Perks and Benefits

December 2022 |

How to reward your team and increase staff satisfaction and retention.

What’s the difference between benefits and perks? “You hear these terms used interchangeably a lot, but there’s a huge difference between them,” says Heather Romano, a veterinary business consultant.

Benefits are part of the employee’s salary package (health/dental coverage, PTO, paid sick days, 401k, commute stipends, CE), whereas perks are auxiliary items to make working at your practice more enjoyable (career development, snacks, chair massages, paid lunches), she explains.

But the main thing to understand as an employer is their effects. “Benefits are more important for recruiting, and perks are more important for retention,” says Romano. “Hospitals that are providing really nice perks are seeing much less turnover.”

Millenial Appeal

Younger workers in particular value a job that offers both benefits and perks. More than half (56%) of Millennials say that the perks and benefits offered are an important reason that they came to work for their employer, according to research from iVET360, a professional services provider for independent veterinary hospitals.

“That’s 25 percentage points higher than for Boomers, which is a huge gap,” says Romano. “And since there are now more Millennials than Boomers in our hospitals, we need to really start considering what they want.” Additionally, the research found that 19% of Millennial employees would actually prefer additional perks over a raise.

If you offer good benefits and good perks, people will think twice before looking for another job, says Romano. “Never ignore the perks.”

Top Perks

Training is the most important perk you can offer, says Romano. “Younger workers want that training,” she says. Take a look at your offerings in this area, she advises: Is it good? It is terrible? Do most people end up completing their new-hire training programs? Do you provide ongoing training for your teams? “Most veterinary hospital training programs are not robust, or there’s no ongoing training,” she says. Offering a good program will make your hospital stand out.

Development is the next most important perk to younger workers, says Romano. These perks come in two types, she adds:
1. Career-focused Development. “This does not mean sending people to conventions,” says Romano. It should happen within the hospital, she explains, through sessions taught by a doctor, lead technician, practice manager or outside vendor.
2. Personal Development. “Employees don’t want to learn just about work—they want to learn about life, and to know they have a boss looking out for them,” says Romano.

Perks in this area might include:

  • 401(k) rep discussing financial planning
  • Health insurance rep discussing healthy eating
  • Yoga instructor discussing stress relief
  • Seminar on organizational skills
  • Seminar on compassion fatigue

Consider offering talks on handling personal finances, Romano suggests. A MetLife study found that more Millennials (51%) than Boomers (39%) strongly valued education programs on individual financing and retirement.

More Potential Perks

Many other offerings can function as perks, including:

  • Profit sharing
  • Extra PTO at the holidays
  • Off-site events
  • Company-sponsored sports teams
  • Creating clubs at your hospital. “There are so many interests out there,” says Romano. “Some hospitals have knitting clubs that meet once a week and knit.”
  • Community service time. “This is a really big one for Millennials,” says Romano. “They like to get paid to go and volunteer somewhere else.”
  • On-site massage or other spa services
  • Ping-pong table
  • Paid birthday off
  • And, of course, food!

Take Credit

The perks you supply don’t have to be expensive, but you do have to make it obvious and take credit for providing them, says Romano. For example, you might say, “Hey everyone, I appreciate everything you’re doing, and therefore there is pizza in the break room!”