A woman prioritizing the benefits she offers to her employees.

Persuasive perks: A simple chart to help your business prioritize employee benefits

The job market has evolved far beyond boilerplate pensions and lifelong employees. Winning top talent today means distinguishing your business by providing benefits and perks that respond to fluctuating trends.

The winning combination is probably a mix of established ideas (such as the bedrock of company health insurance) and new ones shaped by the pandemic (more flexible schedules).

This simple chart organizes benefits into a hierarchy according to cost to the employer—as well as tiers within each price level to show which benefits tend to be more foundational. This may help you set or adjust your priorities for 2021.



Tier 1

Do employees feel fairly compensated for their work? Can they rely on you to help provide them quality health care and ample personal time now and access to retirement plan savings? These core benefits are the most persuasive in the job market.

Tier 2

Help employees customize their personal protection, medical care, and financial savings to better suit individual needs.


Tier 1

  • Food/meals for employees
  • Extra days off

Food and extra time tend to be the most popular extra perks a business owner can buy, because they’re the most universal. And they can be adapted to the pandemic—for instance, food trucks as a safer, more distant alternative to pizza boxes stacked in a stuffy conference room.

Tier 2

  • Flu shots/over-the-counter health care
  • Gym access/membership (including virtual workout options)
  • Discounts for tickets/retailers
  • Stipends for home office/work supplies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages employers to offer workplace flu vaccines—because it benefits the business as much as employees. Your local chamber of commerce or a similar civic group may be a conduit to good deals on discounts for events or retailers.


Tier 1

  • Flexible schedule/remote work
  • Pet insurance (voluntary)
  • Employee recognition tailored to a more scattered workforce

Flex time has become a core concern in 2020. And voluntary pet insurance already was booming, with an average annual growth rate of 22% the last five years.

Tier 2

  • Clothing theme days (T-shirt Tuesdays, etc.)
  • Bring-your-dog-to-work day
  • Office chili cook-off (post-pandemic)

Think in terms of a more imaginative “casual Fridays” updated for the 21st century. These more creative and frivolous perks may boost morale or encourage teambuilding but can’t be the primary drivers of recruitment and retention.

Next steps

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