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What Benefits Do Employees Care About?

What Benefits Do Employees Care About?

If you’re competing to recruit talented people in any vertical, you know that any advantage you can gain over others is extremely important. It goes without saying that the benefits you offer your employees are a large part of that competition. It’s important to keep up with what others offer in terms of paid time off, retirement benefits and medical insurance, but with the costs involved, you may not be able to differentiate yourself significantly based on these alone. To really get ahead, you need to start thinking outside the box.

Research and Development

An easy way to know which benefits might resonate the most is to conduct an employee feedback survey. This determines which benefits your employees like, which could be improved, and what desired benefits you may not offer yet. However, surveys will only surface the benefits your employees know they want. Therefore it’s important to conduct outside research and learn from what others are providing.

Employee Reviews Are Data

A larger data set you can look at are employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. However, you will need to dedicate time to gather insights and data from the text of the reviews.

The Barometer team dove into the reviews of Glassdoor’s top 10 Best Places to Work by performing an in-depth analysis to uncover what employees had to say about their employers in 2019. We focused on reviews that discussed rare benefits, defined as those that fell outside of the averages determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 Best Places to Work span a range of industries and employee counts, giving a broad view of what employees think are the best benefits.

Popular Benefits

Our team researched the rare benefits that employees most discuss in their company reviews. Despite the large number of benefits mentioned, we noticed they generally fell into these 6 categories:

  • Vacation/Work Life Balance
  • Financial Incentives
  • Food & Beverage
  • Health & Wellness
  • Education
  • Events

There was a slight correlation between number of categories offered and placement in the top 10 Best Places to Work. Of the 10, 7 offered at least 3 categories mentioned, and the top 3 best companies offered all 6 types of benefits to their employees.

Of the 6 categories, Vacation/Work Life Balance benefits was mentioned most frequently, while events were mentioned least frequently. Financial incentives were mentioned almost as much as work life balance benefits, but while financial incentives were usually briefly mentioned, work life balance benefits were praised.

Benefits You Can Implement Easily

These benefits helped companies like HubSpot become known as the best places to work in the U.S., and while you may think that such benefits are expensive, or unrealistic to implement at your company, some are more attainable than you’d think. Out of the 6 categories discovered, 3 included benefits that can be easily implemented at your company.

Vacation and Work Life Balance

The most commonly discussed benefit in this category is work life balance and flexible vacation policy. Providing a healthy balance for employees to work hard, but also enjoy time away from their desk increases productivity in workflow and overall happiness of their well-being. While increasing paid vacation time can be costly and logistically difficult, it’s far easier to allow employees to work remotely or offer flexible hours to accommodate personal engagements.

Of the kinds of benefits that fit into this category, the cheapest to implement would be encouraging schedule flexibility. The most positively discussed benefit we saw was HubSpot’s “Use Good Judgement” policy. In the words of one of their employees “Want to go for Greece for the week? Okay just use good judgement. Want to work from a treehouse? Go for it as long as you use good judgement.” Reading between the lines here – HubSpot trusts and respects their employees’ judgement. This in theory costs them little to nothing but implementing it at your company may take some effort to change your culture.

Food & Beverage

Companies often cover living expenses such as travel and parking, but a less commonly covered expense is meals. Some companies offer company-wide free lunch while others offer snacks in break rooms – any kind of effort that goes towards feeding employees goes a long way.

The Barometer office is one of the companies that offers free snacks in the kitchen and covers employee meals when needed. Our kitchen is continuously stocked with healthy fruits and snacks that provide fuel to stay energized and avoid poor nutrition. On some days, our members need to stay late in the office to provide late updates for our clients. Because this results to missing dinners, we deliver warm meals to make sure our teams don’t go home on an empty stomach.  


Providing continued education in terms of learning new skills and strategies is easily accessible compared to other benefit categories. Although education can come with a price, employers can practice low cost education events such as team lunch and learns, on the job training, in-office mentorship programs, or career development workshops.

Each time the Barometer team onboard a new employee, we ensure that they are assigned to proper training that educates them on our product and discuss company insights. During the first week of employment, their manager oversees meeting with the new hire and going through how the Barometer product works. We also provide ongoing training on best practices and feedback from clients. This ensures every employee understands Barometer and how we can continue to develop innovative strategies that help our clients.

Other Benefits

These are just a few of the benefits were frequently mentioned throughout these employee reviews. Our research found several other effective benefits that the top companies offer, which could inspire you to improve your current offerings to help you attract and hold on to top talent.

If you want to learn more about our research on rare benefits offered by the Best Places to Work, you can download the full research here.

Preparing to change compensation at your company? Read this first.
What Drives Glassdoor Company Ratings?
Published by Tom Aberman May 15, 2020
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