Great work benefits you've had, or heard of?

I’m working on an episode about benefits as part of employee retention, and I’m curious about great benefits you’ve heard of. There’s the obvious, of course - retirement, PTO, health/vision/dental, but what other benefits have you seen or had?

Here are some I have seen:

  • Profit sharing bonuses
  • Additional coverage outside of health insurance for fertility, trans health care, or adoption fees
  • Floating “birthday day off” as extra PTO day
  • YNAB: “We do birthdays really well. Personal notes from everyone on the team and a gift. Not a gift card, a gift just for you. We have everyone fill out a bucket list when they first come on, and that kind of helps us get to know new folks a little bit better and give more personal gifts.”
  • Minimum vacation time policies (you must take 3 weeks a year/etc)
  • Remote work full-time or part time
  • Paid 6-month sabbatical after 4 years
  • Remote work stipend for buying desks/equipment for home
  • Paid parental leave (in the US) - including paternity leave, esp those you can take part-time
  • Full time pay for 32-hour week for a year for returning new parents
  • College degree paid for - starbucks

I’m also curious if you’ve been in a situation where you stayed because of benefits - or LEFT because of lack of benefits. I’ve been in numerous situations where I have had to leave jobs I love because there was no health insurance coverage, or no sick days.

Thanks for your ideas!


H is struggling with this right now because his work is not doing as well as they could on this but continuing education funds and corresponding time off. He’s in a residency that has cost us 4-5 figures per year for the last 2 years but his company only pays $1,500 annually in con ed. With no time off for classes that are required and take place during working hours.

ETA: they get away with this because what they offer is considered good for his industry.

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My job sometimes drives me mad, but there are some really really great things about it:

  • My company has quarterly profit sharing bonuses. The bonus pool isn’t always funded, but when it is, it’s very nice to have!
  • We have a thing that let us put pre-tax money towards transit and parking, which is small savings but handy; that’s how I pay for my Clipper card.
  • Technically my company has unlimited PTO. Not everyone actually takes advantage of that, but I try to make sure I take at least 15 days every year. :wink: Next year I may actually lean in and try to take more! (ETA: I think this is the opposite of what people mean when they say “lean in,” hahahahahaha.)
  • We have pretty free remote work capabilities. That is a SERIOUS benefit. Not only do I not have to commute in every day, but it makes travel way easier – I can go places without taking PTO the whole time.
  • ETA: My company pays a set amount each month towards my phone, because they don’t issue phones but they require us to have one for two-factor auth and some other work things.

I left contracting work because I wanted to have not just stable employment, but stable health insurance and PTO.

I used to contract at Famous Tech MegaCorp and know a lot of folks who’ve been FTEs there. The bennies there are nuts – from free/discount admission to tons of local museums to thousands per year in continuing education funds to incredibly generous death benefits that pay some ridiculous multiples of the employee’s salary to the surviving family.

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Things I’ve heard of:
Infertility coverage and adoption money assistance
Paid paternity leave
Catered meals/baristas/food bars/subsidized cafeterias
Technology allowance. Lets you get what YOU think you need for your role vs dealing with issued laptops/phones/etc.
Home internet reimbursement
Health benefits/subsidies- paying for your gym and so on.

I of course don’t even have health insurance through my work, so these are very theoretical to me :joy: and just show that I have family and friends in better industries than me…

Eta: work from home is a huge benefit. Reducing travel and having a lot of work from home was one of the main reasons for switching my husband’s job earlier this year.

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I’ve heard of company match up to a certain amount for student loan payments. In theory the employees could get matched in 401k and also their student loans.

A different take on a normal benefit - automatic 401k payments up to the company match instead of having the default amount be zero and the employee has extra paperwork to fill out to opt into it. I’m sure the employee still has to approve the money being routed to the 401k instead of their bank with the rest of their paycheck, but if it’s part of the normal onboarding paperwork it’s much more likely to happen than the other way around. This could be really helpful for new grads who aren’t thinking about retirement yet.


Two that I think haven’t been mentioned. Small, but meaningful:

Exercise time during the workday. We could take up to 3h per week (1 h per day/ 3 days per week) during the day to exercise (there was a gym in the building, but it was not free :frowning: ), charged as administrative time. It could be combined with lunch, since 1h may not be enough for a workout/shower/etc., but not tacked on to the start or end of the workday. That is, you couldn’t show up late and claim to have been exercising. I used it to make my lunchtime walks longer.

Transit subsidy. Not just the pre-tax benefit listed above, but an actual subsidy, up to a set amount each month. The caveat was you couldn’t get the subsidy if you had a parking pass. It was one or the other.

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My old job for a time had fertility treatment assistance up to 50k, but they seemed to have very quietly gotten rid of that the year before I left. They allowed a sabbatical after 9 years as well, but I knew that was very likely a benefit I would not be around for long enough to get. Finally, they allowed 6 months unpaid leave after the birth of a child, but with the caveat that they couldn’t 100% ensure your job afterwards.

Current job has unlimited sick leave, profit sharing, and as much vacation as previous job. Honestly part of the reason I took the job was because I’m sick often enough where even with generous vacation at former job, I was rarely taking real vacation because I had to spend it on time out sick.

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^ benefits I had at ex-employer before I left

Paid time allowances for volunteering (usually with a charity, but may be broader, like volunteering at a school).
^Matching for charitable donations
Paid for cab ( transit home if worked late (typically in big city and/or firm like a law firm)
^Free stop smoking support (nicotine gum, patches, and the like).
^On-site gyms (reduced fee or free)
^On-site massages (reduced fee)
^Very liberal definition of “work day”+ (for salaried people) - didn’t have to take time-off for doctor appointments, being late due to snow storm, leaving early, etc. AKA treated like a responsible adult to manage and complete your work. Of course lots of “overtime” at times too (probably more than what time was taken off). I typically didn’t even need to notify anyone - though of course you would if you had a meeting you would be late for due to emergency.
+the official policy was that if you worked 4 hours that counted as a full day and you didn’t need to use PTO or vacation time.
^ Bonuses: FT hourly got profit sharing if they were working the whole year; all salaried got a bonus based on a formula for your pay-band based on company and personal performance metrics. Each element could have a multiplier up to 2X.

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This is ballin’.


Some of the things my big international NGO offered:

5% contribution to retirement account after 1 year of employment; 7.5% after 5 years; 10% after 10 years – all of this was contributed REGARDLESS of whether you put anything in yourself.

Student loan repayment of I think 5k/year (never used this as we didn’t have loans, but it helped to offset lower salaries for recent college grads).

Excellent health insurance for expats at very low personal contribution – I think I was paying something like $100/month for coverage for my family with a $500 annual family deductible ($250 individual) and max $1000/1500 individual and family OOP. Employer contribution was over $1000/month.

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Flex work hours are a big one, and there are lots of options within that.

Summer Fridays at one job were awesome.

Also, one place I worked offered a thing where every 5 years you got a bonus vacation package that you could take all at once (2 months, straight) with pay, on top of regular paid vacation. That was a huuuuge reason a lot of people stayed.


I should have taken advantage of this so much more than I did. I didn’t even learn about it until well into my tenure.

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This reminds me, having an HR department that made sure employees knew about, and knew how to take advantage of all the benefits offered. One place I worked had a decent HR staff and they worked hard to make sure that every employee was taking advantage of all the benefits which was nice.


Ex-employer has been cutting and gutting HR staff for years. It is very sad. Before I left I got connected with someone who used to be in HR to get advice on how to maximize benefits received in the year I retired. I didn’t learn too much, but was so glad I did this and thankful the person took the time to help me.


I’m staying for the pension. Maybe that’s included in your main list, like health insurance, but it’s my number one thing. Do I want to teach until I’m 65? Not really. Do I want my full PERS benefits? Yes, very much yes.


My husband works for a grocery store and has really good benefits for a retail job:

  • 401k match up to 3% (honestly just having access to a 401k in a retail job is good)
  • Health/dental/vision
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Coupons for free grocery items with more around holidays; the cutest one is a free cake on his birthday

Oh yeah, things like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offering discounts to employees is a good one too.


Yep! In Boston, J. worked for the one of those owned by Amazon :wink:, and he got a 20% discount, which made shopping there much more reasonable. They also had an employee appreciation week where they got a ton of coupons with very good discounts on things you’d actually buy.


New to me is a bi-weekly chair massage that you can sign up for at $1/minute with a five minute minimum.


Oh a common one in restaurants is a free meal during your shift and a free shift drink. We were always allowed a glass of any beer or wine on the menu after our shift.