If You Could Pick Your Benefits At Work, What Would You Pick?

Although in this economy, you might not have a choice – and you might be lucky to get a lollipop on your way back to your cubicle. But if you could pick, and/or if you are in the position as a business owner, than hopefully this post will garner a little bit of a discussion about benefits at work. I have worked for companies that provided 100% of my health care, free gym memberships and dry cleaning, unlimited days off (as long as it wasn’t abused), etc. – and I have worked for companies that didn’t provide anything at all other than a paycheck. And now I am self-employed so I have to create whatever perks I want, which is the way I would want it over anything a corporate gig could offer me. But since most people do in-fact work corporate jobs, let’s first take a look at a company well known for their incredible work/life perks: Google.

Google offers some amazing things to their employees, depending on which campus you work at:

  • Gourmet lunches
  • Use of plug-in Prius’ to run errands during the day
  • Free on-site massages and doctor visits
  • Gym memberships
  • Game rooms
  • Quiet rooms for taking breaks
  • Dogs are ok to bring to work
  • Pools
  • Free shuttle service to and from work
  • Hair salons
  • Child care

…and the list goes on. This is a company that fully understands the concept of “take care of your employees and they will take care of you”. And while I realize that not every company can afford to do this for their employees, and neither can every eligible worker get a job at Google, but every company could use to take a look at what works for Google and try to implement at least a few perks for their people. A few benefits can go a long way towards making your employees happy, and if I could choose, here is what I would pick:

  • Paid health insurance.
  • Flex-time for working at least 1 day a week from home.
  • Paid 2 or 3 week vacation (Every other major country on earth gets about a months paid vacation. We are lucky to get 2 weeks at best.)
  • A matching 401K would be nice, but not a requirement. I don’t have it now, and I still am saving for retirement.
  • Time off for volunteer work, separate from vacation and/or sick time. I think encouraging employees to volunteer helps morale and gets people to care about things other than work.
  • Mandatory, scheduled reviews. Too many people toil away at jobs, without reviews/rewards/raises, because they are afraid to ask or the company doesn’t think it’s necessary.

So, those would be my first picks if I were to do corporate work again…what would be yours? If you could design your perfect benefits package, what would it include? In reality, I already have my perfect benefits package – I work for myself, from home, on my own time. I couldn’t really ask for much more right now. But what would you ask for if you could?

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Comments (14)

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  1. Melissa says:

    The volunteering time off is a benefit offered by my company. We are encouraged to join a mentoring program with a local school district and spend roughly an hour and a half per week with an assigned student. It has been an incredibly rewarding benefit.

  2. If I could choose whatever benefits I wanted, I would want paid health insurance, including dental, vision, and prescription coverage. I would also want a matching 401K, a 3 week vacation, and tuition assistance. Actually, since I am going to be a teacher, I just want my vacations to be paid : )

  3. Craig says:

    The perks you picked are those I would pick and most people would as well. Obviously health insurance is #1. But I think people in general would love the ability to work 1 day from home and have more vacation time. Need to have a work life balance that exists everywhere else in the world, but not true in America.

  4. Enrique S says:

    If I could pick my benefits, I’d choose paid health & dental coverage, a telecommuting option, matching 401k, and free shuttle service. I could do without the gourmet lunches and massages.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Having worked outside the home for over 30 years, I have found the desired perks to be very much related to my life status. When I was young and single, vacation time and a liveable wage were the important items – and probably in that order!
    As a single parent, wages and insurance affordability became the priorities.
    As a married, older, empty nester I am still concerned with good wages and affordable insurance, but a good, matching retirement program has been high on my list for quite some time.
    I am pleased to see that more employers have become “family friendly” and more flexible in recent years.
    I also am thrilled that my daughters are afforded opportunities today that I could barely dream about when I was young, and the future is wide open for the grandchildren!

  6. Sharon W says:

    Health benefits would be at the top of my list, paid medical, dental and vision with a RX plan that may require a co-pay within reason. Also with health benefits continued as part of any retirement plan. Health care hits hardest on retirees who are on a fixed income more or less. Matching 401K, either telecommunting option or if work requires you to be on site then a flex shift option so you could avoid heavy commute times. On-site day care (not necessarily company paid) would take a large burden off of parents to find adequate care for their children leaving their mind free to concentrate on work. Regular job reviews and proformance based pay raises.

  7. Debbie M says:

    I really like the benefits at my job, in this order:

    1. Fairly low-stress forty-hour work weeks. The rare overtime is time and a half.
    2. Free health insurance for me
    2. Pension fund
    3. Lots of vacation and holiday time (now that I’ve been there)
    4. Awesome gigantic university library
    5. Paid professional development
    6. Birthday parties. With cake and other treats (even if they are potluck)

    Other perks I’d like are free onsite gym, telecommuting, paid volunteer time.

    Other perks I don’t personally care about but that are awesome for some people:
    1. Onsite day care
    2. Free or cheap insurance for dependents/family
    3. Free parking

  8. David says:

    Wow, great benefits!

  9. Jim says:

    This is an interesting topic. Seeing that I have worked in higher ed for most of my “adult” life, it’s interesting to see a mix of business and education employees here. I would list my requirements based on what I have now, while mixed with a higher wage.

    1. Paid health insurance with a low deductible and low copays on prescription and office visits.
    2. Minimum 2 weeks/year vacation time. (I earn 2.5 weeks/year with a max of 42 days.)
    3. Unlimited sick time (I know several people who have this and it is not abused at all. At the University that employs me, we earn 16 days per year.) I end up donating to the crisis leave once per semester.
    4. Paid tuition – This is a huge perk. I can take classes toward a degree or just for “fun” at zero cost to me, and 50% off for spouse/children.
    5. Access to fitness resources – A huge advantage of being on campus.
    6. Ability to work from home when necessary – This is not a University-wide option as some people obviously need to be there to serve students, faculty and staff.
    7. Free parking – This is one of the few things that upset me. We are a rural campus, and people still pay around $17/month to park. Compared to urban areas this is a pittance, but I dropped it and park 1 block from campus for free.
    8. Free professional development/training – Though I would like to see much more of this, it is available.

    Other niceties would be a matched 401K or matching charitable donations, which my Univ. does not do. We have options for various investments, but it’s a hassle and I’ve never been fond of the local investment providers. Also nice would be benefits for commuters (like myself.) Perhaps a free parking pass for those who commute, though this would be a pain to regulate.

    Overall, I’m very happy because my department gives me a great deal of latitude since I have a 1 year old son and live 30 miles away. Could the pay be better? Absolutley, but I can get time off when I need it and the only pressure upon my return is that which I heap upon myself!

  10. rambkowalczyk says:

    I agree with your above list of suggestions.
    As far as health plans go, I don’t really care if routine dental or eye care isn’t covered. It seems as though that the amount of premium charged is about the same as the medical expenses. If the job pays a livable wage then I can live with out that added insurance.

    A benefit that is more important to me would be ability to take time off without a hassle. –dr appointment for kids, the occasional I have to stay at home to wait for the plumber, delivery etc.

    Also the ability to make some personal phone calls at work. I think most companies are reasonable about this as they realize that not all things can be done in off hours.

    Really all workers want is to be treated like professional adults.

  11. Laura in Atalnta says:

    Free parking, free parking, free parking. Without a doubt, free parking.

  12. Tina says:

    What would I like?

    1. Fully paid benefits like I used to have, though I am content with the company I work for paying part.

    2. I would love to have 3 weeks vacation-I have two weeks vacation and 4 hours a month of sick time I accrue maximum of 48 hours allowed.(Though by combining over weekends I will be off for 17 days straight and paid for every one of them.)

    3. The company has a program to help employees that fall on hard time ie.. fire, loss of income, medical bills. They will do outright $10,000 grant or will do a matching program for every $1.00 given at my level by other associates they will give either $1.00 or $2.00 I don’t remember which.

    4. I would love to have discounts where I work. That I don’t have.

    5. For those that need it there is access to have part of your patches paid for to quit smoking.. and other programs such as weight loss.

    I miss the 40% off I used to get when I worked in the Victoria Secret Corporate office in Ohio, and the great cafeteria that they had.

  13. Slinky says:

    Honestly, the biggest things to me are flexibility. Setting my own hours and easily taking off or coming in late if something comes up. Vacation/holiday time is a must. I would love to be able to work at home whenever I wanted. Casual dress codes are nice. And I’d LOVE to be able to set up a cube/office however I wanted. What I wouldn’t give to not have my back to the aisle!!

  14. Kyle says:

    Amen on the mandatory reviews. The company I’m with now doesn’t give reviews (or COL raises for that matter), so turnover is huge. I can guarantee 50% of the employees will be out the door as soon as the job market improves.