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35 Unique Employee Benefits to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Designing or updating your company's benefits package? Get inspiration from this list of 35 unique benefits.

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In today's competitive hiring market, offering creative employee benefits is a crucial differentiator for any organization. A great benefits package can be the difference between retaining your current employees or losing them to your competitors: 43% of employees who left their jobs in 2021 cited poor benefits as a factor.

Many employers of choice today are already offering excellent insurance plans, hybrid work schedules, PTO, and more. So what are the next steps they can take to provide the most competitive benefits that have top talent knocking on their door?

To help you create top-notch programs that stand out from traditional employee benefits, we've collected a list of unique employee benefits below. 

Family and health benefits

Employees want to work for organizations that care about their health and wellbeing and that of their families. Consider incorporating the following benefits in your benefits package to demonstrate your investment in employee wellness. 

Adoption assistance

More organizations are offering fertility benefits, but only 1 in 5 companies also provide coverage for adoption assistance. Families that want to adopt are faced with astronomical costs, spending anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 throughout the process.

Same-sex couples or those who are medically unable to carry a child to term can also explore surrogacy, but the costs are even more prohibitive, costing up to $50,000 to $60,000. Leading organizations such as American Express reimburse employees up to $35,000 of adoption and surrogacy costs for up to two children.

Companies can offer adoption assistance as a tax-free benefit. For adoptions finalized in 2023, up to $15,950 in adoption assistance provided by an employer may be excluded from an employee’s taxable income. On the other hand, surrogacy expenses are not considered tax-advantaged and should be covered in a taxable spending account.  

Health and wellness programs

Highlighting your wellness initiatives can be a selling point to potential hires, particularly Millennials and Gen Zers who strongly value mental health, wellness, and work-life balance. 87% of employees consider health and wellness benefits when choosing where to work, so it’s important to invest in employee wellbeing and support employees both in and out of the workplace. 

Consider offering a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) so employees can use pre-tax dollars to pay for healthcare expenses. Medical debt is a stressor for many, and these accounts offer a cost-effective way to save for these expenses using tax-free income. A wellness stipend is another option that allows employers to give employees funds for a variety of expenses such as massages, gym memberships, online therapy, and more. 

Childcare benefits

Childcare is an enormous expense for your employees who are parents. Recent research by The Penny Hoarder found that 84% of parents feel overwhelmed by the cost of childcare. Almost 28% of parents have had to choose between paying for childcare or paying their rent or mortgage on time, while about 35% have had to choose between paying for childcare or paying credit card bills on time. 

To help working parents with childcare expenses, companies such as Patagonia, Bank of America, Google, and Microsoft are offering some version of childcare benefits. Many companies realized the need for these benefits during the pandemic and are now continuing to support parents as they return to the office. A dependent care FSA (DCFSA) is a tax-advantaged option that helps allocate pre-tax dollars toward eligible childcare expenses.

Our recent 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide showed that DCFSAs were the third most popular pre-tax benefit, with 63% of companies offering it as part of their benefits package. Flexible family and childcare stipends are another option for helping your employees pay for childcare. 

Top Pre-Tax Accounts 2023

Fertility benefits

1 in 6 people worldwide face an infertility diagnosis, defined as struggling to achieve pregnancy within one year of trying to conceive. Fertility benefits are services designed to support employees in starting or adding to a family. These benefits often help employees pay for the costs of medical treatments such as:

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
  • Egg and embryo freezing
  • Sperm banking
  • Egg donor programs
  • Fertility medications

Your fertility program may cover a portion or all of the costs of these procedures to alleviate the financial burden for employees struggling to afford these treatments on their own. A single IVF cycle costs $15,000 to $20,000, depending on individual treatment needs, and may reach $30,000.

Providing support for employees as they are growing their families demonstrates your care for employees and helps you attract and retain talented employees at different stages of their parenthood journeys. In addition to offering fertility benefits, you can provide coverage for adoption and surrogacy expenses as part of a larger family forming benefits package to create the most inclusive benefit possible. 

Menopause benefits

During menopause, women experience a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms that can impact their daily lives. 85% of women report symptoms that vary in nature and severity, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. These symptoms inevitably impact employees’ stress and productivity at work, and studies have shown that one in 10 women quit their jobs due to menopause symptoms. 

Companies can break the stigma and support employees through this life transition by offering menopause benefits. A recent Bank of America study found that half of of peri- and post-menopausal women (51%) report menopause has negatively impacted their work life, yet only 14% believe their employers recognize the need for menopause-specific benefits. Nearly two-thirds (64%) reported wanting menopause benefits, and 58% of women reported these benefits have had a positive impact on their work when offered. 

These benefits can include flexible working arrangements such as working from home, part-time work, or adjusted hours. You can also offer access to virtual healthcare services, mental health support, and menopause education. Offering these services helps employees access the care they need and reduces their emotional stress as they navigate this change. 

Nursing mother benefits

Women with children are a sizeable segment of the workforce—in 2023, 74% of mothers with children under 18 were in the labor force. These employees have unique needs from their employers, such as flexible working arrangements and nursing mother benefits. Forbes reports that 43% of women leave the workforce within three months of childbirth, due in part to not receiving adequate breastfeeding support from their employers. 

Companies that provide nursing mother benefits experience increased retention and productivity. Employers of companies with lactation support programs have seen a 94.2% retention rate, compared to the 59% national average. 

These benefits can include:

  • Designated private areas for milk expression
  • Breast pump equipment and coolers or refrigerators for storing milk
  • Flexible breaks and work hours to help nursing mothers incorporate time for milk expression into their schedules
  • Educational resources such as postpartum lactation counseling or a resource library containing breastfeeding materials

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)

A health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) is an employer-funded account that offers employees money to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. Employers can offer these pre-tax accounts to help employees pay for mental healthcare, fertility treatments, gender confirmation surgery, or medical travel. 

HRAs are one way to live out your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values. Traditional health insurance plans are not inclusive and may not cover certain services for underrepresented populations. For example, many insurance companies providing coverage for fertility treatments rely on outdated policies that don’t take into account the many different ways families come to be. With an HRA, you can help employees receive the care they need without driving up health insurance premiums for the entire group. 

Education and professional development benefits

Investing in your employees’ growth and development helps you cultivate a strong workforce and upskill your workforce to adapt to changing needs. Talented employees desire a workplace that cares about their continued growth and professional development. Consider providing the following types of unique employee benefits to show that you care about the continued growth and professional development of your employees. 

Access to online courses 

Providing access to online courses from local colleges and universities or websites such as Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera is an excellent way to support continued learning and development at your organization. Employees can choose the courses that best suit their goals and learning styles. 

Companies can cover these expenses in a taxable spending account, but they can also offer up to $5,250 annually in tax-free educational expenses or tuition reimbursement benefits as part of an educational assistance program. The IRS requires employers to create a written plan for educational assistance benefits. Educational assistance is defined as payment for expenses incurred by employees for education, such as course fees, tuition, books, supplies, and equipment. It can also include courses that employers provide to employees. 

Conferences and workshops

Employees will have varied preferences regarding their continued learning and development. While some employees enjoy online courses, others may prefer to attend industry conferences and workshops to hone their skills and network with other like-minded professionals. 

Offer company-funded tickets to relevant events that employees can attend to learn about the latest trends and developments in their respective fields. Employees will learn from leaders in their field or industry and leave feeling inspired to try new things, expand their creativity, and share their knowledge with colleagues. 

Professional and personal development stipends

A survey from The Conference Board found that 58% of employees are more likely to leave an employer if they do not offer professional development opportunities. Flexibility is key to building a successful professional development program. Every employee will have different needs when it comes to their professional development, whether it’s career coaching, conference tickets, online courses, or newsletter subscriptions. Restricting employees to pre-set classes or one specific course platform limits the potential of an employee development program. This makes a flexible professional development stipend an attractive option for companies that want to invest in continued learning. 

Personal development and enrichment programs have also been on the rise at leading organizations. These programs allow employees to pursue hobbies such as art, music, cooking, creative writing, or photography. Engaging in creative activities can reduce cortisol levels, providing an instant feeling of calm. It also causes us to use different parts of our brain, developing previously untapped problem-solving and thinking skills.  

Student loan assistance

Student loan repayment is a unique employee benefit that can make a big impact on your employees’ lives. Employers with a large Millennial population may want to consider this benefit as over 14 million Millennials have student loan debt, more than any other generation. PwC offers a benefit where they pay up to $1,200 a year toward student loans. Over time, this may reduce student loan principal and interest obligations by $10,000 and shorten loan payoff by up to three years. 

Mentoring and networking opportunities

Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The best learning and development opportunities give employees the chance to learn from others in their field. Provide structured mentoring programs that pair employees with an experienced colleague in their field who can share their knowledge and support their mentee’s professional growth. These programs sharpen your employees’ skill sets, expand their networks, and demonstrate your investment in the continued learning of your employees.

One-on-one mentoring is the most common format, but you can also consider other formats like group mentoring, mentoring circles, or reverse mentoring, where junior-level employees mentor senior-level leaders. Whichever format you choose, the goal is to foster career advancement and personal growth for both mentees and mentors. 

Financial literacy programs

Lack of financial literacy is a problem impacting many—for eight consecutive years, Americans could correctly answer only around 50 percent of P-Fin index questions that explore functional areas across finance, such as earnings, savings, insuring, and comprehending risk. 

Financial worries impact employees’ stress levels and productivity at work. PwC’s 2023 Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 57% of employees say finances are the top cause of stress in their lives, impacting their sleep, mental health, self-esteem, physical health, and relationships at home. Nearly half of employees who are stressed about their finances say that it distracts them from work, reporting that they spend three hours or more per week at work thinking about or dealing with personal finance issues. 

A solid financial literacy program can help employees reduce this stress and feel more confident about their ability to tackle financial issues, especially as inflation concerns continue to be a top stressor. These programs can include:

  • Financial education workshops
  • Digital financial education
  • Financial coaching
  • Budgeting apps
  • Student loan repayment

Paid time off

Paid time off is a standard work benefit, but there’s a lot of room to provide benefits that stand out from the usual 10 days of vacation and holiday time off. Consider the following variations to offer paid time off benefits that help employees recharge. 

Sabbaticals

A sabbatical is an extended paid period of time away from work, which some companies offer as a reward for completing a certain amount of years of service. This benefit demonstrates your appreciation for those employees who have invested their time into your company and contributed to its success. 

Sabbaticals last anywhere from one month to one year, depending on the company’s policy and the employee’s years of service. For example, Adobe offers four weeks of sabbatical to employees who have completed five years of service and five weeks to employees who have been employed for 10 years. Similarly, Hubspot employees receive a four-week paid sabbatical and a sabbatical bonus after being employed for five years. Employees use the time off to take vacations with their families, partake in personal hobbies, or enjoy month-long honeymoons. 

Monthly Fridays off

Another unique option is to offer one Friday off per month so employees can enjoy a three-day weekend. You can offer this benefit as a reward for reaching certain milestones, goals, or achievements. Employees often lament that the weekend never feels long enough, so the extra day can be a game-changer that allows employees to truly rest and recharge. 

Rolling three-day weekends

If you want to provide regular three-day weekends to all employees, rolling three-day weekends are a great option. Through this benefit, a percentage of your company can enjoy a Friday off every three to four weeks. This structure allows every employee to partake in the benefit while ensuring that you have enough employees on hand to maintain core functions and avoid gaps in essential work coverage. 

Parental leave

While the U.S. has no national policy for maternity leave, several states have mandated a maternity leave policy. Depending on the state, this leave may also be taken by fathers or after a child is adopted or fostered. Provide a competitive, progressive parental leave policy by offering time off for all parents, regardless of gender or family structure. 

Stipends and reimbursements

Flexible stipends and reimbursements are an emerging trend in employee benefits that allow employers to offer more personalized benefits to their employees. Consider adding the following offerings to your benefits package to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. 

Wellness stipends

A MetLife study found that holistically healthy employees are 74% more likely to be satisfied with their current job, 59% more likely to feel engaged, and 53% more likely to be productive. Wellness stipends provide employees with post-tax funds to spend on a variety of wellness-related expenses, including fitness classes, workout equipment, personal training, massages, spa and beauty services, meditation apps, online therapy, and more. 

A wellness stipend gives employees a guilt-free avenue for taking care of their mental and physical health, improving employee satisfaction and engagement. Employees will feel supported and cared for and are more likely to remain at your organization, leading to lower rates of turnover. 

Commuter benefits 

The daily commute is a stressful, expensive experience for your employees who travel into the office. With remote work remaining a norm, employees may feel less than thrilled about resuming a commute if you have mandated a return to work policy. To incentivize these employees to come into the office, consider offering commuter benefits that help offset the costs of traveling to and from work.  

Companies can offer up to $315 per month on transit expenses and $315 per month on parking expenses as tax-free programs. A taxable commuter benefits program is also an option if you want to provide more flexibility and allow employees to spend their benefits on not just transit and parking expenses but also on gas, hybrid charging stations, tolls, ridesharing services, bicycle expenses, and more. Consider the needs of your workforce and the pros and cons of pre-tax vs. post-tax commuter benefits before deciding which type of program to implement. 

Gas stipends

Along with commuter benefits, you can offer a separate taxable gas stipend. A gas stipend is a fixed sum of money that covers part or all of an employee’s fuel expenses. The stipend is paid upfront, usually on a monthly basis. Gas stipends help employees pay for rising gas costs and offset the financial burden of their daily commutes. 

Travel stipends 

Rested employees are healthier, more productive, and less stressed. But some employees may struggle to take time off because they feel pressure to stay on top of work or they can't afford an expensive vacation. To encourage employees to take PTO and recharge, some employers are offering travel and vacation stipends that cover airfare, rental homes, and other vacation expenses. 

Companies like Airbnb, Calendly, and BambooHR offer employees flexible travel stipends they can use toward vacation because they recognize the positive impact of stepping away from work to travel and relax. Vacation stipends go one step further than PTO in showing employees that your company truly supports their time off. 

Pet care stipends

People spend a lot of money on their pets. Research by Finmasters found that Americans spent $124 billion on pet products and services in 2021. Two out of three households own a pet, with the average dog owner spending $1,480 and the average cat owner spending $902. Many companies offer subsidized pet insurance to help employees pay for vet services, but more are beginning to offer flexible pet care stipends that cover a wider range of pet expenses, such as toys, food, dog training, and other supplies. 

Employees can also use these funds to pay for dog walking or pet sitting, a huge plus for employees who welcomed new pets during the pandemic and may now be returning to the office or working hybrid schedules. For these employees, this benefit can relieve any worries about leaving their pets at home when they are used to being home all day with them. 

Food stipends

Office snacks have long been a staple of work culture. But more companies are realizing the benefits of providing flexible food and meal stipends that employees can use to purchase groceries, food deliveries, or meal kits. As more companies shift to hybrid or remote work arrangements, in-office perks such as cold brew on tap or on-site cafeterias no longer make sense. 

Instead, flexible meal allowances give employees more power to purchase food that fits their lifestyles and personal preferences. They are also more equitable than providing food benefits through a corporate account with a delivery service company such as Grubhub or DoorDash because they provide more options for employees who live far from urban centers. Companies who move away from corporate accounts can save a considerable amount in delivery service fees. 

Website development platform Wix previously provided employees with a food benefit through a Grubhub corporate account. They launched a more flexible, equitable, and cost-effective food benefit for employees through Benepass. Employees can spend their funds on food delivery, groceries, weekly dinner subscription boxes, local restaurants, and more. The program now receives participation rates of over 90% thanks to its flexibility and ease of use. Read the full customer story to explore how Wix designed a flexible food program with high engagement.

Work from home stipends

As more companies have shifted toward a remote-first or hybrid work model, they have begun offering work from home stipends that allow employees to furnish their home offices. Tech leaders like Twitter, Facebook, and Google offer $1,000 for remote work expenses such as office chairs, desks, or computer monitors.

Companies can also create WFH stipends that cover coworking. For example, project management software company Basecamp offers employees $100 a month to rent coworking space. Our benchmarking guide found that WFH stipends were the third most popular benefit, with 37% of companies offering them at an average of $821. 

Software company Jamf designed a remote work account with Benepass so employees could purchase the items they need to build a comfortable workspace, including:

  • Computer monitors and desk mounts
  • Tech accessories like keyboards and headphones
  • Printers and scanners
  • Office furniture
  • Tea and coffee equipment
  • Under-desk treadmills
  • Rugs or mouse pads

The flexibility of the program led to high engagement rates of 98%. Read the full customer story to learn how Jamf created a successful remote work benefit. 

Cell phone stipends 

Many companies also provide a monthly cell phone stipend or internet allowance so employees can use their personal devices for work and have the high-speed service they need to work remotely. A cell phone stipend can complement a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy, which is more cost-effective than supplying company cell phones to employees. Our benchmarking report found that companies provide an average of $41 per month in a monthly cell phone allowance, or $102 per month if they bundle cell phone and internet stipends together.

Technology stipends

Employees require laptops, monitors, keyboards, and a whole host other technology to perform their jobs effectively. Technology stipends are a fixed sum companies offer employees to cover expenses related to using technology for work.

Employees may use their stipend to cover internet bills, software subscriptions, and equipment like laptops, monitors, headphones, printers, or microphones. These stipends are a great option if you have a remote employee base and want to ensure they have all the tools they need to do their best work and stay productive. 

Entertainment funds

Similar to personal enrichment benefits, some companies offer employees entertainment or cultural experience funds because they know that when employees feel fulfilled in their personal lives, it's easier to bring their best selves to work. These funds can help employees pay for concert or movie tickets, streaming services, podcasts, Spotify subscriptions, books, and more. 

Home services stipends

To make their home life comfortable and conducive to productive work, some companies are offering home services stipends that allow employees to pay for cleaning services, trash pickup, or pet care. These stipends are sometimes rolled up into WFH benefits because they create a better working environment for remote employees. 

Curious about the variety of stipends you can offer to employees? We put together a guide to employee stipends to provide an overview of this popular employee benefit and offer inspiration as you design your stipend program. Download the guide to learn about the types of stipends available and how to design a successful program.

A Complete Guide to Employee Stipends: 14 Ideas With Tips and Best Practices

Perks

Along with stipends, there are a variety of perks you can offer employees to show your appreciation and support. Consider including the following employee perks in your benefits package for increased morale and engagement. 

Birthday and anniversary gifts

Employees want to feel like their employers care about them as a person and appreciate their contributions to the company. Providing a birthday or work anniversary gift is a token of appreciation that will go a long way in boosting employee morale.

Many companies provide a gift card or gift basket, but a one-time cash stipend is another option that will allow employees to spend their reward on items that best suit their preferences. With Benepass, companies can create birthday or work anniversary benefits that automate one-time stipend contributions depending on your company’s unique eligibility requirements. 

Gym or spa memberships 

To help employees care for their physical health and wellness, some companies provide discounted memberships to gyms or spas. This type of benefit allows employees to save on the costs of regular exercise classes, massages, and beauty treatments. 

Mental health and wellness apps

Employees may desire access to certain tools that help them care for their mental health and wellness, such as meditation or wellbeing apps. Provide free or discounted memberships to apps like Calm, Headspace, Talkspace, and BetterHelp to support your employees’ wellbeing.

Group events and outings

Team bonding is an essential component of a healthy company culture, and group events and outings can help employees get to know one another in a more casual setting. Organize fun team outings like cooking classes, game tournaments, sports events, escape rooms, or trivia nights to improve employee morale and strengthen your company culture. 

Free meals and happy hours

Social connection often happens over meals and drinks. Consider offering free food and happy hours to your employees on a regular basis to improve company morale and provide opportunities for socialization. 

Care packages

Care packages are another option if you want to provide a perk that demonstrates appreciation and care for your employees. You can provide care packages to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, work accomplishments, or to offer support to employees during times of personal hardship. 

The ultimate unique employee benefit

Flexibility and personalization are key to providing benefit options that employees enjoy and engage with. Consider offering a lifestyle spending account to give employees more choice and control over how they spend their benefits. 

Lifestyle spending accounts (LSAs)

The most flexible benefit of all is a lifestyle spending account. An LSA is an employer-sponsored benefit that provides post-tax funds for employees’ everyday needs. Employers design the LSA to include a variety of eligible spending categories, and employees spend the funds as they wish. Eligible expenses can include gym memberships, fitness equipment, therapy, massages, nail salon appointments, plants, WFH equipment, professional development, groceries, meal deliveries, and more.

LSAs are becoming more popular because their inherent flexibility allows employees to get the most out of their benefits. They are also very easy to scale as companies grow because eligible spending categories can be quickly added at any time.

LSAs were the second most popular perk in our benchmarking guide, with 37% of companies offering them at an average of $171 in monthly funds. A recent Mercer Insights Survey also found that 70% of companies are considering adding an LSA to their benefits package. The chart below shows a breakdown of the most common eligible spending categories we found in our benchmarking report. Fitness, nutrition, and mental health top the list. If you are looking for ways to attract and retain your talent or increase engagement with your benefits programs, LSAs are a great option.  

LSA Coverage - All Accounts

Get more ideas

To learn more about the types of unique employee benefits leading companies are offering, download the 2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide. The report breaks down how companies of all sizes are creating programs for wellness, LSA, WFH, personal enrichment, meals, and more. Download the report to get started.

2023 Benepass Benefits Benchmarking Guide

Benepass is a flexible benefits platform to manage and administer a variety of pre-tax benefits and post-tax stipends. Design one of the following accounts to create a comprehensive benefits package that attracts and retains top talent: 

Ready to start building unique benefits that improve employee satisfaction? Book a free Benepass demo today to see our platform in action, or contact sales@getbenepass.com to connect with a benefits specialist. 

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Annalisa Rodriguez

Content Marketing Manager

Annalisa is the Content Marketing Manager at Benepass. She has 9+ years of experience in writing, editing, and content strategy.

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