Pawternity Leave and More Work Perks That Americans Are Missing Out On

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Employee Demand

With the Great Resignation still going strong, workers are able to make more demands for job perks; according to a Harris survey from February, 51% of workers say their employers have piled on benefits in the past six months. But there’s far more on the negotiating table than higher wages (though that’s a popular request, too). Job search site Lensa dove into the top benefits in demand from workplaces this year based on U.S. and global internet searches and got results that may surprise you — but here’s a spoiler alert: Free coffee and performance bonuses were among the least wanted by workers.

Related: These Companies Offer Surf Breaks and Other Unusual Employee Perks

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Menopause Leave

Lensa sees a meteoric rise in interest in menopause leave — a 1,300% year-over-year growth in searches, making it the largest increase since 2018. “Menopause takes a toll on the body. It can cause low energy, hot flashes, headaches, issues with concentration, and more. This can make it very hard to work, and 1 in 4 women experience these symptoms to a debilitating level,” says Bradford Goodwin, Lensa’s chief content strategist. With experts fearing an exodus of female workers, an employer response would be smart. “Menopause leave can look like flexible workplace adjustments such as allowing time off for appointments, or taking a break when symptoms flare up,” Goodwin says. “We believe employee interest in this has risen due to the rise of working from home. Working remotely allows employees to be comfortable if they are struggling with menopausal symptoms. They can cool down if they’re having hot flashes or take a break away from their screen if they have a headache.”

Related: Remote Work and Other Job Benefits You Shouldn't Overlook

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Hybrid Work

Even as the pandemic ebbs, remote work is here to stay. Hybrid working offers employees and employers balance, with workers coming into the office only on certain days or for in-person obligations. The flexibility allows employees to reduce commuting time and gives greater work-life balance, while allowing employers the ability to call in-person gatherings. Lensa sees an 820% increase in searches for this benefit. 

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Working Remotely

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Four-Day Workweeks

Companies from Kickstarter to Panasonic have implemented a shorter workweek for employees. California even tried to pass a statewide four-day workweek, though it failed to advance through the state’s legislature. If worker Internet searches are any indication, this benefit is up and coming: Lensa sees an 809% increase in interest.

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Employee Assistance Programs

Employee assistance programs help workers with mental and physical health issues that may affect their performance, offering counseling and coaching for free. The perk ranked third among searches in the United States and fourth globally — according to Goodwin, a degree of demand that surprised Lensa researchers. “This shows the impact of the pandemic on workers’ well-being,” Goodwin says. “Last October, the American Psychological Association reported that almost 7 out of 10 psychologists had a growing waiting list since the pandemic started. The unavailability of such services creates a real need for employers to offer counseling that fills the gap for workers.”

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Signing Bonuses

These one-time bonuses for employees who sign up to work for a new company racked up 139,000 searches in the United States, placing the benefit fourth in U.S. interest — but only eighth globally. Companies are delivering, with signing bonuses up 454% since August 2020, a GlobalData survey found last fall.

Man working at home office with Golden Retriever dog
Enes Evren/istockphoto

Pet-Friendly Offices

People adopted a lot of pets during the pandemic; Frontiers in Veterinary Science found demand for dog and cat adoption up 250%. Now workers are hesitating to leave their four-legged family members behind as they return to the office. “As a result, many workers began taking their dogs to work with them,” Goodwin says. “While this was a novelty before COVID-19, we’ve noticed that more companies are offering pet-friendly offices in their benefits packages. It’s ideal for enticing pet-owning employees back to the office.” Searches for pet-friendly offices are up 86% since 2018.

Happy woman and her newly adopted dog
NoSystem images/istockphoto

Pawternity Leave

Speaking of furry family members, researchers see a rising interest in “pawternity leave” — taking time off to bond with a new pet. “Pawternity leave is a workplace perk that we first heard about back in 2017, when brewery Brewdog began offering a week’s leave for new puppy owners. However, pet-based companies have been doing this for a while. Mars Petcare has always given employees 10 hours to look after their new pet,” Goodwin says of the McLean, Virginia, company. “It’s a perk that we’ve seen increase in popularity, particularly during the pandemic.” Millennials choosing to raise a pet rather than a child has been “a huge trend on TikTok,” Goodwin says, “so maybe in the future, pawternity leave will be more common.” Searches for pawternity leave are up 50% since 2018.

Office work environment automation

Smart Offices

These high-tech environments that help employees work more efficiently and comfortably ranked second (just behind remote work) in global employee benefit demands. Examples include intelligent climate and lighting control, cloudbooking software for meeting rooms and “hotdesking” that lets more people share space and equipment without running into each other,  automated check-in processes for visitors, and the like. “By automating processes, a smart office can help the day-to-day operations of the workplace run smoothly, increasing productivity for staff. Smart tech can make the office a more desirable place to work, which is particularly important in the age of hybrid working where employees may prefer to work at home,” Goodwin says.

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Career Development

Rounding out the top five of global employee demands is career development, which puts the ball in employers’ courts to sponsor education that allows workers to advance along their career paths.

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Resilience Training

This unusual demand — ranking 16th in global searches for benefits — is perhaps less surprising when considering the roller coaster workers have been on for the past couple of years. “Resilience is a learned behavior, allowing us to face challenges in a healthy way. Resilience training is a structured activity designed to help employees flex that skill and approach situations at work with a positive attitude,” Goodwin says. “We never know what lies ahead. Training can help workers manage change.”

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Edwin Tan/istockphoto

From Dream to Reality

Are employees getting what they want? Lensa says it’s clear employers haven’t yet caught up with all, and it’s hard to know how widely perks such as remote work and menopause are offered — but the federal government now has an employee assistance program, parental leave, and child care. “If large employers like the government can offer such perks, we’d hope that other employers can, too,” Goodwin says.

Related: Workplace Traditions That Are Gone Forever