Workers' needs changed during the pandemic, so it's not surprising that what they want from employers as far as benefits also has shifted.

Employees began to put a premium on benefits like the flexibility to work from home, something which had previously not been an option for many. Workers started gravitating toward employers who offered the best packages for flexibility, work-life balance and support.

Two-fifths of workers leave jobs for positions with companies that offer better benefits, according to a survey this year by Forbes Advisor. One in 10 workers say that they would even take a pay cut if it meant having access to better benefits.

Yet while flexibility is at the top of the list, other perks and incentives will help draw job seekers, employers say. These range from better health benefits, especially when it comes to mental health, to pet insurance, retirement plan contributions and more days off. Professional growth and development also are a top priority, according to a Gallup poll last year.

Arvig, which ranked 21st among large companies on the Star Tribune's Top Workplaces list, started as a small telephone company in 1950. The Perham-based company is now the fourth largest provider of broadband service in the state of Minnesota. Arvig has 936 employees in 15 states, with 800 in Minnesota.

While the technicians who install services and the company's construction crew must work 100% on-site, other departments can be more flexible, said Lori Meader, director of human resources for Arvig.

Many accounting, marketing, human resources, IT, customer care and some sales jobs can be done remotely, she said. Its customer care department, for example, has some employees who choose to work fully in the office, while others are either hybrid or remote workers. Some employees have moved to other states but kept their jobs with Arvig.

"We let the employees decide as much as possible," Meader said.

Employees also are pressing for better wellness and mental health benefits, she said.

"Since COVID and really just in the last 18 to 24 months, that has become a very important benefit," said Meader, adding employees are using mental health benefits more frequently.

Robin Ritter, chief human resources officer for Golden Valley-based Mortenson, said the construction and development company has experienced the same as Arvig.

"At Mortenson we're seeing more usage because we've made those services more accessible to our team members," Ritter said.

In November, Mortenson — which is ranked 16th among large companies on the Top Workplaces list and has more than 1,000 Minnesota employees — began using Spring Health for mental health services. Ritter said the system allows employees to get virtual appointments, often within 24 hours.

"In a very short period we have seen our usage of that benefit increase exponentially," said Ritter.

Through Mortenson's mental health benefits, employees can get eight sessions free. Staffers have access to an unlimited number of virtual appointments.

The company also has added in flexibility in scheduling.

For office workers, "we don't have a set schedule," she said. "Each team [can] figure out where their work is best done and when it's best done being together and when it's best done remotely."

For workers on construction sites, Mortenson has added flexibility to start times which can help employees with child-care demands.

"We are experimenting quite a bit," said Ritter.

The company also offers a unique sabbatical benefit. Every five years, Mortenson employees can take a sabbatical of up to eight weeks. The time off is fully paid.

Eden Prairie-based cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf is a fast-growing company that now has 2,200 employees, 520 of them in Minnesota.

Over the past 12 months, Arctic Wolf added three days a year off if employees are volunteering. It also offers a bonus plan for all employees, tied to the company's success.

The company does not have a standard number of paid time off hours either.

"Arctic Wolf believes that employees should have the opportunity to enjoy time away from work on a flexible basis," said Kristin Dean, chief people officer for the company.

MNGI Digestive Health, with more than 1,000 employees at 10 Minnesota clinics, added a floating holiday and paid parental leave (before the plan passed by the state Legislature). It also developed and supports several remote work and hybrid positions for employees who do not have direct patient care jobs.

"We consciously pay attention to work-life balance for employees, knowing that this is not the same for everyone," said Dr. Scott Ketover, chief executive of MNGI.

But with the tight work market, the practice also evaluates its basic benefit levels.

"We have paid close attention to compensation, making market-rate pay adjustments for some positions, in addition to awarding merit increases to reward employees for performance," he said.