Your team is only a successful, well-oiled machine if your employees are properly fueled for efficiency. So what does fueling a high-performing and diverse team look like — outside of compensation? 

When employees feel valued and included, they’re more successful at their jobs. A 2019 study from BetterUp revealed that when employees feel a strong sense of belonging in the workplace, it leads to a 56% increase in job performance, 50% reduction in turnover, and 75% decrease in employee sick days. For large and small businesses alike, cultivating an inclusive work environment means supporting employees who represent various age groups, demographics, work environments (remote and in-person), and more. 

Offering employee perks that cater to a diverse team is essential to building strong, company-wide relationships grounded in mutual respect and appreciation. Diversity in the workplace can include generational, racial, political, religious, and socioeconomic differences, as well as differences in sexual orientation, gender identity, and parenting status. As companies grow increasingly diverse, in every sense of the word, it’s important that employee perks reflect a wide range of changing needs and wants. 

While many employee perks programs are well-intentioned, they often miss the mark on what employees actually enjoy. For example, meditation sessions or gym memberships are popular inclusions in perks programs because research shows that physical activity and meditation can reduce stress and improve concentration. In an effort to support employees’ mental and physical wellness, many companies offer access to meditation apps, online workout programs, gym memberships, and more. But it turns out this expense may not be benefiting employees as much as employers might think. 

In reality, many employees don’t participate in meditation considering it mostly appeals to people ages 45 to 64. What’s more, 4 out of 5 Americans don’t exercise enough and 1 out of 4 don’t exercise at all. Though a free workout class or gym membership could help employees reduce stress, many members of the workforce can’t find time to exercise and may be charged for cancellation fees when a work-related deadline arises. This begs the question: How can businesses ensure that perks don’t go underutilized and that everyone is actually enjoying them? 

Consider these 8 tips for building an inclusive employee perks program—and keep your unique, dynamic team fueled for excellence. 

1. Annual learning stipends

Successful businesses attract lifelong learners who are hungry for personal and professional development. Everyone can benefit from leveling up, fine-tuning their skills, or digesting something new — so why not invest in furthering your employees’ education? 

Annual learning stipends can help pay for online courses, accelerated certificate programs, boot camps, university programs, webinars, library resources, database accessibility, and more. By investing in employee education, you reinforce an inclusive company atmosphere that values individual growth. Employees in different departments or roles can seek opportunities that help them in their area of expertise. This perk might entail an upfront contribution or reimbursement at the end of the year. 

For remote and in-person employees alike, online learning is a convenient opportunity for continued education. If your team subscribes to DashPass for Work, for example, employees have unlimited access to a library of health and wellness webinars developed by registered dietitians. Employees can learn how to order healthy meals, maintain healthy habits while working from home, and navigate restaurant menus to accommodate food allergies. Consider sharing online resources and educational opportunities with your employees, especially if you have internal resources available. 

2. Personalized swag

Nothing makes employees feel included like personalized swag. As representatives of a brand and mission, employees are also part of a larger community. Businesses can show staff appreciation with branded sweatshirts, backpacks, coffee mugs, umbrellas, tote bags, and other free goodies. The key to providing five-star swag in your employee perks program? Think thoughtful, high-quality, and personalized. People don’t want cheap items that they aren’t going to use. 

Promote an inclusive company culture with swag that features employees’ names or roles at the company. This further individualizes them as an essential part of the greater whole — while empowering them to be a loyal advocate of your brand. Also,who doesn’t love seeing their name stitched onto a sweatshirt? 

Another great way to motivate and energize new hires is to offer a thoughtful onboarding kit. Many businesses are sending employees pandemic-friendly kits with masks and hand sanitizer featuring their company logo. Showing new hires you’re eager to have them on board creates a strong first impression — and sets the tone for their time at the company. New employees will feel included in their organization from the very beginning, and arrive on day one excited and motivated to join the team. 

Unsure what employees would enjoy most? Send out a company-wide survey listing different swag options and use staff feedback in the decision-making process. Keep employees in the loop about upcoming deliveries, or surprise them with special swag they weren’t expecting. 

3. Professional cleaning services and other household perks

A recent study found that spending money on time-saving services is linked to greater life satisfaction. People like services that save them time — and if their employer is covering the costs, that’s even better. 

Companies are increasingly turning to time-saving perks to promote better work-life balance among employees. A 2019 study shows that most people spend at least an hour, if not more, cleaning their living space every week. Imagine if your employer gave back this time with an in-home or in-office cleaning service. 

Both remote workers and in-person teams can benefit from a clean working environment. In fact, research shows that physical environments significantly affect workplace productivity. Cluttered spaces can negatively impact stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus. In a world filled with distractions, buying your employees time and a clean working space is sure to benefit everyone. 

Helping your employees maximize their productivity and reduce stress levels begins with making their lives easier at home. Consider an employee perks program that goes above and beyond to help employees manage their ever-growing to-do lists. Beyond cleaning, your employees have to think about buying groceries, preparing meals, picking up prescriptions, buying gifts for friends and family, and so much more. With DashPass for Work, your hardworking team can rely on convenient delivery for all of their needs — including food, flowers, groceries, prescriptions, gifts, and more. Learn how saving your employees’ time with delivery services pays off in the ROI of DoorDash for Work white paper. 


4. Music subscriptions and concert tickets

There’s a reason why many people like music — science proves that our brains are actually wired to enjoy it. Music communicates emotions that resonate with us on a biological level. So why not offer an employee perk that encourages your team to dance, sing, and activate their brains? What’s more, music subscriptions and concert tickets encourage employees to learn more about each others’ personal interests and build relationships outside of work. When employees come back together in the workplace, they can have a better understanding of one another. 

This is one way to promote work-life balance, especially in the wake of COVID-19 when the line between home and office has become increasingly blurry. By being attentive to employees’ interests and passions outside of the workplace, you can better understand who they are and what drives them in a professional setting. 

Concert tickets are an experiential employee perk that everyone can participate in and enjoy. As concerts resume at varying capacities post-COVID, businesses can offer discounted prices for different venues and artists, so employees can choose based on their individual music tastes. Employees could also potentially enjoy concerts with their coworkers as a means of team-building and mood boosting. However, keep in mind that concerts are a temporary employee perk that don’t affect your team’s day-to-day happiness. 

5. Free food

There’s one thing that all employees can agree they love: food. Not only do their bodies physically need to be fueled for a busy work day, employees also enjoy savoring their favorite meals with coworkers and family members alike. In a 2021 survey of 103 DashPass for Work users, 76% stated that food delivery increased their happiness. Happy employees promote positive company culture and are more likely to stay at their job. Beyond that, happiness increases employee productivity by 12%. In an eight-hour workday, 12% translates to 58 minutes or roughly an hour of added productivity per employee each day. 

Food delivery is a particularly trendy perk in 2021, especially considering many people are still working from home and unable to take advantage of in-office benefits. With employees spread out across the country, a gift card to a local lunch spot or grocery store near the office is no longer possible. Half of your team might be eating breakfast on the West Coast while employees on the East Coast have finished their lunch already. 

With an expensed meal program, employees can choose from 390,000+ restaurants with a monthly food ordering stipend they can use anytime. Businesses can enroll employees in the program and set automatic one-time or recurring budgets.  

This perk caters to employees across the country who are working from different locations at different hours of the day. Your team can spend the money how and when they choose on food from their favorite local restaurants or chains. Unlike gift cards, if your employees don’t use the recurring or one-time budget by the end of the time frame you choose, you’ll get the unused money back. In addition, 85% of employees feel that regular food delivery would increase their job satisfaction, so your team will likely be taking advantage of this perk! 

6. Financial wellness programs

Creating an inclusive workplace means offering everyone the same opportunities for success. Financial wellness is essential for every individual, yet it’s rarely prioritized in perks programs. A 2019 study found that 54% of employees are most stressed out about their financial situation. By showing employees that you care about reducing their stress and making life easier, you are simultaneously building trust. 

 Financial wellness programs help employees maximize their existing benefits, plan for emergencies, budget, manage debt, set aside retirement funds, and more. Programs might include financial education workshops, counseling sessions, or phone interviews customized to each individual’s needs. One size does not fit all, and your employees deserve individualized attention. 

This employee perk also creates an opportunity for employers to understand their workforce better by thinking about financial priorities across the board. Are a majority of employees managing student loan debt, or are they buying their first house? Financial wellness programs can promote awareness around a diverse employee base’s needs, which in turn can help businesses better meet those demands and understand financial priorities. If your employee perks program helps your team save money, you’re also contributing to their day-to-day financial wellness. With DashPass for Work, you can help your team save an average of $4-$5 per delivery. 

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7. Free books

A free book program is a valuable addition to your employee perks program that supports continued education. While not all employees necessarily like to read the same books, you’re giving them a choice to explore their own interests and genres. Studies show that reading helps to reduce stress levels, enhance creativity, encourage open-mindedness, and improve concentration. When employers are looking to hire new talent, they often seek open-minded, creative, focused employees. 

This is an inclusive way to encourage your workforce to read for personal and professional development. Keep engaging the creative, motivated minds you hired while giving them a choice personalized to their passions. You could even turn this perk into another team-building opportunity by launching a company-wide book club. However, it’s important to ask your employee base if they would make use of this opportunity.

8. Family-focused perks

In one month, the U.S. workforce works about 3.9 billion hours in total. That’s a lot of time spent with coworkers. When a new employee joins your company, they enter an environment where they will be spending a majority of their time each week — whether physically or virtually. Though building collaborative relationships at work is part of employment, it’s important to remember that employees also have their own families and commitments outside of the workplace. 

While not all employees are necessarily parents, they are likely family members. Deloitte offers a creative employee perks program for parents, parents-to-be, and other family members. Eligible employees, including mothers and fathers, can have up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave to bond with new babies after birth or adoption. They can also take leave to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, or parent with a serious health condition. Employees can also be reimbursed for up to $25,000 of expenses related to adoption or surrogacy. Imagine if your employee perks helped all family members juggle their commitments outside of work and reach their full potential in the workplace. 

In a 2020 DoorDash survey, 53% of those surveyed who have children said they’ve had at least one work failure, including missing a deadline, a call, or other work matter, due to a need to prep food for themselves or family. With DashPass for Work, you give back time to the hard-working parents on your team by providing delicious, convenient meals.  

However, it’s not just parents who are experiencing work failures due to meal prep. 49% of all survey respondents said they’ve had at least one work failure due to a need to prep food. Consider employee perks that include all family members, not only new parents or parents-to-be. That way, you’ll reach your entire workforce and show them that they’ve become part of your work family as well. 

Understanding a diverse workforce

High-performing teams aren’t born overnight. Instead, they’re built up with continuous support, recognition, and appreciation from within. 

Employee appreciation is an ongoing process that requires constant attention. 82% of employed Americans don’t feel that their supervisors recognize them enough for their contributions and 40% say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. Recognition takes many forms, but it’s important that every employee has a seat at the table—and better yet, enjoys what’s being served. 

A strong, inclusive employee perks program offers employees the support and recognition they deserve, while understanding that one size does not fit all. Whether you’re a large corporation or small business, your employees reflect various age groups, backgrounds, and demographics. Perks that only cater to specific age groups or demographics highlight exclusion. 

While company-wide initiatives like Employee Appreciation Day are important opportunities to express gratitude and recognize hard work, this support should not be limited to one day of the year. As an employer, it’s also important to note the distinction between recognition and appreciation. Recognition is about rewarding actions, while appreciation means showing that you value the individual behind that action. 

A strong employee perks program understands that employees aren’t just cogs in the machine—they’re individuals with their own set of needs, desires, strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Ongoing employee support is a crucial part of helping your team reach its full potential.

These 8 ideas are just the beginning of a continuous conversation with your employees. The best way to understand what attracts them to your workplace and subsequently makes them stay? A detailed survey or company-wide discussion about perks that considers everyone’s needs. Put out feelers for new ideas and show employees you value their insight, especially when it comes to enhancing their job experience. Employees will speak highly of your organization, boosting your brand reputation and attracting new talent in the process. 

Inclusive, thoughtful, successful businesses don’t reach one group of employees — they reach every employee. Choosing perks wisely incentivizes your entire workforce, supporting individual successes while simultaneously building a more inclusive, productive company at large. 

Hungry for more ways to support your employees? Download the 2021 Employee Wellness Program Checklist and design a program that encourages mental, emotional, and physical wellness for every employee.


Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest is an L.A.-based writer with bylines in Forbes, HuffPost, and VentureBeat to name a few. As a former Fulbright Scholar and Newsroom Columnist for the British Chamber of Commerce’s publication in China, she specializes in market trends and strategies businesses can use to grow. Her free time is spent ordering in dumplings and honeycomb ice cream and writing funny content to make people laugh.