Vacation time? Check. Fridays off during the summer? Check. When it comes to recruiting the top employees for your company, the way to do it is by making people want to work for you.

Research from Glassdoor found that 57 percent of people said benefits and perks are among their top considerations before accepting a job, and four in five workers say they would prefer new benefits over a pay raise. The top five benefits ranked by employees, said Glassdoor:

  1. Health care insurance: 40%
  2. Vacation/paid time off: 37%
  3. Performance bonus: 35%
  4. Paid sick days: 32%
  5. 401(k) plan, retirement plan and/or pension: 31%

“Comprehensive benefit packages help employers stay competitive in the job market. While the law does not require that companies provide retirement plans, health plans, dental or vision plans, life insurance plans, or paid vacation time, many firms still provide these benefits, and many candidates have come to expect at least some of these benefits, especially as they progress to the higher management positions,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Compounding the situation is that the new age cohort of workers, Millennials and Gen Z, are attracted by options that are considered untraditional, like student loan assistance, bring-your-pet-to-work days, and flexible work schedules,” says Challenger.

What are some of the non-traditional, yet popular ways to attract and retain employees?


Continued Education

According to Challenger, employees who have opportunities for professional development are more engaged at work. Those with opportunities to further education and development are 15 percent more engaged than those without these prospects.


Student Loan Help

According to a recent Challenger firm survey, nearly 73 percent of employers plan to offer student loan assistance as a recruitment tool. Challenger says that this benefit, while untraditional, could go a long way in attracting and retaining top talent.


“Grooming” Money

2HB, a company that provides Systems Engineering and Software Engineering services, includes standard of living expenses, including $50 for “grooming,” i.e., a haircut.


A Luggage Party

At law firm Freeborn and Peters, every employee is eligible for a “luggage party.” Bring your packed bag into the office for the party.  Four names are drawn, and the winners are whisked away by limo to the airport for an all-expenses paid weekend trip.



Much like a student’s summer break, sabbaticals are a time for employees to explore passions and travel before coming back to work refreshed. Generally, all, or at least part, of these vacations are paid, and they are offered every couple of years. Companies like Intel and Zillow use sabbaticals to reward long-term employees.


Pet Insurance

According to a Fortune article, pet insurance is now the hottest employee benefit. Around 5,000 U.S. companies currently offer it.


Family Time

Here’s a favorite of mine: family time. Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, for example, allows its on-staff parents to take time off, no questions asked, to attend their children’s events and activities. And at Facebook, new parents get four months of paid parental leave, reimbursement for day care and adoption fees, and up to $4,000 in “baby cash” after their child is born. Netflix offers one paid year of maternity and paternity leave to new parents.


Flex Schedules and Telecommuting

“Employment is what you do, not where you do it,” says Charles Wilsker, president of the Telework Coalition, an advocacy group that promotes the awareness and acceptance of telecommuting and work-from-home activities. About 33 percent of U.S. employees are involved in telework each week, Wilsker says. Amazon, Apple and IBM all offer telework opportunities. And during Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. patent & Trademark Office, due to its Work@Home Program, was 70-percent productive.


Gym Memberships/Wellness Competitions

While gym membership is a staple benefit at many companies, other wellness incentives could include registration for a road race. Fitbit competitions are increasingly popular.  The investment keeps employees healthy and productive and promotes an active culture.

What are you doing to attract and retain your team? Email me at