March 2019

6 Perks to Drive Employee Engagement

4 minute read

In today's rapidly changing workplace, making workers happy comes down to more than money. Study after study shows that today's employees place high value on organizational culture, purposeful work opportunities and feeling that their employer values their well-being.

As an employer, however, it's not always easy to identify ways to meet these needs. The answer? Presenting the benefits your employees most value. Doing so shows that you care about their well-being, which often leads to higher employee engagement, something global studies report results in a better customer experience.

Here's a quick look at a list of six perks that can help retain your valued employees.

1. Flexible hours

According to the Conference Board of Canada1, more than 85 percent of Canadian workers want the option for flexible work hours. This could mean an earlier start and finish time each day, or working longer shifts four days a week instead of a regular Monday to Friday 9-to-5 shift. It could even include telecommuting options to allow a work-from-home arrangement. Consider your business and how you could introduce flexible hours to your own team.

2. Paid volunteer time off

Paid volunteer time off (VTO) has become another important perk to Canadian workers. Offering VTO means giving your staff time off with pay to participate in community volunteer work. It benefits your staff member and the community, and is a great way to demonstrate corporate social responsibility. Not to mention the IPSOS Reid survey2, which reported that 68 percent of Canadians said they'd select a job with a company that maintains a "strong volunteer culture" over a company without one.

3. Corporate card with points for personal use

If you provide staff with a corporate credit card for business, consider a rewards card an inexpensive employee perk. Your employee can leverage the rewards that accumulate as the card gets used for business expenses*.

4. Personal and professional development

Another perk that's emerging as important to the modern workforce is the opportunity for professional development and training. Millennials, in particular, look forward to the chance for professional education and growth. Businesses can meet these needs by budgeting for training opportunities like online courses, onsite group training or mentorship programs within companies.

5. Complimentary food and beverages

Does your business lunch room include a stocked fridge and healthy snacks in addition to the coffee machine and water cooler? If not, now may be the time to invest in food as a workplace perk. A recent CNBC survey3 found the average American company spends between USD $3-$8 on snacks per employee per day as companies provide food to staff in the hopes of boosting productivity.

A well-stocked lunchroom may boost morale, keep employees focused on work and show your staff you care about their health and eating habits. Fresh fruit, granola bars or even light lunches, such as salads, soup and sandwiches, give your staff convenient and nutritious food options. Not to mention the fringe benefit of further strengthening workplace bonds by nourishing your employees via team lunches and off-site dining events. And depending on your business model, your Canadian company may qualify for tax breaks4 that reduce the cost of that complimentary food.

6. Fitness perks

Another relatively inexpensive perk to provide your staff involves fitness. With today's focus on self-care, wellness and overall well-being, savvy employers look for ways to show their staff their health is valued.

The best fitness perks for your team depend on your business, your staff demographics and your workspace. For example, a small shop might not have space for a fitness area on-site. Instead, offer a full or partial discount to a local gym, bike store or yoga studio. Install bike racks if your staff can ride to work. Or equip staff members with fitness trackers and walking shoes to encourage lunchtime walks.

One of the great things about the perks today's workers value most is that they don't have to be costly. Get creative and pay attention to your team to find out how you can best meet their needs. Doing so can result in perks for you as well—your workers will become more engaged, more productive and better positioned to help your company succeed.

American Express is proud to once again earn recognition as a Great Place to Work in 2019—for the fourth year in a row.

1 https://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=9614

2 https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/newly-released-canadian-data-confirms-companies-need-an-employee-volunteer-program-to-attract-and-retain-talent-631045993.html

3 https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/15/more-companies-offer-up-free-food-as-employment-perk.html

4 https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/payroll/benefits-allowances/subsidized-meals.html

* Note this employee perk could be considered a taxable benefit