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4 Employee Benefits Better Than Ping-Pong Tables and Free Food

Ping-pong tables are fun, all right, but they don't provide a lasting impact on employees' lives. But health and financial benefits do.
4 Employee Benefits Better Than Ping-Pong Tables and Free Food
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Ping-pong tables. Free snacks. Open floor plans. For years, these benefits have been highly sought after by employers and employees alike. But while fun, these perks have little impact on employees' lives.

Related: The 4 Tax-Exempt Benefits Your Employees Want Most

To stand out, employers need to offer more meaningful benefits. In fact, in a January 2017 Society for Human Resource Management survey, the 3,227 HR professionals polled indicated that 32 percent of their organizations were increasing the benefits they offer, to better compete for talent.

Fortunately, there are countless new employee benefits available. Thanks to the HR tech boom in recent years, employers can support nearly every important aspect of employees' lives.

Health concierge services

Even with health insurance, many employees still feel stress about their and their family members' health. They worry about unforeseen costs if they're injured. They debate whether a cold is bad enough to take time off to see a doctor. Not to mention the various health questions and concerns that pop up during their day-to-day. lives

This is where health concierge services come in. These are platforms that connect employees with healthcare resources.

For example, my company uses New York City-based Sherpaa. It allows my employees to ask doctors questions via a mobile platform. The doctor then provides the best course of action, whether that be a simple prescription or a recommendation to go to the nearest urgent care facility.

Toronto-based digital health and wellness platform League is another great option for health concierge services. League's own employees use the platform and have seen the positive effects the services have on their lives.

"[The platform] leads to time savings and reduces the stress of dealing with logistics to get to a primary care doctor," Michael Serbinis, founder and CEO, told me via email.

When researching health concierge services, focus on ease of use. Most people are unfamiliar with healthcare terms, so if an employee is unable to find the information he or she needs, or understand the provided resources, the benefit will have little value.

Credit card points

Most businesses have company credit cards. But New York-based brand communications agency INVNT has found a way to use the points earned on those cards to benefit employees.

According to co-founder and COO Kristina McCoobery, employees receive a company credit card. Any points that accumulate from their business purchases are theirs to redeem however they want. This provides employees with more financial freedom.

"We've had team members who have taken vacations, traveled home to see family members, purchased plasma screen TVs and bought clothes," McCoobery said in an email.

Looking to do something similar? Designate a space in the office where employees can share what they're saving points for. They can hang pictures of destinations they want to visit or items they want to buy. Then, they can track how close they are to reaching their goal. This will keep them motivated and remind them of how this benefit will pay off.

"Study abroad"

Traveling enriches people's lives, but it doesn't provide the same experience as actually living and working in another country. This is why some companies have created exchange programs like the one at marketing and PR firm MWWPR.

MWWPR employees apply for a chance to spend two weeks, all-expenses-paid, in any of the company's eight offices.

Related: How Tech Companies can Opt for Employee Benefits at their Fingertips

"Exchangers support local client teams in the market they're visiting and participate in social events outside the office," Gina Cherwin, executive vice president and chief people officer of the New York City office, said in an email.

Another company, San Francisco-based automated expense management platform Expensify, flies the entire company abroad once a year. The team then spends the next month working and exploring together.

Admittedly, these are big expenses for a small startup to take on. But there are ways to offer such perks on a smaller scale.

For instance, if an employee is going on a business trip out of state, see if anyone on the team has friends or family members in the area who would be willing to show the employee around town. The location might not be another country, but you can help provide the employee a better experience than sitting in a business class hotel room the entire trip.

Sleep assistance

A well-rested employee is a happy and productive employee. Unfortunately, many people struggle to consistently get a good night's sleep. In fact, a March 2016 CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,200 workers found that 58 percent of respondents didn't believe that they were getting enough sleep. Sixty-one percent said a lack of sleep even hurt their work.

This is why benefits that help employees get a good night's rest make a real difference. For example, San Francisco-based sleep aid app Nightly helps people deal with insomnia, nightmares and other sleep disorders.

"The analysis of the first 15,000 nights slept with Nightly indicates that the app reduced the incidence of nighttime awakenings in nearly half the cases, and the occurrence of bad dreams in 85 percent," co-founder and CEO Lukasz Mlodyszewski said on the company's website.

Related: Employee Demand Makes Voluntary Benefits Mandatory for Employers

Another affordable option might be creating a nap room in the office. Put a cot in an unused conference room, and allow employees to sign up for short cat naps during the week. This will give them a chance to rest their minds and return to their desks refreshed.

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