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The balance of power between employers and workers has always been skewed in favor of the employers, and this has only been exacerbated by the mass unemployment caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. There are so many people currently looking for work that employers can be extremely picky about the candidates they consider.

This is certainly frustrating, and it mustn’t be overlooked, yet it’s important to remember that things aren’t all bad for workers today. Driven by the advancement of technology and changing circumstances (such as the current need to work remotely), working standards have risen quite significantly in many industries — and since the cream will still rise to the top, the candidates with the most to offer can be selective as well.

Does this mean that employers need to offer more money to secure top talent? Well, money certainly helps, but things are more complicated than that. Given the comforts of modern life, many people now want more than just money. They want broader support.

In this post, we’re going to look at five underrated employee benefits that can really win people over:

New tech training

We all need to stay apprised of the latest and greatest developments in the tech world, because it’s only a matter of time before those that stand up to scrutiny become parts of daily life. Those who resisted the emergence of smartphones eventually had to concede defeat because so many things now rely on them: corporate apps, for instance, or two-factor authentication.

Some of this learning can be self-guided, certainly. Any individual can read tech blogs, follow tech channels, and even take online courses. But what about hardware (or even expensive software)? Not all developers provide trial versions of their software, and hardware is simply something you need to have with you if you’re going to understand it (think of VR/AR).

Due to this, a fantastic benefit of working for a tech-centric company can be getting to try out pieces of new technology before they hit the mainstream. Not only is that fun for people who are interested in technology, but it’s also useful for their careers because it gives them advance notice of what the future might hold.

Home office equipment

Now that many people are working remotely due to lockdown measures (and might continue to work remotely once things otherwise start to return to normal), home offices are of immense importance, and the companies that have committed to optimizing them are going to reap the rewards in the long run for two major reasons.

Firstly, it makes life easier for their employees. One of the key advantages of working remotely is that you can change things up (work outside on a sunny day, for instance), but that’s easier said than done with a lot of home office setups. Making everything modular through connective peripherals (everything from monitor switches to hard drive docking stations — I defer to StarTech’s guidance on the specifics, but you get the idea) allows much-improved flexibility that empowers employees to truly take advantage of that freedom.

Secondly, it makes their employees more productive. An ergonomic keyboard might seem like a frivolity until someone suffers a repetitive strain injury and can’t type effectively for a month: then it seems like the money-saving tool it really is. Having a comfortable chair and a big display won’t just make the employee feel good — it will also allow them to get more work done.

Optional work hours

Yes, I chose this wording very carefully: not flexible work hours, but optional work hours. Flexible working is definitely a great thing that more companies should offer, but it’s hardly underrated: everyone sees how handy it is to be able to start work whenever you want or finish early on a whim knowing that you can make up the hours later.

Optional work hours, though, is relatively revolutionary. Still something that most companies will be too afraid to implement, it’s a very simple concept: you have an assigned workload, and you’re expected to get it done. That’s it. How many hours you work (and when you work them) is up to you. Provided you hit your deadlines, everything’s fine.

This is such an underrated benefit because companies still fear it. They think their workers will stop putting in any effort. In reality, though, so much of company time is currently ineffective because people work at different rates. One person might need six hours to complete a task, but another might be better served getting it done in three intense hours and then relaxing. Why force them to drag it out over six hours?

General pet support

Child support is a fantastic benefit, but one that flies under the radar is pet support. It might sound trivial relative to the other things we’re looking at here, but our pets matter so much to us — and contribute so significantly to our wellbeing — that having an employer that does what it can to support its employees’ pets will earn a lot of goodwill.

This can involve funding any necessary operations, paying for pet food, arranging to have pets looked after during business trips, and even having bring-your-pet-to-work days (when offices are actually running). From the employer’s perspective, it also makes for an excellent thing to talk about on social media.

Mental health days

If you’re feeling down, you’re exhausted, or your mind is stuck on some issue in your personal life, the traditional business stance is “get on with it” — just continue working as normal and deal with your problems on your own time. Thankfully, more and more businesses are coming to accept that this approach doesn’t help anyone. Mental health is slowly losing its stigma.

As a consequence, a benefit that’s seen some adoption (but still not enough) is the allowance of mental health days (Healthline has a good guide to this). If you just don’t feel ready to work on a given day due to your mental health, you can just take the day off, no questions asked. You don’t need to explain why you’re feeling rough or offer any kind of diagnosis.

Mental health days can be unlimited, but they don’t need to be. Just knowing that they can take a few days off to recover if things get bad enough can really comfort someone who’s struggling, and if they need even more time than that, they can simply ask for it.

There are so many employee benefits that can make workers happier and earn their loyalty, but here we’ve looked at some that are distinctly underrated. If you’re looking for work, then keep an eye out for these benefits — and if you’re out looking for employees, think carefully about which of these you could offer.

Rodney LawAbout the Author:

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platform you should use to build your website. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business.

Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.