Trends in the workplace have been shifting a lot over the past couple of years, especially when it comes to employee benefits. It’s no secret that organisations are trying to do more and more to make themselves stand out as an employer of choice – take Google, for example, who provide free massages for their employees, or those employed by Dropbox who get scooters for travelling around the office.

Whether its massages, scooters, free breakfast, or foosball tables – the shift seems to attempt to incorporate more fun and unexpected activities into office life. While it may seem fun at the time, there are a number of bottom-line employee benefits that really retain employees.

These are great perks, of course, but unless you get the bottom-line right first, they probably won’t do any favours in the long run. It’s important to try and stand out from the crowd and become an employer of choice, and you can do so by offering the perks that really make a difference. But what are the most desired benefits? This varies throughout different age groups, but the prevailing perks for every generation are:

  1. Flexible working

Flexible working is high on the agenda for many and is becoming more and more common. It’s understood that in many roles this might not be an option due to specific demands of a job that require certain hours, but offering flexibility where possible is a big consideration in today’s job market.

This could include aspects like allowing employees to work from home, something which is now very achievable for many. Allowing people to work in a way that suits their needs allows for increased job satisfaction and better work/life balance. Imagine someone in your team had a childcare emergency, for example, but there are strict rules on working hours and little to support the situation – a foosball table isn’t going to do anyone much good in this situation.

  1. Health benefits

Health benefits come in a variety of different forms. From simple aspects like sick pay, to dental and optical insurance, right up to critical illness insurance. This varies from employer to employer, but research shows that this is one of the most sought out employee benefits to consider when looking for a new role.

  1. Holidays and paid-time off

There’s also the growing trend of ‘unlimited holidays’ that has been slowly creeping into many different workplaces. Again, this provides a better work-life balance for employees, which creates a happier and more engaged workforce.

The level of trust given here is also likely to help improve morale, meaning that employees are likely to use the time wisely rather than using it as an excuse to not work. Alternatively, more paid time off is also high on the agenda for many, so while you might not feel comfortable offering unlimited holidays, you could always boost the amount you offer instead. Employees will feel more supported knowing that if they need time off at short notice, they have the potential to use it as holiday time rather than sick time, and it shows your commitment to their well-being.

  1. Support and development

There’s a lot that can fall under this category. The general idea here is that there should be a good system in place for employees to work on both personal and professional development, whether that be through good training programmes or career progression opportunities.

As people, we often need positive reinforcement or recognition for our efforts (to a certain extent). Combining this recognition with a good development programme shows your committed to allowing employees to grow within the organisation – which is a benefit like no other. It’s unlikely your employees will be happy if they feel like they’re in a dead-end role, so allowing them to work towards a positive future in the business will keep employees happy and motivated.

The true characteristics of a positive company culture can developed when the 4 employee benefits we just outlined are in place. No matter how many staff socials and Friday beers you provide, if your employees feel insecure in their roles or feel undervalued, they’ll be moving on before you know it.

Many of those fun perks you see on social media will be cloaking real issues with an organisations culture. When we feel valued and supported at work, we’re more likely to see a future at the organisation, and that’s something that can’t be instilled throughout teams with free snacks and games.

When there’s a strong positive company culture, employees are more productive and engaged. Retention levels will likely be higher because employees are happier knowing that they can be supported through the things that really matter in life, through aspects like flexible working and paid time off.

Not only does it benefit employees, but it has benefits at an organisational level too. While some benefits might be costly to provide, the ROI is worth it. Strong employee retention provides cost savings in itself, as you’re able to reduce spend on recruitment drives and replacing staff. Not to mention that employees are happier and more productive when they’re working for an organisation that shows commitment to their needs and values, meaning more benefits arising from their increased productivity and quality of output.

It also allows you to stand out as an employer of choice. It’s no secret that often the war for talent can be a tough one as we try to find the best candidates to fill our roles – and keep them there. Offering benefits that consider our fundamental needs will have you standing out above the rest. And if you still can’t seem to maintain a competitive advantage, maybe it’s time to benchmark your benefits package against what your competitors have on offer!