All-you-can eat snacks, game rooms and pet-friendly offices? These days, those are a given.
“Free food is appreciated, but everyone’s doing it,” says Jaime Klein, founder and president of Inspire Human Resources. “You have to do something [for your employees] that’s even more innovative.”
Since we spend more time at work than with family and friends, it’s even more important than ever that companies honor their tenured and high-performing employees with perks, she says.
The best time to negotiate for add-on benefits is when you’re starting a new job at a company, says Jeanne Meister, partner at Future Workplace, an HR advisory and research firm.
“Say, ‘Thank you for your offer. Here’s what I want,’ ” she says. “It should be much more than salary and benefits and stock options,” she says. “Employees need to negotiate more with workplace well-being and perks like a more flexible schedule. Really think of the experience that you want at work. Money is only one of the factors.”
If you’re already in a job, you can negotiate for these perks during your annual review, says Klein. What should you ask for? Here’s what employees really want — and management is ready to give.
1. A better view
Don’t like your dark cube? Ask to move. More than half of 1,614 employees surveyed said natural light and views of the outdoors was their most important office perk, ranking higher than on-site cafeterias, fitness centers, medical care and child care, according to a recent study by Future Workplace and View Dynamic Glass
“While treadmill desks and nap pods get a lot of hype, the study clearly found that essential things such as optimized natural light and views are the most impactful and valued office perks,” says Meister. “Employees say workplaces infused with daylight and views of the outside promote their well-being, engagement and productivity.”
Adults spend an average of four hours each day looking down at their devices, says Meister, and looking out the window can feel like a visual break.
2. More personal days
Ask for a routine one, such as the last Friday of every month, so you can recharge. Meister says the trend is driven by the idea that employees want companies to focus on performance and delivering on your job, not how many hours it takes you to do your work. “It’s not about face time,” she says. “It’s about performance.”
She suggests understanding your company’s current policy and making a case for why you should be given more days. Is it to pursue a personal or professional goal? If so, say so.
3. Flex time
Ask to shift your schedule to accommodate something you love to do off-duty, even if it’s one day a week or a couple of times a month. Maybe you arrive to work earlier than usual so you can leave early to pick up a child from school or take a parent to a doctor’s appointment, or maybe you squeeze in a morning exercise class and come into work a little later than usual.
Globally, more than half of working adults have some sort of flexible schedule, says Meister. “It’s becoming an important criteria to even join a company: What flexibility do I have?” Employees prize flexibility so much that they rank it up there with compensation perks such as a bonus, adds Klein. And companies have a reason to say yes. By cutting back on commuting and working part of the time at home, workers end up being extra-productive and are less likely to switch jobs.
4. Professional development
Among millennials, the No. 1 reason to apply for a job (in addition to compensation) is because a company invests in employee learning and development. “Millennials typically stay as long as they’re developed and challenged,” says Klein.
If there’s a conference, event or specific training you’ve always wanted to sign up for, put it on your ask list. “Companies that make it easy to develop your career and skills and competencies and offer internal mobility across the organization is the hottest new perk,” says Meister. Another education perk that employees love? Financial-literacy training.