This article was updated on July 11, 2018.
Core benefit packages haven't changed much in the past 20 years, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). If there's a level playing field between top businesses, how will candidates choose where to start their career? HR leaders are turning to unique benefits to pique the curiosity of incoming talent and retain employees. Can extraordinary job perks change the relationship an organization has with its employees or potential candidates?
Here's a look at six uncommon company benefits.
1. Paid Parental Leave
The birth of a child significantly affects employees' lives. However, a leave of absence to care for a child often goes unpaid in America. Facebook took the opportunity to fill this pay gap by offering four months of paid leave to all employees, regardless of gender, according to Money. The leave can be taken any time throughout the year following a birth or adoption.
Netflix offers unlimited paternal and maternal leave for the first year after a baby's born, according to Entrepreneur. "By paying employees while on parental leave, Netflix eliminates the need to switch to state or disability pay," Entrepreneur reports. While the financial investment in a paid parental leave program can be high, it can significantly increase retention rates for valued employees.
2. On-Site Day Care
Organizations should meet the needs of employees as their families grow and can do so with on-site day care centers. Initiating a day care system requires square footage to be allocated, state and federal laws to be considered, among other concerns, such as security and child care training and retention, which can be difficult for many organizations to plan and implement. However, once the program starts — if space permits — organizations will likely gain positive attention by way of attractive resumes and loyal employees. Depending on the size of your employees' child care needs, a lottery may need to be put in place with a waiting list for admission, as well as policies that dictate when and how often parents have access to the facility.
3. Remote Work Environment
Employees want work-life balance, and one way to address their need is to offer telecommuting. According to SHRM, 60 percent of organizations offer telecommuting, and the percentage offering it on an improvised basis has increased to 56 percent. Organizations can save on physical space and resources while employees enjoy flexibility and convenience. Consider investing in instant messaging, video conferencing and project management technology to keep teams in constant communication.
4. Paid Time Off to Volunteer
Consumers think more favorably of socially responsible brands and businesses, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. The same goes for job seekers and employees. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce, 81 percent of employees feel positive about working on personally meaningful projects that impact society. To make it easy for your staff to volunteer, consider providing grants, creating a database of opportunities, sponsoring events or matching employee monetary donations.
5. Job Splitting
One of the most uncommon company benefits is job splitting. Retention can improve over time as dissatisfied employees have the opportunity to test out a new position without ever having to leave the organization. However, issues may go unaddressed without proper communication if employees are jumping back and forth into different departments, and there can be a significant learning curve for different positions. One disadvantage is the time and effort that must go into training for each position. Also, policies must be created dictating what type of lateral moves are allowed, and if pay grades need to be altered based on job splitting.
6. Student Loan Repayment
Attracting talent fresh out of college likely means candidates are starting their careers significantly in debt. According to the SHRM report cited above, 4 percent of employers offer student loan repayment. Before implementing, create detailed policies with a set financial limit of what employees have access to and scrutinize any loan repayment policies to see whether any funds need to be repaid if an individual leaves your organization before the terms are completed.
Strategizing a benefits package that will attract a talented pool of candidates and encourage employees to stay at the organization is one of HR's biggest responsibilities. Before implementing any uncommon company benefits, survey your staff to see what's important to them. Then, meet with your C-suite to align the organization's mission with your new approach to benefits.