News and Insights / Employer Insights

The Top 5 Benefits Employees Actually Want

Ping Pong Table

Healthcare, 401(k)s, and flexible schedules - these are the things that really matter


Company benefits seem to have taken a strange turn into wellness programs, daily catered lunches with the thinly-veiled purpose of keeping you in the office during your lunch break, and a glaring lack of retirement options.

As a result, job seekers have opened the conversation into their wants and needs. The people have spoken: yes, ping pong tables are nice, but not if they’re the only benefit of working at your company. The benefits employees actually want are the ones with substance – the ones that help them, either financially or by saving them time and toil.

*We feel the need to point out that obviously, your experience may vary. Companies may not be able to afford all the benefits listed below, their health plans may not be the cheapest, etc… This list is intended to be used as a guide for companies who are looking to implement new benefits, but aren’t necessarily sure what employees will find the most helpful. No ping pong table required.

The Standard Stuff

Running MenHealth, dental, and vision coverage never go out of style – especially with the added benefit some employers give: paying a portion of the employee’s cost. With health insurance premiums dramatically increasing over the past decade, employer assistance to cover these costs does not go unnoticed.

Family coverage can easily reach the heights of $700 per month, so employer-covered healthcare remains one of the most highly-coveted benefits currently available.

Another nice standard benefit is life insurance. You just never know what could happen, and having a safety net for your beneficiary is great. Plus, life insurance is an inexpensive benefit to add – so if your company can swing it, please do. It’s truly helpful.

Retirement Accounts

401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions (they still exist, and you’d be surprised which big companies offer them!) are more important than ever. Considering 66% of millennials have nothing saved for retirement, a 401(k) with company match can be a great incentive to join a company – and to start saving. Being that most professional workers spend 40 hours per week investing in their company’s future, shouldn’t the company invest in theirs?

Flexible Schedules

Life happens. It just does. Thankfully, more and more companies understand this fact and are offering flexible schedules that better work with someone’s family, school schedule, or long commute. Indeed, gone are the days of 9 to 5! We welcome the new era of 8:30 to 4:30 or 11 to 7.

Employees are individual people with different things going on. Employers who recognize that a small shift in hours can make a huge difference in making someone’s life easier, and who welcome the opportunity, are amazing.

Remote Work

Working From HomeOn par with flexible schedules, a good chunk of companies now offer remote work options – whether full remote, one day per week, or somewhere in the middle. It may not seem like much, but even just one day where you can avoid traffic, sleep in, wear what you want, and listen to music without being tethered to headphones can improve employee morale quite a bit.

Are you worried about employee productivity while working remote? We understand it’s a concern, but it really shouldn’t be – as proven by study after study after study. Take a few minutes to Google “remote worker productivity” if you need some proof. You’ll find the same results: people are more productive at home. With less distractions of water cooler chat, loud coworkers, and meetings, remote workers are able to stay in a state of flow and effectively produce more work.

An added benefit is the ability to funnel communications into fewer channels (usually either email or chat). This allows employees to avoid interruptions by responding when they’re done with a task, instead of needing to answer immediately when someone is standing in front of them.

Edited on 7/10/2020: With current world events, many companies have been forced to work completely remotely, finding once and for all that yes, remote work is indeed possible without downturns in productivity. In fact, some companies have announced they are permanently switching to fully-remote after seeing how well it has worked. Further, The Journal of Public Economics released a report in their September 2020 edition stating that 37% of jobs in the United States can be performed entirely at home. It's a fascinating report and we recommend giving a read, especially if you're curious about the future of work. 

Unlimited PTO

Many startups and innovative companies are implementing unlimited paid time off policies in order to attract top talent – as this is, indeed, a benefit that top talent looks for. Since it’s expected of most workers to be available outside of the confines of their working hours, it should also be expected that employees get more time off to compensate. Stress and burnout both threaten workers constantly, and consistent breaks and vacations are a good way to keep them at bay.

We understand it might seem risky to offer unlimited paid time off, but please know most employees don’t abuse it. We’ve seen it work quite well at companies of varying sizes. In fact, most companies that offer unlimited PTO still require employees to request the time off and receive approval. This ensures an employee doesn’t leave in the middle of a big deadline, and that their workload is covered in their absence.

Honorable Mention: Cultural Ancillary Benefits

Ping pong tables, arcade machines, standing desks, bean bags, company-paid events, free drinks and snacks – oh my!

Arcade Scores

These fun perks are more on the cultural side of the company – they aren’t true benefits in and of themselves. However, if you have a good list of true benefits and add these fun cultural perks on top of them, it can definitely steer good candidates your way instead of into your competitor’s arms. Plus, they are usually relatively inexpensive to implement.

A quick note on the company-paid events part: we’re talking sending employees to non-company-sponsored events. Family picnics aren’t something everyone will enjoy – so take some time to send smaller groups of people to cool local events like an Octoberfest or dinner at a restaurant. These are great opportunities to help coworkers bond and work better together. Don’t underestimate the impact of a positive work culture.


Have you implemented any of the above benefits for your employees? How did it go? Let us know – we want to hear from you!


About System One

System One delivers specialized workforce solutions and integrated services. We help clients get work done more efficiently and economically, without compromising quality. For more than 35 years, we’ve built our reputation on exceptional talent, flexible delivery, and full accountability. System One’s national network spans energy, engineering, IT, commercial, scientific & clinical, legal, marketing, and beyond. System One is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

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