With the holidays out of the way and the arduous process of insurance selection behind you, now is the time to focus on how you can make the most of the other perks you offer your employees for the new year. In 2016, fitness and fun are headline items for happy teams across the nation.

So, today we have rounded up over two dozen of the most buzz-worthy employee perks for employers to consider in 2016. These are perks that staff will love, but also perks that can help your teams work better together and improve productivity across your business.

Great game rooms

A well-stocked break room is a great asset to any workplace, but a game room allows you to take your employee engagement opportunities to the next level. Install a couple of amazing retro gaming machines, put in a foosball table or go with a selection of board games that can provide the mental break people might need.

To catapult your solo Asteroid machine into a game room of legendary employee perks status, be sure to include board and console games that can be played by individuals as well as groups of various sizes.

Better break rooms

Building a better break room means taking the time to understand what your staff expect to find there, then stocking it with the essentials and then boosting the impact of the space with touches of comfort and specialty treats that cater specifically to your company’s culture.

Think about everything from the lighting and furniture to the coffee and snacks available – how does each element enhance the overall atmosphere, what could make it better and how you can engage your staff in this space. If you feel like your firm is not maximizing the break room’s potential, discuss your ideas with a team of experts, like the people who work for your office coffee company.

Finest free coffee

Free office coffee is hardly a new idea. However, making sure that your staff have the best coffee available and can enjoy it whenever they desire is a new-school approach. Find a great office coffee vendor, sample their products and involve your staff in the beverages on offer.

Great office coffee has a ubiquitous quality and a long history among employee perks. It can bring people together from the farthest corners of your building, subtly sculpting their collaborative efforts and boosting productivity wherever its aroma lingers.

Fresh free healthy snacks

That stale basket of muffins your clients send over after the quarterly review is great and all, but to keep staff happy, healthy and engaged, you will want to go the extra mile where office snacks are concerned. Seek out great local products, fresh produce and give preference to healthy on-the-go snacks.

A great way to kick start your snack-based employee perks is by working with a top office coffee service – they often have an in with local grocers, bakers and other merchants who can provide the best of the best for your teams.

Physical wellness perks

Little speaks to how much you value your staff and their contribution to your company’s continued success as much as investing in their wellbeing. There are plenty of opportunities to promote physical health and wellness for your employees, both inside and outside the office.

Sponsored fitness classes

Discounted memberships or sponsored sessions with local gyms or fitness clubs are a great start. Consider popular options such as yoga, Pilates, crossfit and Barr­­e3 to attract both staff members who actively engage in regular fitness activities and those who may be interested in trying something new.

Fitness trackers

As wearable tech continues to become more affordable, fitness trackers are among the most popular gifts. Adding incentives to those who meet daily/weekly/monthly fitness goals is a great way to engage staff.

Active clubs to join

Start a running or walking club for early morning, lunchtimes or the evening. Similarly, a biking or hiking club can do wonders for offering staff from different departments to interact, improve their overall health and explore the local area outside your office.

Physical therapy, acupuncture, massages

Giving staff access to complementary treatments such as physical therapy, acupuncture or massage can help enhance their overall health, as well as providing a perk that many people may feel is an indulgence. Particularly if you have the facility to offer on-site treatments once a month, this is one of the hottest employee perks you can offer.

On-site fitness center

Having a free or sponsored membership to a local fitness club is great, but being able to get your daily workout without making an extra stop is a truly fantastic perk. Time and again studies show that employees who take an active break during the day are more productive during the afternoon hours – and happier in general.

Mental wellbeing

Encouraging staff to take regular breaks, keeping them hydrated and well nourished is a great way to look out for their mental wellness. You can push this employee perk further by including counseling and other mental health services in your company benefits package, but also by offering rewards for those who set simple goals for their mental wellbeing, such as overcoming a fear, learning breathing exercises to reduce stress or learning to “say no”.

Vacation incentives

Vacation time is great, and for many “more vacation days” is a top reason to choose one firm over another when evaluating job offers. But that vacation time is pointless if you never get to use it. There are a number of employee perks associated with vacation time, including:

  • Unlimited vacation days: offer unlimited vacation days, and allow staff to take time off as and when needed.
  • Holiday shutdown: give everyone the time between Christmas and New Year off to truly enjoy the holiday season.
  • Use incentives: encourage staff to use their vacation time by giving them additional holiday credits, providing vouchers for travel discount programs or other bonuses for actually taking the time off.
  • Cultural paybacks: encourage traveling and experiencing different cultures by offering bonus time off, vouchers or even cash to those employees who travel abroad.
  • Work away bonuses: offer staffers bonus money to facilitate working for a week from anywhere in the world.
    Paid maternity/paternity leave

As the legal standards for maternity and paternity leave continue to evolve, halo companies must keep their leave policies for new parents a step ahead. Offering paid time off beyond the “mandatory” leave period remains at the top of the list of employee perks for 2016. Parents who receive adequate time to bond with their new child and establish routines for day-to-day living are less stressed about returning to work.

Personal development

When it comes to exit interviews, a common reason given for changing jobs is a lack of personal development opportunity within the workplace. Keep your firm ahead of the curve here by encouraging your staff to devote time to their non-professional development goals.

Paid sabbatical leave

We have already discussed the benefits of having a good travel and vacation policy, but take this a step further by giving longer-term employees a paid sabbatical. This is a great way to encourage well-rounded skills and world views among your teams, but also gives people a clear impression of how the firm values their time and input.

“Do your own thing” time

Similar to offering paid sabbatical, have your staff hive off a portion of their work time each month to develop their own skills, do research or explore technologies they are interested in personally. More important than saying “use 10 percent of your time for personal development” is actually making sure that your teams manage their workload efficiently so that the time is available for people to use.

Offer free trainings

Offering onsite trainings that are open to all staff is another great way to foster a culture that encourages personal development. Trainings for company-specific skills are great, but offering more general trainings, language courses or engaging lectures can also be beneficial.

Company retreats

Think beyond the stuffy team-building seminars of the past, and set your sights on regular company outings to local theme parks or “fun center” type destinations. More than this, take over the happy hour at the local pub, offer short breaks to popular destinations for the whole firm or host less formal workshops on fun topics outside business hours.

Hold game-themed nights and activities for employees

Similarly, use the resource that your office space provides and host an in-house game night, coffee cupping evening or other themed events to bring people together.

The most difficult part of establishing a solid company culture is getting employees to engage together – by providing regular opportunities for people to gather without going out of their way, you facilitate their investment in one another and the workplace.

Freebies & discounts

One of the greatest assets your company has in the battle to keep employees happy may well be your own products. Offer employees exclusive versions of popular items, early purchase at severely discounted prices or simply a certain amount of completely free merchandise or company services annually.

Another great way to reward your teams is by working with your clients or other allied firms to offer discounts on popular services and products. Everything from TV subscription services like Netflix and discounted mobile phone plans to cutting-edge appliance brands can provide a valuable perk to your staff.

Discounted tickets and bookings

In a similar vein, offering staff access to your corporate booking codes for hotels and resorts can be invaluable – especially if you encourage your teams to travel.

Employee perks can sometimes benefit your bottom line, and when it comes to hotel booking codes that is definitely the case, as the more bookings you put through your code, the better your position to negotiate a renewed discount in the future. Similarly, offering your teams access to company seats for sports, theater or other events in your area is a great benefit.

Private concierge services

One of the best employee perks that we have come across in our search has to be personal concierge services. Some firms offer employees the dedicated help of a concierge to rustle up everything from tickets for the event of the year to a table at the city’s most amazing restaurant.

Everyone loves feeling like they have the inside track on things, so being able to provide your teams with access to a concierge service can be a huge boon. Plus, being able to make a simple request to a dedicated concierge will keep employees from spending hours hunting up the best tickets, show times, restaurant recommendations or other important things for their personal lives.

Luscious lunches

Giving employee perks that help people operate seamlessly is a huge benefit to you and your staff – a great free lunch ticks all the right boxes. Work with local vendors to establish a rotation of food trucks or other vendors who are interested in growing their own brand, and you may find that this perk is more affordable than it seems.

What’s more, by providing great quality, local food for lunch, you encourage staff to mingle together and enjoy an on-site meal rather than wandering off to spend money on fast food individually. This keeps lunch breaks shorter, allows employees to save a little money and builds cross-departmental collaboration in a subtle way.

Participation rewards

Encourage collaborative working, activity participation and even feedback by incentivizing staff with prizes. For example, encourage meeting attendance by doing a door prize drawing.

Or improve communication about the break room by giving tokens for completing a quarterly survey about the office coffee products and receive a nice new travel mug – those who complete all four in a given year can win a single-serve brewer for home use or a specialty coffee for their team’s coffee station.

The best employee perks underpin your corporate culture – by fostering a better collaborative atmosphere with open communication, you do just that.

Work/life balance

A number of the employee perks we have discussed involve helping your staff gain a firmer grip on their work/life balance. Make a point of stating that your company supports a healthy work/life balance, and be sure you promote the sort of workplace that allows people to take advantage of that flexibility.

Cramming a calendar full of deadlines, giving people limited resources with which to finish projects and failing to create clear escalation paths for projects can quash your effort before you even get started – so plan wisely.

In addition to making good workplace strategy plans, consider events that allow people to involve their family in the workplace. Father/daughter luncheons, bring your pet to work day, staff/partner field days and youth leadership events are great ways to foster better work/life balance.

PTO for family-related functions

Working parents often have to choose between catching their children making memories in the holiday music program and making a 2 p.m. meeting. This is stressful, and can lead to resentment among your teams – after all, will only be in the second grade once.

By offering your workers paid time off to attend school and other functions that are important to their families, you encourage them to keep perspective on the things that really matter.

On-site after school programs

Childcare is one of the most expensive things that parents in your workplace have to manage. Add to that the stress and concern that can come with having children transition from school to an after-school care program, and the benefit of having on-site after school programs available for your employees’ children is immediately obvious.

Offer day camps for specific skills, give staff the chance to lead students in homework tasks or fun craft projects and pat yourself on the back for providing one of the most useful employee perks of all: peace of mind.

Community-minded perks

Your employees are the public face of your firm in the area where your office rests – whether they are in “public-facing” roles or not. Giving your employees paid time off for community service projects is a great way to invest not only in their job satisfaction, but also your firm’s image as a good neighbor.

Offer paid time off, bonuses or other incentives to employees for helping out with a cause that is important to them – this could range from volunteering to man a booth for their child’s school fun fair to helping out with a reforestation project in the woods just outside of town. For employees who are truly dedicated to volunteer opportunities, create a recognition program or give useful (and relevant) gifts.

Flexible work spaces within the office

Everyone can benefit from a change of scenery now and then. Whether it is someone working on technical documentation who needs a quieter environment than the sales floor they find themselves working on or a creative person who needs to check their perspective on a design issue, being able to grab a laptop and hole up elsewhere can make a world of difference.

So, where appropriate, offer flexible work areas that people can dip in and out of as they desire. Sure, there are people who prefer to have their own turf and like things to be “just so”, but having some flexible tables available for anyone to work from can improve collaboration, communication and the general community vibe of your entire operation.

Welcome packs for new hires

New employees have a lot to handle – so why not welcome them with a quick collection of much-needed supplies and favorite local goodies. Include great snacks, a quick-reference guide for local eateries and even a crash-course in how to run the office coffee equipment.

Obviously, include branded goodies like a travel mug or an umbrella; but also consider unique gift items that speak to your company’s mission and culture. Bonus perk points for tailoring the basket with personal touches, relevant to the new hire in question – after all, it is easier to feel welcome when you feel understood.

For 2016, developing the asset that is your employees’ happiness and satisfaction will be a huge part of success for your business. Consider the different ways you can engage your teams – from simply providing quality coffee products and snacks to organizing outings to popular attractions in your area – and build your ideal employee perks package for the new year.

If you find yourself stumped for new ideas or lingering over possible solutions, reach out to the team of experts at Corporate Essentials­ – with close to 20 years in the office coffee business, our team has a plethora of insight as to what makes successful company cultures thrive.

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Joe Simonovich

About Joe Simonovich

Joe has a strong background in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The start to his career as a customer service representative has given him a unique foundation and different perspective on almost all business-related situations. Joe is now the Chief Growth Officer (and Director of Creating Awesomeness) at Corporate Essentials. He brings a unique skill set and a hands-on approach to any leadership role and believes that hustle is simply a way of life.