How to Retain Employees With Perks They Actually Want

How to Retain Employees With Perks They Actually Want

John Eades 12/05/2023
How to Retain Employees With Perks They Actually Want

You can only lead with people. Unfortunately, many bad leaders forget this simple truth.

Instead of constantly evaluating ways to retain and keep high-performing team members, they blame, complain, and act as if providing people a place to work and make a living is enough to treat people poorly. 

While no great leader or organization would advocate this as a sustainable approach, increasing mass layoffs and tightening budgets have contributed to this thinking. However, bad leaders must remember that there will always be a place for talented professionals with excellent skills, adaptable thinking, and incredible work ethic. Retaining employees like this is vital to long-term success.  

Retaining talented professionals with excellent skills, adaptable thinking, and an incredible work ethic is vital to long-term success. 

While no company or leader is perfect, many companies go above and beyond to retain their high-performing and culture-building team members. They do this because it's the right thing to do and because they understand the business impact of employee turnover and retention.  

Retention Has a Business Impact

On average, employee turnover costs organizations 1.5 X a year's salary once they have been in the organization for over three years. A Google study found that the average employee that turns over within one year costs about $50,000. If that wasn't enough, the national average of the cost to hire an employee is $4,129. 

Most leaders and organizations grasp these eye-popping statistics, so they offer "perks of the job." To ensure we are on the same page, a perk is something extra you get, in addition to a salary, in exchange for working. 

A perk is something extra you get, in addition to a salary, in exchange for working.

Some organizations and leaders try to retain employees with perks that don't matter. Things like ping-pong tables, virtual cocktail parties, Starbucks gift cards, or elaborate office spaces. While these are good perks, there is little to no evidence it does anything to retain employees.  

If you are ready to make retention a priority for your team or organization, here are the perks you should be thinking about that employees actually want:


1. Purpose

Surprisingly, the number one perk isn't additional bonus money. One of the most essential leadership principles in Building the Best is; People persevere because of purpose, not pay. 

People persevere because of purpose, not pay. 

People give their best effort when they are on a team that shares values and purpose. A consistent and methodical approach to communicating the deeper purpose behind the work that is done is imperative. This is a perk because most leaders and organizations don't do it.  

2. Bonuses

Not far behind purpose are bonuses and additional compensation for going above and beyond. Look no further than MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen, who told employees in a viral video to stop asking whether they were going to receive their bonuses. Compensation matters, and to act like it doesn't would be a disservice.  

Creating individual bonuses or compensation plans for successful financial months, quarters, and years is a fantastic way to retain people and demonstrate that you care. This is an incredibly effective perk when it's a surprise.  

3. Flexibility

The Pandemic changed many things about us, but maybe nothing more than the desire for flexibility. While there is a big push for the return to the office (which is fine), providing flexibility for outstanding work-life balance is essential today. 

Whether you or your company will ever adopt a 4-day workweek, the key is to provide flexibility around energy and attention. Create a culture that encourages people to be flexible to work where and when they work best. To pick up kids from school or to get exercise. 

While there isn't a one size fits all approach to flexibility, the key is that you aren't locked into pre-pandemic thinking with how you lead your team. 

4. Coaching and Development 

A perk that has become even more important today than ever is providing employees with professional coaching and development opportunities. Unfortunately, most professionals aren't willing to invest in themselves (which is a travesty.) So the leaders and organizations who provide expert coaching and development opportunities stand out significantly. 

When employers create experiences for their employees that delight, challenge their thinking, and encourage them to live better lives, it creates a deep connection.  

If that weren't enough, when you create a culture of learning and development, it equips your team to perform well today and be in a great position to perform well in the future.

5. Recognition

Last but certainly not least, the perk that matters is providing recognition. However, most managers and leaders don't recognize the short-term benefit or long-term impact recognition has on their team members. Because of this, they aren't doing enough of it. A study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they'd feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly. If that weren't important enough, 63% of employees who feel recognized are unlikely to look for another job. Another study shows that those who rarely receive recognition think their manager does not trust them.

There isn't a better way to say this, recognition increases employee engagement and renews team members' commitment to their work. 

Recognition increases employee engagement and renews team members' commitment to their work. 

Create an award or find creative ways to recognize employees publicly or privately. It works, and it matters. 


There is no denying that you can't lead without people. Now more than ever, it's time to turn up the activities to demonstrate to your employees that they matter by providing perks that they actually care about.  

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on, LinkedIn Pulse,,, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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