It’s getting harder for companies to retain talent. Millennials tend to change jobs more than three times as often as their elders, according to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they stick with their employer for less than three years on average.
These odds make it more crucial than ever for companies to offer unique and valuable experiences that keep employees engaged and satisfied with their career choices. Some employers do it by offering meals and massages, but these perks are becoming more common – and less rooted in company missions.
“Free lunches, nap rooms, office skateboards, or a fridge packed with energy drinks does not create a great culture,” Chuck Longanecker, CEO and co-founder of digital-telepathy, a San Diego-based user-experience design company, writes in WeWork magazine. “Don’t get me wrong, perks are a fun way to connect with your team, but they lack the substance that bonds a company together in the long run.”
Some forward-thinking companies offer their employees benefits that strongly relate to their day-to-day work and the business’s core values. Not only are these opportunities unique, but they also help employees become better brand advocates. Take these examples.
Give employees time to volunteer
Outdoor apparel company Patagonia is a staunch supporter of environmental movements. It commits 1 percent of total sales or 10 percent of its profit, whichever is more, to environmental groups annually, and often runs environmental campaigns alongside product information in catalogs and advertisements. In alignment with its environmental activism, Patagonia gives employees up to two months of full-paid leave to work for the green nonprofit of their choice.
Enhance employees’ perspectives
LoadSpring Solutions, an enterprise software company, says that it values how people grow by experiencing other cultures. It offers employees who travel abroad for vacation up to $5,000 and an extra week off to expand their horizons.
Give them a taste of their own medicine
At travel rental company Airbnb, employees receive $2,000 a year to spend at the company’s property listings. While the benefit encourages employees to travel and experience the company’s offerings for themselves, it also gives them the perspective of their customers and ties them to the brand’s mission of “belong anywhere.”
Let employees live brand values
As the story goes, Fort Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing Company started with a young man who rode his bike through European villages famous for beer. Three decades later the company includes “producing world-class beers,” and “environmental stewardship” among its core values. After one year, employees receive a limited-edition cruiser bike. After five, they get a one-week trip to Belgium to expand their knowledge of the beer brewing culture from which the company originated.
How does your company align employee opportunities and brand values?