Consider the last time you made the tough choice between two job offers, or considered an invitation to join a different company. In addition to the environment, the salary you negotiated for, the title you pursued and the convenience of the headquarters, workplace perks play a factor in your decision-making. Even if you snagged the ideal next step toward your career goals, having the right everything on paper doesn’t always translate into a happy, healthy, and inspiring place to spend those long hours between 9 and 5 (or 6 or 7).
For most employees, the largest contributing factor to their overall sense of contentment at the office is directly tied to small, yet significant values the company offers and upholds. From offering unlimited vacation days to providing incentives to recognize the contributions of co-workers, these are the six top perks that inspire workers to feel happy to come to work every day.
The ability to work from anywhere in the world
As millennials begin to put their stake in the workforce, demanding swift and sometimes dramatic shifts in the outdated attitude toward career growth, the digital nomadic life continues to grow in popularity.
Even if you have been burning the midnight oil in your industry for a decade already, easy access to internet, co-working spaces and high-speed WiFi on nearly every continent makes the temptation to roam (without paying roaming fees) that much more alluring.
Timothy Welch, a chief systems engineer for PowerDMS, is currently traveling the world for a year via Remote Year, an initiative that selects dozens of people from around the world to travel together for 12 months while they maintain virtual ties to their jobs back home. He praised his employer for being willing to accommodate his — and other colleagues’ — requests to telecommute.
“The opportunity to work from home whenever you want, and, like me, work abroad for several months or a year is a valued perk. We usually have up to three people people taking advantage of this opportunity at any given time,” Welch said.
And hey, even if you don’t want to pack up your laptop bag for a multi-month adventure, Welch adds that Power DMS also gives you the chance to extend a one to two week vacation you’re taking by adding on some remote-work options. So you can finish up that trek through Australia and New Zealand with a week-long working session at a beachside Internet cafe in Bali without taking any paid time off.
Similarly, James O’Neill, the content director for LegalNature, is able to work remotely in Barcelona while the rest of his team is stationed in Los Angeles. O’Neill says the fluidity of their home office policy has improved his work ethic, making him more productive and creative from across the ocean. He attributes this improvement to spending more time focused on the task at hand in a quiet space, instead of battling a daily commute.
“I do not suffer the stress and fatigue that comes with the daily grind into the office,” he says.
A focus on wellness
The Googles, Facebooks and trendy start-ups of the world are all hopping on the wellness bandwagon that doesn’t just seek to foster a home for your computer, backpack and coffee mug, but one that capitalizes on the ‘life’ aspect of a work/life balance.
Since so many employees at these organizations are passionate about their work, they may clock more overtime, making time constraints to finish everyday tasks that much more difficult. To combat this fatigue, more employers are seeking ways to bring attention to health to their offices.
Jessica Herbst, the senior content marketing manager at Wpromote, looks forward to her twice-a-week massage breaks that “are amazing after a tough meeting or combatting weird pains from sitting in front of two screens during the day.”
When you’re busy trying to meet deadlines, file reports and build presentations, all on top of making your best friend’s birthday party and attempting to spend quality time with your partner, your exercise routine may fall to the wayside.
That’s why Liz Cherry, the marketing director for Motley Fool enjoys on-site fitness classes that keep her heart racing and her mind sharp. From indoor cycling to yoga and bootcamps, she uses exercise time during her lunch break to work up a sweat and be prepared for the next meeting, pitch or conference call.
Access to a shipping center
Depending on what zip code you scribble on the back of envelopes, and whether or not you live in a home, apartment or condo complex, having packages shipped can be a real nightmare. When you add in certain restrictions around required signatures or don’t have a doorman to take your package in until you get home, the very thought of going to a post office or ordering a must-have online can raise your anxiety levels.
Though a seemingly tiny perk, Cherry says companies that let their employees use their work address as their shipping are a boon — particularly those that offer an in-house station to purchase postage and more.
“Our amazing office services team graciously accepts any package you need to have delivered, and then also allows employees to easily manage our own shipping and returns from the office. We even have our own area set up with packing tape, envelopes, and a box to leave money to cover shipping costs,” she explains. “In the days of Amazon Prime, free shipping and frequent returns, the ability to bypass the post office is just one of the many wonderful reasons I appreciate my employer.”
The opportunity to recognize co-workers
Even if you’re more of a solo worker than a team player, working in nearly any job requires frequent communication and interaction with other employees. As you collaborate and begin to understand and utilize each other’s strengths and intelligences, it’s important to take a moment to recognize your co-workers for all they bring to your daily working routine.
Or ya know, give them a high-five — the nickname for internal highlights at Small Girls PR.
“Each Monday, we read ‘high fives’ calling out specific people’s achievements from the week,” explains associate account executive, Zoe Richards. “They’re anonymously submitted from people’s teammates and it’s an awesome opportunity to support each other and acknowledge everyone’s hard work.”
It’s kind of like a professional ‘Snap Cup’, she explains.
Many companies adopt this dedication toward back-patting, as Motley Fool staffer Amy Dykstra brags about the company’s YouEarnedIt platform. Through this, you can give kudos to fellow employees which collect as points that can be redeemed toward gift cards or prizes.
“Employees benefit from feeling appreciated for their specific work and the company benefits from viewing a newsfeed of pertinent well-wishes every day. I have learned a ton about what my fellow employees are working on — and excelling at! – by reading this feed,”Dykstra says. “When things are busy, seeing recognition come in that someone appreciated my contribution means the world to me and invigorates me to continue working hard.”
Helping fellow employees and others, too
When challenging or upsetting events befall your co-workers, managers or direct-reports, it can be difficult to know the right course of action to take. Even if you’re friendly with those you work with, when there’s a death in their family, you may feel as if you’re skating a fine line between personal and professional. That’s why Melissa Bond, a management consulting analyst for Accenture appreciates a company policy allowing her to donate her unused paid time off to her colleagues.
“if someone has a family emergency and needs to take a lot of time off, but they run out of PTO hours, anyone else in the company can donate their hours to the person in need,” she explains.
Apart from those you share long hours with Monday through Friday, employees also value the chance to give back to charities that pull at their heart — and purse — strings. As Chelsea Long, a customer support specialist for Adobe explains, she values her company incentive to volunteer and give monetarily back to a non-profit at the same time. Long says for every 10 hours you volunteer, you get a $250 grant to donate to the charity of your liking.
“You can volunteer anywhere, for anything, but Adobe also sets up many different volunteer activities, ranging from serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, organizing donations at Materials for The Arts, preparing meals for the homeless at The New York City Rescue Mission, or even participating in specialized pro-bono projects for local charities where you can share some of your professional skills,” Long says. To date, she’s been able to contribute more than $2,000 to various charities.
Unlimited vacation days
While in European countries, employees taking holidays is an expected part of working culture, the United States is arriving late to the flexibility game with more and more start-ups leaning toward unlimited instead of the standard two weeks of paid time off.
Most organizations tread lightly on these policies, hoping employees will honor the system without taking advantage of it, but as studies have shown, the more time you are allowed to take off, the smarter you will be about jet setting away from the office. For Fiona Farley, account supervisor at Evolve MKD, having the endless opportunity to get away helps her remain focused and inspired at work. “Management knows that it’s important to take time off, whether it’s to unwind, travel or just have a staycation. I never feel guilty or nervous about taking time off, which definitely relieves stress,” she adds.