9 Most Desired Employee Benefits and How They Work


The success of your company depends on the quality of your employees. Attracting and maintaining sought-after employees is an ongoing challenge for most employers. One of the best ways to help differentiate your workplace is to include some of the most desired employee benefits. These benefits should align with the needs and interests of your employees.

Studies show that benefits and company perks are a major factor in helping a job-seeker to decide if they will accept a position. In fact, some people consider desirable employee benefits as even more important than a bump in pay.

When managing the employee benefits for your team, you should include these nine most desired employee benefits into your program:

Benefit #1: Flexible hours

Flex hours have become one of the most desired employee benefits over the last decade, as people seek to improve their work-life balance. Whether someone hopes to start and end work early in order to avoid rush-hour traffic, or has another reason they need to work off-peak or variable hours, this benefit is highly valued by potential employees.

For parents, who often need to drop off or pick up children from school, or shuttle them between activities, flex hours can be a make-or-break benefit. If there is a demand, try your best to include flexible hours as one of your benefits packages.

Benefit #2: Paid vacation time

In Canada, provincial laws determine that an employee needs to have at least two weeks of paid vacation annually. Most provinces legislate that after completing five years of work with the same employer, they must be offered a minimum of three weeks of paid vacation annually.

With these low minimums, it is no surprise that employees highly value additional paid vacation time as one of their most desired benefits.

Benefit #3: Remote work options

Working from home offers several of the most desirable employee benefits. Beyond avoiding the hassle of a daily commute, an employee’s ability to work from home—whether full-time, part-time or ad-hoc—can increase their work-life balance and increase their engagement.

Benefit #4: Maternity & paternity leave

In Canada, a new mother can take paid maternity leave of up to 15 weeks and either parent can take up to 35 weeks of paternal leave after a baby is born or adopted. Depending on how long the employee has been working, new mothers can take up to 63 weeks of leave from their job, with a guarantee that they will have their job or an equivalent, when they return.

While this is a significant amount of time to be off, the government only covers partial payment to certain maximum. Employees highly value an employer who is willing to top up government programs while they are on maternity or paternity leave.

Benefit #5: Tuition & student loan assistance.

A growing number of employers are offering tuition and student loan perks to their overall benefit package. Companies can either help to subsidize tuition fees for certain areas of study, or they can offer general student loan assistance. Either way, this is one of the most desirable employee benefits, especially among those with a passion for higher learning.

Benefit #6: Free coffee & snacks

It may sound small, but complimentary treats can go a long way in making your employees feel valued. In employee surveys, respondents confirm that regular access to free goodies help them feel appreciated.

As an added benefit, when employees head to the kitchen for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, muffins, fruit or cookies, they are likely to chat with co-workers and perhaps build relationships that might not have otherwise happened.

Benefit #7: Gym memberships

An active employee is known to be more productive and generally happier, increasing their value to your team. While you may not be able to afford an on-site gym facility, consider offering a subsidized gym membership, a highly-valued employee benefit.

Benefit #8: Pet-friendly offices

While your office may not be able to accommodate this benefit, employees report strong appreciation for workplaces that allow pets. There are obvious pros and cons to having a pet-friendly policy. While the stress-relief of having dogs and cats nearby can be a benefit for most, it could be a significant drawback for your employees who are allergic to animals.

When considering your pet policy, you may need to make sure your HR department is up to speed and that you have proper policies in place for ensuring animals are properly vaccinated and free of parasites.

Benefit #9: Any benefits beyond the basics

While Canadians are covered for basic health care and some vision care, extended coverage is highly sought after. Not all medical tests or prescription drugs are covered by provincial or federal government programs, for example, and employees highly value extended coverage to take care of these common costs. Similarly, the Canadian government will pay for select vision and dental care, but the vast majority of expenses will fall on individuals. These are highly valued elements in an employee benefit package.

While it’s hard to please everyone, employee benefits have taken a front seat in a competitive job market. In order to attract and maintain the right talent for your team, it’s important to know what your employees truly value. We hope this list of the most desired employee benefits gets you thinking how you can give your company a competitive edge.