Startups are synonymous with perks. From indoor ping-pong tables, cool real estate, to free lunches and kombucha, the benefits that they offer are appealing and attractive because they reflect our current lifestyle. The startup culture understands that a company’s success is directly tied to employees’ well-being.
While having a keg in the kitchen might seem cliché at this point, what’s truly innovational is the overarching way that a startup mentality complements the day to day life of its workers that makes them such a threat to traditional corporations.
Each has its own set of pluses: Virgin Hyperloop One, for example, brings a personal trainer onsite three days a week. At Legal Zoom, you get your birthday off, just because it’s your special day. It’s almost gotten to the point that startups are getting a little out of control in their ambition to offer the best/coolest/most unusual benefit. In New York City, one business was bringing in musicians twice a week for in-house performances.
The Benefits Worth More Than the Cool ‘Stuff’
But for all of the shimmer of a fully-stocked kitchen or cold brew coffee constantly on tap, there are bigger perks that offer greater value and contribute to a deep sense of peace and reduced stress:
1. Flexible hours
This by far is one of the most coveted perks. Life is unpredictable and messy, and the typical 9 to 5 workday is far too rigid for most people, and this creates an ongoing sense of stress. Allowing people to start and end their workday demonstrates trust in their accountability. Plus, an environment where you know you can put out unexpected fires, tend to essential family members, and take time for doctor appointments without worry is invaluable.
Companies that employ strict start times and disapprove of middle-of-the-day appointments might not realize that they are slowly but consistently chipping away at employee morale. Start-ups get that elasticity in this area is something that most people don’t ever want to give up once they get the taste of it.
2. Time Off
This ranges from working from home to unlimited or generous paid time off. As a whole, humans are recognizing that spending 40 hours a week in a chair is not healthy for the body or mind. But startups are nimble enough to offer this to employees from the get-go, whereas more established offices are having a hard time adapting to the kind of culture where time off is essential and expected.
People like having the convenience of working from their couch or even from a travel spot. Being in the office isn’t a requirement for productivity.
3. Parental leave
Like flexible time off, having the time to be with family after a birth or adoption is such a relief for both moms and dads. The first few months of parenthood – whether it’s the first kid or the fifth – are so chaotic that two parents sometimes aren’t even enough. There’s peace of mind for families when both caregivers can attend to the new demands of life and can support one another while being supported by their income. That’s priceless.
4. Education and student loan repayments
Sorry, grandma and grandpa: the 401(k)s and medical benefits you thought were gold standards of job perks aren’t as important to younger generations who are saddled with school debt. Startups who offer student loan debt repayment programs have their fingers on the pulse of what really matters to their employees. Whether it’s matching payments or providing monthly stipends earmarked specifically for student loans, the concept and practice is a welcome one.
5. 100% paid health benefits
Coughing up extra dough to cover hefty prescription prices, co-payments, and specialty needs like x-rays and procedures can really erode anyone’s sense of well-being. By eliminating this worry, employees feel safe and taken care of – it’s one less thing to nag at you.
It’s easy to retain top talent when perks like these continuously reinforce the message that employees are valued not just for their contribution to the company, but simply just for being. It can make working for anyone else seem pretty dismal.
The Tides of Work Culture Are Changing
The good news is that as startups flex their muscles, they are inspiring those traditional corporations to expand beyond the boundaries of their buttoned-up cultures. A more realistic workday across all industries can only continue to benefit us as a whole.