It's dinner time, but instead of heading home from work, employees at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach are seated in the hotel's event space with their eyes closed, learning how to breathe and clear their minds. A half-hour later, when they open their eyes, they are handed a sticker by an Innergy Meditation instructor that reads "I meditated today."
Among the participants is Silvia Pereda, who announces she is pleased that the hotel's newest perk has been so well received.
"Doing these things drives our organization," says Pereda, vice president of human resources for the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. "If our employees are happy and engaged, they are more likely to stay here."
Onsite meditation, yoga, mindfulness — programs that help workers de-stress — are the latest workplace benefits that employers are rolling out as they try harder to keep their employees happy. Recent research from Glassdoor.com, a California-based jobs and recruiting website, found that more than half (57 percent) of people said benefits and perks are among their top considerations when considering accepting a job, and that four in five workers say they would prefer additional benefits over a pay raise.
During the recession, companies pulled back on perks as they cut costs. But now hiring has resumed, salaries are rising, and the fancy perks are back and more creative than ever. A growing number of employers are introducing enticements such as cooking classes, student loan assistance, spot bonuses, standing desks, paid leave and free snacks or meals.
At minimum, most employers offer the basics — medical, dental, vacation, 401(k). Those benefits are offered at the same level as they were 20 years ago, but the number and types of additional benefits that organizations offer has grown, according to the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2016 Employee Benefits Survey, a comparison of employer-offered benefits from 1996 to 2016.
The challenge for employers is providing the additional benefits their employees will use. For working parents, that could be onsite child care, paid time off, maybe even dinners to go. Younger workers are attracted to fun benefits like fitness classes or workplace contests. And older workers often want perks like multiple retirement savings plans and onsite financial planning.
The three top benefits employees say are important to their job satisfaction are paid time off, health care/medical benefits, and flexibility to balance life and work issues, the SHRM survey shows. But employees also say they appreciate extra perks such as generous paid parental leave, unlimited paid time off, and the ability to bring their pets to work.
It's not just big employers ramping up offerings. Small employers are introducing some cool perks, too — like monthly happy hours at Quest Workspaces, the company that operates co-working spaces in South Florida and New York.
To create a "fun" environment for her 25 mostly millennial workers, CEO/founder Laura Kozelouzek has come up with perks to help them bond with co-workers and develop their skills. Quest offers a shadowing program for all levels and social events such as picnics, an annual weekend cruise, a manager getaway and, yes, monthly team happy hours.