Employees: Now's the Time to Request Perks From Your Employer

With corporate hiring once again on the rise and competition for the best and brightest heating up, employees are well-positioned to ask for perks like flexible work schedules or tuition reimbursement.

A recent survey of human resources executives shows that employers are reintroducing perks they had cut during the recession in an effort to retain their best workers as the job market improves and competition for talent intensifies. 

The survey, conducted by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, shows that the vast majority of employers—a whopping 91 percent—are worried about losing their top talent to competitors

They should be concerned. Challenger notes that separate surveys confirm employees' interest in pursuing new job opportunities. A MetLife survey found that nearly 40 percent of employees hope to land a new job in the next 12 months, and a study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council found that 25 percent of top performing employees plan to leave their employers at some point this year. 

Because so many employers are so worried about losing their best and brightest, 18 percent of those polled said they have restored all of the perks they had eliminated during the recession. Nearly 41 percent had reinstated some of the perks they had cut, and 23 percent introduced some entirely new perks. 

So of the 91 percent of employers who are concerned about losing their best workers, 82 percent are taking concrete measures in the form of perks to retain them. 

The perks that respondents identified as most effective in retaining top talent are: 

  • Performance bonuses, ranked by nearly 80 percent of HR execs
  • 401K with employer contributions, ranked by approximately 70 percent
  • Vacation/personal time, ranked by 49 percent
  • Health/wellness programs, ranked by 43 percent
  • Flexible work schedules, ranked by 40 percent
  • Tuition reimbursement, ranked by 27 percent
  • Telecommuting, ranked by 24 percent 

Based on these survey findings, HR executives appear to be on the same wavelength as employees when it comes to the importance of monetary remuneration. John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm, stated in a press release that cash bonuses convey to employees that they are integral parts of the team and that their performance directly impacts the bottom line. 

The survey data also suggests that some HR executives appear to finally be getting hip to the degree to which employees value flexible work environments. One in four HR execs said offering employees the ability to telecommute has improved their companies' retention rates. According to the Challenger report, they like telecommuting as a perk because it doesn't cost them any money and in fact saves them money (which is why employees should not take pay cuts to telecommute). 

Another important point from Challenger: The CEO notes that while perks can certainly improve morale and boost employee job satisfaction, they aren't enough to keep the best workers on board. "Nice perks alone are not enough to instill worker loyalty," Challenger states in a press release. "…a company can't make up for mistreating employees with a free gym membership. But in companies where perks are an extension of a corporate culture that views its workers as partners or team members and not cogs in the machinery, employees are more likely to feel valued, engaged and happy." 

The bottom line for career-minded IT professionals: If you're a top performer in your company and you want to be rewarded for your hard work, now is the time to request some of these perks from your manager. After all, he or she is probably praying each night that you don't leave for another job opportunity.  

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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