Two Employee Perks That Didn't Exist Five Years Ago

Julie Shenkman
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Competitive companies are always on the lookout for fresh, innovative ways to draw in the best candidates that the job market has to offer. Human resources departments are creating new employee benefits designed to complement the way people work and live in the hopes of creating a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

Pets at Work

The last century has seen pets become an increasingly important part of human life. Because they are proven to provide unrivaled companionship, stress relief and emotional support, they are now being cleared for more and more public places including airports and airplanes, hotels, and now the office. Major companies like Google, Etsy, Amazon, Clif Bar and Ben & Jerry's allow pets in the workplace as part of their employee benefits packages because they are proven stress-busters.

A 2012 study by Virginia Commonwealth University showed that having pets at work reduces the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone. The study, conducted at a North Carolina dinnerware company that allows pets, found that stress levels fell 11 percent in employees who brought pets to work. Workers are generally happier and more productive in the presence of pets, making this employee perk highly beneficial for both employee and company. Of course, the pets benefit too. Some companies provide perks for them in the form of doggie bags, treats, play area and designated drinking fountains.

Elder Care Benefits

The U.S. population is aging, leaving many workers in charge of primary caregiving duties for their parents. According to a study done by Towson University's National Alliance for Caregiving and Center for Productive Aging, 64 percent of workers who are caregivers arrive to work late or leave to take care of elders. Around 70 percent need days off to tend to these duties, and 81 percent take time during the workday to check in on or care for their loved one.

In response to these needs, more and more companies, especially larger ones, are providing elder care benefits, employee perks designed to help the worker take care of their parent. These benefits include resources and information on elder care, the ability to automatically set aside money from each paycheck for the purpose of elder care and providing respite care. Respite care is provided to the aged by another caregiver so that the primary caregiver can rest. Other employee perks related to elder care include flextime, paid time off and leaves of absence.

Employee perks are an important factor for many job seekers. Depending on the type and scope of their lifestyle needs, a person may view employee perks as the deciding factor in whether or not to accept a certain job. Companies are meeting the challenge by allowing pets, providing elder care and other employee perks designed to enhance employees' lives and promote a thriving, harmonious work environment.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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