Most people aren’t working only for the money. With the “new normal,” people have started to rethink whether their job aligns with their life’s purpose, their goals, and what they actually want for themselves. 

In March 2021, the Society for Human Resource Management warned of a turnover “tsunami” predicting that 50% of employees intend to look for a new job this year and according to a 2021 McKinsey survey, only 44% of employees believe their organizational purpose is aligned and activated with their personal purpose. 

When an organization's purpose is aligned with its employees' purpose, employee retention increases along with job satisfaction. Now more than ever, companies have to find ways to become appealing, whether it’s through company culture or their HR benefits, everyone has to up their game in the current competitive job market. 

However, many traditional, trendy, and even bread and butter HR benefits don’t really fit into the new norm and thus won’t move the needle on attracting and retaining top talent. With employees being the lifeblood of your business, you want to make sure they feel appreciated, happy, and in-tune with your company’s mission. 

Reminding your employees that you are grateful for the hard work they do to meet deadlines, drive business growth, and achieve company goals is crucial to strengthening relationships on all levels of your organization. On top of what leaders can do on a daily basis, HR leadership can also design HR benefits that also support employees and align with your company’s core values.

Why do you need to adjust your employee benefits and rewards?

Employee retention is increasingly becoming a primary concern for companies. Throughout the pandemic lives were lost, people moved across the country, and dealt with deep stress, fundamentally changing people’s lives going forward. 

As employees rethink what they expect from work, companies also need to adjust their morale, focus, and mindset on how they treat their employees. Already, 80% of surveyed executives claim that employee satisfaction, including overall wellness, remote support, and flexible leave policies were crucial to the success of their organization. But how do you act on that belief, especially in a flexible work environment?

Rethinking your company benefits and rewards is an important way to boost your organization's overall productivity. Having employees that are happy translates into efficient time management, lower operation costs, and ultimately helps your business increase its profit. In fact, new research found that employee happiness boosts work-related productivity by 12%. So how can you make your team happier at work?  

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, “the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” One of the main things you want to take into consideration is the accelerated shifts in our current work culture. This is hard for your employees. These sudden changes add a significant amount of stress on your employees and to keep them happy, you need to show as a business that you recognize how difficult it is today and are actively there to help.

According to a new Microsoft survey, over 70% of workers want flexible remote work options. However, not all benefits are created equal. As more hybrid workflows have been adopted, leaders need to ensure employee benefits are in line with the work conditions in the new normal, tailoring HR benefits to ensure employee satisfaction and go beyond in-person workplace perks.

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Which common benefits are less popular and less effective in the new normal?

When you’re creating the right benefits package for your employees, you want to make sure they’ll actually use the benefits you include. Employees are undergoing an unfamiliar set of challenges and many of the benefits that worked pre-pandemic are not as relevant or impactful today. Here are a few trendy benefits that aren’t as popular as you might think:


Most of your employees won't participate in meditation. In fact, according to the CDC, only 14% of American adults said they meditated in 2018 and only 15% of remote employees stated they would be interested in meditation sessions or apps. And virtually, your employees are on video calls all day, the last thing they want is a remote guided meditation to add more to their zoom fatigue. Additionally, research shows that online learning environments reduce motivation and present distractions. Although practicing mindfulness improves focus and concentration, there are limited studies on how significant an impact it actually has.

Discounts and Rewards

While everyone loves a good deal, the benefits of material spending are short-term and don’t impact productivity in the workplace or long-term happiness. Recently, a PNAS publication found that employees are less interested in material spending and more likely to enjoy services that make life more convenient. Even though several rewards can be redeemed online across the country, location may be problematic for employees who don’t share access to the same brands. Plus discounts and rewards don't have a direct impact on your organization's productivity or its profit. Although these benefits can save employees money, they rarely save them time. For instance, a gift card could be useful when employees are online shopping, but frustrating if they can’t find brands or locations they’d actually want to spend it on. In addition, these discounts and rewards don't have a long-lasting impact on employee's daily lives or reduce their stress.

Around-the-Clock Childcare

At first glance it may seem that removing childcare from your employees extensive to-do list would be a blessing. At the height of the pandemic, while working from home, parents needed to make sure their kids were staying on track through their virtual classes and well nourished during lunch time. However, now that schools have gone back to providing in-person classes, this benefit is not as relevant as it once may have been. Additionally, according to a recent Harris Poll, about 19% of older millennials say they have decided not to have a child at this time due to the pandemic. Decreasing numbers of people are having children, making this benefit unappealing to a growing number of workers.

Gym memberships

Discounted gym memberships or fitness stipends have traditionally been popular to include in benefits packages. However, finding a gym that's accessible to all your workforce, includes everybody's preferences, and feels safe to workout in can be hard. Add to that the complication of the majority of gyms being closed for most of 2020 and uncertainty with new variants going forward and you're looking at a benefit that's rapidly decreasing in demand.

Paid time off

PTO is crucial for employees to recharge and decompress, yet it’s often overlooked by companies. To make matters worse, during 2020 and even today employers have been encouraging "staycations” which makes it harder for workers to actually disconnect and relax while at home. Not encouraging your employees to take their allotted PTO can quickly lead to burnout. In fact, in a recent Deloitte survey of 1,000 full-time U.S. professionals, 42% of respondents said they’ve left a job specifically because they felt burned out. This is why extra wellness PTO has increased in popularity among companies that are seeking to boost morale and improve their teams' work-life balance.

What are better benefits employees actually want?

Many companies are already adjusting their benefits packages as well as their rewards. To stay competitive as an employer you need to find innovative ways that will get your top talent excited to work at your company. 

The right employee benefits not only help your company stay competitive, but it also helps attract top talent. Core benefits like healthcare coverage and vacation are still important, but there are other employee rewards that can also have a crucial impact on your employees' workday stress reduction and productivity. Here's a list of company benefits that can make a significant impact on your bottom line:

Flexible work arrangements

The 19th century work model that was widely implemented into the 20th century is quickly becoming obsolete with the new normal. Even though working 9-5 may work for some employees, others may do their best work earlier in the day or even at night. A recent SHRM survey found that 52% of respondents had tried to negotiate more flexible work arrangements with their company, while a staggering 80% reported flexible work options would increase their company loyalty.

Improved work/life balance, saving time by avoiding commuting as well as office distractions are some of the main reasons employees don’t want to be in the office full-time. This comes as no surprise, before COVID-19, 25% of Americans were working from home and when the pandemic struck, tables turned—and that figure soared to 70%. As more and more companies start to take note, providing your workers with flexibility is one way to improve employee satisfaction as well as ensure business continuity in the years to come.


Learning opportunities

Offering your team the possibility to acquire new skills or hone the ones they have is a benefit that has a direct impact on your company's productivity. So how can you implement this benefit in your company? To start off, you should consider the size of your organization and depending on it you could provide access to webinars that will have a positive effect for your company down the line. 

Consider sponsoring after-hours courses for employees, like coding bootcamps or other skill-based training programs. For employees that want to expand their creativity, allow them to apply this stipend to less traditional courses, like a writing workshop or a graphic design webinar. Some employees may even be interested in learning skills to help them function more effectively overall. If employees want to learn how to eat healthier while working from home or other tips, check out DoorDash for Work’s webinars hosted by our team of dietitians.

Food delivery

Both your in-office and remote employees need to eat throughout the day to keep their energy levels stable and be better able to focus on their tasks at hand. Providing your employees with delivery benefits like DashPass for Work makes your team feel appreciated no matter where they are working from. In fact, a recent DoorDash survey found that 85% of employees said regular food delivery would increase their job satisfaction. Including food delivery perks to your benefits package goes beyond making your employees happier, it also gives your workforce the chance to access improved nutrition which ultimately boosts their productivity. With the fear of the delta variant, family members getting sick, and more, not having to worry about preparing food can reduce everyday stress levels.

Free meals

Historically used by consulting firms, law firms, and finance agencies, free food was commonly provided to employees to take the stress off and show appreciation for employees' hard work. Today with stress levels on the rise, it’s a great tool for all industries trying to increase employee satisfaction and happiness. According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, giving your employees access to food is a powerful gesture that will increase employee motivation as well as job satisfaction. For employees returning to the office, Group Orders enable employees to pick their own meal with their individual dietary preferences when there's an office lunch, encouraging teams to come together. Additionally for those working from home, with Expensed Meals you can set a budget for employees to order wherever they are, making everyone feel more engaged and appreciated.

Feeling appreciated

As simple as it sounds, ensuring employees feel seen and appreciated can go a long way in improving employee satisfaction. In fact, 40% of employees say they'd put more energy into their work if they felt their efforts were being recognized. Consider ways to show employees you appreciate them and you’ll find a workforce that’s more motivated.

Trish McFarlane, CEO and Principal Analyst of H3 HR Advisors, suggests engaging employees with gratitude as they return to work. Gratitude and appreciation are interpersonal actions—not something that can be bought or activated instantly—so they require time to implement, but the effort is well worth it. As Trish explains: “Gratitude is also highly personal, which is why it can have such an impact on the employee’s experience. If done right, with intent and personalization, it can also be the reason that an employee feels a connection to not only the supervisor, but the team and the organization.” In addition, Trish recommends simple things to show you care, like writing thank you notes or cards for your employees, building care kits, and writing and publishing employee highlight pieces.

Unique company-sponsored experiences

Something else Trish McFarlane recommends: providing unique experience for your employees. She explains how experiences can help you communicate gratitude to your team as well as individuals, noting that company-sponsored experiences “often leave lasting memories and good will for anyone who participates. These shared experiences help team members remember the norms and habits.” Think of experiences as an employee reward that also brings your team together, and builds a strong company culture that people will want to work for.

Since everyone is wired differently, consider activities that allow for a wide range of participation while encouraging people to step outside of their day-to-day priorities. Trish suggests laidback learning experiences, like an art, wine, or cooking class, or something that helps people relax individually but together, like a 10-15 minute mobile massage session. Skip the competitive activities, and look for things that build strong connections.

Inclusive perks

In this day and age, more and more companies are starting to define how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) shows up in their organizations. As you build out policies that support all of your employees, don’t forget to apply that mindset to the employee rewards and benefits you offer. 

A good framework for this is to think about what you can provide to level the playing field at work. As Bobbie Goheen, a Leadership Coach with Synthesis Management Group, explained in a recent Forbes article, “DEI is not an initiative; it is a practice of growing awareness of others in a new way.” Some ideas for inclusive employee perks include paying for professional home cleanings, subsidizing the delivery of food and other home staples like diapers with plans like DashPass for Work, and offering comprehensive wellness programs

The key to this is offering employee rewards that don’t feel one-size-fits-all. Give employees the power to customize how and when they use these benefits, tailoring them to their unique needs. Supporting employees’ diverse lives outside of the office contributes to their overall wellbeing, which can help them feel supported and more ready to show up at work.

Food delivery gift cards

Everyone needs to eat! ​​With over 450,000 restaurants to choose from, employees can easily get their favorite meal delivered. Plus, with DoorDash for Work employee gift cards, the amount never expires, so employees can redeem them whenever is most convenient. It’s an easy way to support work-life balance, and show employees that you care. Building on the idea of supporting your workforce in a holistic way, giving your employees food delivery cards is a quick and easy way to offer a benefit that they’ll actually use. 

Investing in the employee rewards that matter

When it comes down to it, investing in your employee rewards program can have a massive ripple effect. Choosing the right employee rewards can boost overall company productivity and morale, and increase employee satisfaction and retention.

As you build out your benefits package, DoorDash for Work can help you incorporate increased convenience, support, and appreciation into your employees lives with innovative offerings like Expensed Meals, Group Orders, DashPass for Work, and more. When your employees are well-fed and feel taken care of, they’re more likely to show up at work ready to perform to the best of their abilities. Good employee benefits benefit everyone.

Curious about how your current benefits package stacks up? Check out our guide on How to Choose Five-Star Employee Benefits to compare the impact of food delivery, discounts and rewards, wellness stipends, and more so that you can make more informed decisions about the employee benefits that make an impact.


Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest is an L.A.-based freelance B2B writer with bylines in Forbes, HuffPost, and VentureBeat to name a few. 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.