Navigating Benefits

Intangible Benefits That Boost Employee Retention

  • Intangible benefits can be just as effective (if not more so) than monetary perks for employees

  • Examples of intangibles include telecommuting, autonomy, employee recognition, advancement opportunities and work-life balance

  • Intangibles predict employee well-being, workplace satisfaction and retention

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Posted by October 24, 2017

While financial incentives can keep workers at a company longer, intangible benefits are just as important as bonuses and pay raises for employee retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Offering intangible benefits (in addition to monetary ones) can also mean cost savings for your company—that’s why intangibles are a win-win. Here are some examples of benefits that your workforce may enjoy.


Employees seem to crave autonomy—that is, having control over their own workplace agendas and schedules (not being told what to do and when to do it). A recent study published in the journal Work and Occupations found that employee job control boosts satisfaction and perceived well-being, especially among women. So while autonomy costs you nothing, offering it as part of your company culture is a way to recruit and retain top employees.


Sometimes, simply telling employees “great job” is one of the most important things you can do as an employer. Employees like being recognized for their efforts and successes, even if the reward isn’t monetary.

A 2015 study published in The Spanish Journal of Psychology found that employee recognition programs in the workplace positively impact well-being and psychological functioning. Providing awards is one way to reward employees, but simply telling them “thank you” can also boost job satisfaction.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is good for the soul, and being able to balance time between work and family life is key to employee happiness and retention. In fact, SHRM noted that intangibles like work-balance can have an even greater impact on employee engagement and motivation than financial rewards. An easy way to show employees that you care about their lives outside the office is turning work functions into family events, or offering on-site childcare.

Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling can be more important than bonuses for many employees—especially those with children. Whether it means getting to work early and leaving early for a child’s sporting event or coming in late (and staying late) due to family illness or doctor appointments, flexibility is a must for employees seeking fulfillment from a work-life balance.

Advancement Opportunities

Many employees seek achievable life goals to work toward, to maximize their job satisfaction. The opportunity for advancement offers just that, incentivizing employees to achieve maximum job performance in hopes of moving up the company ladder (and receiving associated pay increases).

Telecommuting Options

By offering employees the opportunity to work from home (at least some days during the week), you’re saving them the time and money associated with commuting to work and getting dressed up. Plus, many employees can get the same amount of work accomplished in shorter time periods without the distractions of day-to-day office life.

On-the-Job Training

If you’re willing to teach workers new skills that they need to stay abreast in the industry, cross over into new industries or roles and move up the corporate ladder, that’s invaluable in many employees’ eyes. If you’re teaching new skill sets to motivated, hard-working employees (rather than those with the right skills but who lack good attitudes and strong work ethics), it’s a win-win for you and your staff.

A Focus on Health

As chronic diseases run rampant in the U.S., employees expect a health focus in the workplace now more than ever. Offering benefits like on-site healthy food options, access to a dietitian or health coach, a workplace community garden or memberships to gyms and fitness classes can draw in—and retain—many employees seeking healthy lifestyles.

Why Choose Intangibles?

Offering employees monetary incentives is a good place to start, but it doesn’t necessarily keep your staff happy long-term. That’s why providing intangible benefits (to stay a cut above the competition) is crucial.

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