In a candidate-driven job market, employers who don’t prioritize retention efforts risk seeing top performers walk out the door. A recent Robert Half survey shows that 50 per cent of workers are confident they could find a new job quickly — a figure that puts pressure on companies to keep them from seeking greener pastures.

One great way to help make your people want to keep working for you is to invest in their overall job satisfaction by providing them with the perks and benefits they want most. A good set of perks and benefits helps workers stay happy, and a happy team tends to be more productive and creative — and less likely to send their resumes to your competition.

What you offer beyond salary can also go a long way in aiding recruitment efforts. The right complement of extras can make the difference between your top candidates joining your ranks or passing on your job offer.

Research for the Robert Half Salary Guide reveals the perks and benefits employees want most and those most frequently offered by employers. Some are tried-and-true, while others have only recently gained mainstream popularity.

If there are any perks and benefits in these lists that you don’t provide, adding them can give your workforce a morale boost — and ease your retention worries.

6 most-desirable benefits for employees

The terms “perks” and “benefits” are sometimes used interchangeably, but for our purposes, benefits for employees are generally a form of non-cash compensation that cover basic needs. If not offered by the employer, employees would likely have to fund them on their own.

Paid time off — Whether it’s for vacation, illness or bereavement, paid time off (PTO) is highly valued by employees and a great way to combat employee burnout. In the survey, almost seven in 10 workers (68 per cent) placed it in their top three desired benefits. Two weeks is standard for new hires, but three or more weeks of PTO can be hard for many candidates to pass up.

Extended Health insurance — After salary, this staple benefit is of the utmost importance to many job candidates and their families. In a Robert Half survey of more than 500 workers in Canada, 66 per cent of respondents ranked health insurance as an essential benefit.

Retirement savings plans — A popular benefit with just over half (52 per cent) of respondents, a retirement savings plan can be an excellent way to attract candidates. Offering to match contributions up to a certain amount is a big plus for workers and can encourage them to stick with your firm.

Dental insurance — What’s most important isn’t always the most exciting, as evidenced by dental insurance being named a key benefit by 43 per cent of those polled.

Disability insurance — Disability insurance is important to employees looking to feel some reassurance about protecting themselves and their families in the case of an unexpected illness or accident.

Vision insurance — Glasses, contacts and eye exams can be a costly expense to those who need them, so it’s no surprise that vision insurance rounds out the six most-wanted benefits in our survey.

6 perks at work employees want most

Perks — as in perquisites or corporate perks — are nice-to-have additions to an employee’s salary and benefits package. We define perks at work as above-and-beyond offerings that may sway an employee to value one employer over another. Think of them as icing on the cake.

Flexible work schedules — Seventy-five per cent of survey respondents value being able to choose their own schedule (within reason). This typically means a compressed workweek (e.g., four 10-hour days) or flextime, where employees can choose to work, say, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. rather than an 9-to-5 schedule. In the wake of the pandemic, with many teams still working remotely, companies are also promoting windowed work where employees break down their workday into non-consecutive chunks of time 8 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., for example.

Remote work options — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has become the norm for many companies. And employees reported they want this option to continue beyond the pandemic.

Employee discounts — We’re not talking 5 per cent off at the local coffee chain (though we’ll take that, too). But 40 per cent of survey respondents name company-exclusive discounts on big-ticket purchases like cars, homes and smartphones among their most-wanted perks.

Paid parental leave — Employees want to know they can still earn a wage and pursue career goals while caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. Highlighted by 26 per cent of survey respondents, this is a benefit with broad appeal. Companies that offer paid parental leave will likely gain points with top performers who may plan to become a parent — again or for the first time — in the future.

Company-subsidized meals or snacks Organizations that help employees refuel during the workday get a thumbs-up from 20 per cent of those polled. Offering remote workers home meal deliveries or grocery stipends could be a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

PTO for volunteering — Also known as VTO (volunteer time off), this perk gives employees the opportunity to help others without dipping into their PTO. Offering this perk will resonate among employees and job seekers who want to work for a socially responsible company.

At a time when record numbers of people are voluntarily quitting their jobs, a thoughtful and generous benefits and perks package is crucial for keeping your best people around — and recruiting more top talent to join your team.