engagement tool.

PRO TIP: If higher education stipends don’t appeal to your workforce, upfront payments for conferences and workshops or other professional certifications can make your employees feel supported and enhance their learning and development.

4. Consider Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are another valuable employee lifestyle benefit. They enable employees to better balance their work responsibilities with personal and family life, which can reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

Flexible work plans can take several forms, such as remote work, compressed workweeks, part-time schedules, and flexible hours.

While not all employers can offer remote or hybrid work options, you can offer creative alternatives to the standard 40-hour workweek.

For example, 44% of NorthCoast 99 winners offer one or more fully paid, compressed workweek options on a permanent basis.

PRO TIP: For employers with both remote/hybrid and on-site workers, consider offering the on-site employees additional flexible options such as compressed work weeks, part-time work, job sharing, shift-swapping, additional PTO, or extra flex-time hours to bolster equitable flexibility between the two employee groups.

Make Informed Decisions

While the lifestyle benefits outlined above help attract, engage, and retain top talent at award-winning companies, they might not be applicable or appeal to every workforce population.

We recommend using employee engagement surveys and employee focus groups to learn more about the types of perks they value most. This way, you can choose the most impactful, cost-effective options – a win-win for your employees and organization.

Kelly Keefe

Kelly Keefe, SHRM-SCP
President, ERC