Corporate Perks

Corporate Perks Candidates are Asking for in 2024

Corporate Perks Candidates are Asking for in 2024
Reading Time: 7 minutes

As with any starting year, 2024 has come with both unexpected and expected turns in the job market. While some workplace and hiring trends have been cooking for the past years, others hit out of the blue and have shaken the workforce. In this scenario, companies will need to improve their corporate perks if they expect to attract and retain top talent.

Even though the “new year, new career” trend remains strong for the start of the year as 95% of workers are either actively looking or planning to look for a new job in 2024, it’s unlikely to lead to a new Great Resignation. Nevertheless, with the majority of the workforce embarking on a job search and triggering a new war for talent, compelling perks at work will set the pace to attract high performers.

The future of work has definitely undergone a large number of changes since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. And while some companies seem to be getting the hang of this ongoing work revolution, others are now repelling candidates and employees by making all the wrong moves.

By the end of February, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.8 million job openings across the US, maintaining a rate of 5.3% for the third month. Although the figures are a bit down compared to previous years’ partials, companies should have no problem getting top talent to their doorstep, even if they lack honed employee benefits.

However, with workers speaking up and refusing to quit remote work and the new take on work-life balance, candidates are now reassessing their priorities, including corporate perks. Here’s where some companies are going wrong about their employees’ needs and examples of perks at work candidates are setting their eyes on.

Stuck in the past

Companies that are still suffering the effects of the Great Resignation have one thing in common: they’re holding on to the past. Outdated policies like return-to-office plans, when workers can efficiently perform their duties remotely, have triggered turnover rates since 95% of employed Americans want some form of remote work, whether wholly or hybrid. 

But it’s not just about staying remote. Candidates who have either quit or are planning on leaving their jobs were surprised to see job offers that kept low salaries and high demands. Though this was how many companies reacted to the pandemic, 64% percent of the workforce expects a higher salary due to inflation and the current increased cost of living.

Let’s not forget that since the pandemic hit, a large amount of the population was discharged or laid off, and many companies did their best to keep as many people as possible by lowering wages. The question is: should those salaries get raised?

There are definitely many companies that are still financially recovering and might be offering all they can, but what makes job seekers turn away is the new demands in qualifications from some of those job posts. Some positions ask for “near perfect” candidates who can take over a two-person job. 

So, with high performers getting low-balled into 9-to-5 office jobs with added commuting time, it’s no wonder top talent is hesitant to jump headfirst into an old-fashioned routine.

Righting wrongs or missing the mark?

Now, even with the issue of mending salaries and requirements, some companies are still missing the mark when it comes to employee engagement, especially those who want to bring their workforce back to the office.

Some company leaders have decided to make the office fun and attractive so that employees enjoy their time there. However, candidates and employees are wondering if it’s worth the bargain.

This is not to say that free snacks and food discounts or Friday’s live music sessions are bad ideas, and throwing a hybrid model into the mix will likely make your local workforce more inclined to work in the office. But there are more things at play than making the office a desirable place to be. It’s about the balance of what workers are giving up and what they’re receiving that’ll make the difference between a current and former employee.

So, what do they really want? Or better yet, what do they need?

What’s the difference between employee benefits packages and perks at work?

Employee benefits and corporate perks are commonly grouped, but even though both improve employee experience, they are two different things. 

Employee benefits packages address workers’ core needs, such as health care and work-life balance; they may include insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, and parental leave. Some of them, like time off for jury duty or wage requirements, are required by law; nevertheless, while others are not legally necessary, there is a standard expected to be covered by most job seekers

On the other hand, corporate perks are nice-to-have incentives that make your job and the workplace more enjoyable. Perks at work are an excellent way for employers to show their appreciation to employees. Actually, they’re gaining on the field since 68% of workers feel these are just as important as other traditional job benefits. Having the right combination of employee benefits and perks at work will highlight your company as one that’s willing to go the extra mile to bet on employee wellness.

A fresher take on corporate perks

Here are some of the corporate perks candidates are asking for in 2023:

Better salaries

This is still the number one reason why people feel the need to go from employees to job seekers. Very much like the companies, candidates took a pretty big hit on their finances and are now looking for better financial stability and the ability to grow a savings account for emergencies.

Financial counseling

Corporate perks related to financial welfare are compelling and attractive for candidates. Even though higher salaries are the aspect most impacts workers’ pockets, other actions can help their finances. Fiscal counseling, financial wellness programs, and retirement planning for employees’ 401k plans are just a few perks at work that will make a company more attractive.

Flexible hours

What used to be one of those perks at work that made companies slightly more attractive is now growing into a must in a work-life balance context. Priorities have shifted, and people need to make room for their health, personal projects, and, more importantly, their loved ones.

Working remotely

So many people moved back to their hometowns during the pandemic, while others decided to live as digital nomads and embrace the laptop lifestyle. One thing is for sure, none of them plan to move back, at least not permanently. Candidates keep leaning toward the opportunity for more choices, not only for where they live and how they work, but for what they can do with their lives in general.

Sabbatical leaves

Although corporate perks are already attractive in nature, there are some rare employee benefits that can make a company stand out even more. Sabbatical is one of those uncommon but unique perks at work that not many employers dare to include it among their benefits. 

Since the law requires companies to provide vacations and parental leave, and on top of that, some companies already offer PTOs, companies remain hesitant about giving sabbaticals. Nevertheless, sabbaticals let employees focus on their growth as they’re able to recharge and stay productive while avoiding burnout.

Wellness subscriptions

As a result of the pandemic, many companies started including wellness subscriptions as part of their benefits package, which includes physical and mental health. Peloton, the fitness company best known for its treadmills and bikes, made news a couple of years ago when large companies like Accenture and Samsung started subsidizing access to their digital fitness program and equipment.

Home-office stipends 

Companies that are going full-remote work or adopting a hybrid model should offer stipends or reimbursement for home office equipment which, in the eyes of candidates, should at least cover their laptops as well as the software or tools required to get the job done. Some companies are now also including stipends for ergonomic office chairs and desks. 

Training for the future

Something that is definitely catching the eye of potential candidates is companies’ training programs or grants to further advance their skills. Candidates staying in their area or industry have their eyes set on upskilling and getting even better in their fields. While those switching careers are looking for jobs that include a reskilling program so they can get the hang of it.

PTO and holidays

For at least one whole year, people mostly stayed indoors dealing with the stress of uncertainty. This also gave them time to think about all the time they spent being productive and how they gave themselves little time to replenish and actually enjoy life. Companies who understand this are now offering more paid time off, and some are even discussing adopting a 4-day-week model.

Childcare and eldercare

Overall, time is the one factor that has become more precious, more specifically, what we can do with it. There are candidates who don’t just want to but need to stay at home so that they can take care of their families. However, if companies really want to take it a step further, they might want to rethink how to extend company perks to the employees’ families through childcare and eldercare programs.

Performance bonuses

If improving salaries is not an option because your company is still recovering financially, implementing incentive programs will keep your workers motivated to meet their objectives to get these monetary rewards. Keep in mind these don’t work as substitutes for better salaries, which should be one of your top measures. Performance bonuses work more as compensation for your employees’ commitment and hard work, not just production. 

Employee recognition

Recognition is one of the most effective employee engagement strategies. Though there are different ways to recognize an employee’s labor such as compliments to gift cards, dynamics or moments of gratitude will bring your employees closer making them feel valued. Creating a  recognition program that’s tied to specific values is the perfect start for promoting an acknowledgment culture. 

Team building activities

Company events focusing on loosening up the grind of daily office tasks is another excellent way to show your employees you’re interested in their well-being. This is the best of both worlds since treating your staff encourages solidifies the connection to your company’s culture. Company retreats, parties, and other team-building activities are a major perk at work because they allow your entire workforce to focus on bonding. 

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Candidates and employees are giving more relevance to socially responsible values. Therefore, companies’ ideals and ethics are reshaping their corporate perks. Specific actions related to an employer’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles, such as salary transparency and workplace transparency, reflect their commitment to keep a healthy and diverse work environment.

Community contributions

Charity work and social responsibility have a considerable impact on millennials’ job decisions and engagement with their company. The younger generations of workers see a big value in companies that make community contributions and who encourage their employees to make a social impact. Company charity activities also work as team bonding and culture reinforcement activities.

What can you do?

  • As companies: Keep doing your research and asking your workforce what they want to do. Remember, it’s not about pleasing everyone but strategically analyzing all of your possibilities to keep top talent from leaving your company.
  • As recruiters: Dig deep into these questions when interviewing candidates to find out what their greatest motivations are in this new global context, and make sure to ask companies about how they plan to cater to those needs.
  • As employees: Make a conscious evaluation of what you really want and if it’s something your company can or would provide. However, if you are already set on becoming a job seeker, examine your opportunities or work closely with a recruiter to find those corporate perks that make sense to your needs.

Contributed by Monica Martin del Campo, Mary Dominguez, & Luis Arellano.

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