best employee benefits cover

Recruiting and retaining top talent is a major challenge for most employers.

Sure, pay is a major motivating factor. But top employers know compensation is more than just salary and bonuses. There are a number of benefits and perks that make some companies more enticing than others.

Here are the 20 best employee benefits and work perks for 2021 (in no particular order).

Financial and insurance benefits

While trends in employee benefits come and go, don't forget to offer what's tried and true. Giving your employees less to worry about at home can make them more productive at work. Here are the essential workplace benefits that help your employees protect their physical and financial wellness.

1. Retirement savings plan

This has become a must-have benefit for all private employers, as nearly all of today’s workforce will be responsible for funding their own retirement.

2. Match employee contributions

By having a vesting schedule for those employees matching funds up to a certain amount, employers can encourage workers to stay with the company longer.

3. Health insurance

Companies that want to attract and retain key talent must help them cover the growing cost of health care. Nowadays, employer-sponsored health insurance is a must, as is dental and vision insurance.

4. Group disability insurance

According to the Social Security Administration, about 25 percent of 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before reaching age 67. Short-term disability and long-term disability both replace some of the pay workers lose when they cannot work because of an injury or illness that is not related to their job. And both types of coverage can be made available through a group disability insurance plan, which employers may offer to of their employees at little to no cost.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 42 percent of private industry workers had access to short-term disability insurance plans offered by their employers in 2018. About 34 percent had access to employer-sponsored long-term disability plans.

While group disability insurance is nice to have, benefits are limited and coverage will be lost if you leave your employer. But individual disability insurance policies are portable and pay more in benefits. That's why an individual disability policy is a smart purchase, whether you have group coverage or not.

Looking for individual disability insurance? Get a free quote here!
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5. FSA and/or HSA

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are special accounts where employees can save money for future health care needs through payroll deduction. An added bonus is that all money they allocate to one of these accounts is deducted from their taxable income.

The main difference between the two is that an HSA can be used only if employees have a qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

HSAs have higher annual contribution limits than FSAs, and the funds roll over year to year if employees don’t spend them. They must, however, use their full allotted FSA money each year or surrender any unused funds.

[Related read: HSA vs. FSA: Which is better? ]

6. Student loan repayment assistance

One in five adult Americans carry student loan debt, so most businesses have employees dealing this financial issue. And the average monthly student loan payment ranges from $200 to $300.

There may come a time when the government helps students and graduates pay for their education. But in the meantime, this a worthwhile benefit workers, especially younger ones, will appreciate.

Quality of work

7. Flexible work arrangements

What’s more important: When, where, and how long an employee stays on the clock? Or the quality and timeliness of their work? Most are inclined to say the latter.

Many workers, especially younger ones, want the flexibility to work whenever and wherever they please. Giving employees the ability to work remotely from home, from other areas of the office beyond their desks, and during nontraditional hours is a perk they’ll appreciate and cost employers very little.

Professional development

One way companies can retain more of their top talent is to demonstrate their importance. This can be achieved by investing resources in their professional development.

People worth keeping want to improve their abilities, master new skills, and grow into other roles. Here are a few ways companies can provide value through training and continuing education.

8. Tuition reimbursement

For employees who want to earn a degree, take specific classes, or earn an industry license or certification, tuition reimbursement is a game-changer. Employers who offer tuition reimbursement will cover a specific amount of an employee's professional development expenses.

9. In-house seminars and workshops

Don't be afraid to mix it up every now and then. Encourage company executives and subject matter experts to present to internal teams that don't interface on a daily basis - or the company as a whole. Bringing in an outside guest speaker from time-to-time do wonders as well.

10. A formal mentorship program

Worried about new employees falling through the cracks? Implementing a formal mentorship program will help foster a forward-thinking, goal-oriented work environment. Connect new hires with experienced contributors at the company early and often.

Daily wellness

Companies can increase productivity by offering a few low-cost ways employees can get re-energized, including:

11. Free coffee

A simple, obvious way to save your employees time and money every morning. The little things really do make a big difference over time.

12. Healthy snacks

Eat good, feel good, work good. Of course, a kegerator is nice, and so is catering in lunch. But don't overlook the healthy options your people need to thrive.

13. Relaxation station

Whether this means some comfy chairs or a sea of nap pods, make sure there's a place for your people to recharge when needed.

Quality of life

14. Paid parental leave

Until domestic laws change that mandate paid family leave, giving new parents paid leave is one of the most coveted employee benefits. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 35 percent of employers offered paid maternity leave in 2018.

15. Volunteer time off

Many employees have a desire to get more involved in their communities, but may lack the time. Employers can make it easier by offering a few paid days off per year that employees can use to volunteer. According to SHRM, 22 percent of employers offer paid time for volunteering.

Companies that offer volunteer time off (VTO) demonstrate good corporate citizenship by promoting volunteerism. This benefit can also improve employees’ physical and mental health.

This is a benefit that appeals to workers of all ages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals between the ages of 35 and 54 are most likely to volunteer their time. Also, people under the age of 24 account for 22.6 percent of all volunteers.

16. Employee assistance program

In 2021, companies should strive to create a working environment that recognizes mental health issues.

Employers typically offer employee assistance program (EAP) resources at no cost to their employees. They can use EAP to seek outside counseling on personal problems, such as marital and family issues, substance abuse, financial troubles or mental health concerns.

It’s in every employer’s best interest to have this resource readily available to its employees. After all, these issues can quickly spill over into the workplace and adversely affect an employee’s performance if not dealt with.

17. Discount programs

Many employers partner with retailers and service providers to offer discounts to their employees. Common examples include savings on:

  • Wireless plans
  • Travel needs (hotels, rental cars, airlines, etc.)
  • Local attractions

Naturally, companies that sell consumer products or services should consider offering those at a discount to employees.

For the animal lovers

18. Pet-friendly office space

Some smaller companies indulge their employees by offering a pet-friendly workplace. While free-roaming cats and dogs may not be suitable for every workplace, there other ways to take care of your fluffy friends.

19. Offering pet insurance

Pet-owners know that trips to the vet can add up quickly. Group pet insurance can help employees cover the cost of caring for their pets. And it's actually more common than you might think.

20. Animal therapy sessions

Scheduling animal therapy sessions from time-to-time is another way to make sure your workplace has access to the mental health resources it needs. Just make sure any allergy-sensitive employees work from home that day, and it's a win-win for everyone.


Jack Wolstenholm is the head of content at Breeze.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Work-Life
Published November 21, 2019