Have you ever wondered how top companies retain their talent over time? With a radically low unemployment rate, companies are struggling to fill key positions — making it a great market for individuals with unique or niche talents that are in high demand. It isn’t surprising to learn that these individuals are looking for far more than simply a paycheck: keeping them happy and productive requires some extraordinary benefits offerings such as unlimited vacation time, free breast milk shipping for traveling moms, nap pods and more. See how these 7 companies are truly raising the bar on employee benefits.

What’s the Makeup of An Exceptional Benefits Offering?

There is a fine line between employee benefits and “perks”, and it can be a little difficult to tell the difference. An exceptional employee benefits offering could be healthcare that is completely funded by the company, flexible working hours, generous paternity and maternity leave or professional career development benefits. What’s important to today’s workers is providing them with choices such as medical coverage that allows you expanded flexibility in terms of healthcare providers, wellness programs and other tax-advantaged financial tools. It’s crucial to listen to your employees and stay conscious of the age mix, as the needs of staff members can change over time. Younger employees may be more interested in childcare offerings while older workers tend to be more conscious of having the right insurance offerings for their stage of life. No matter the size of your organization, offering unique employee benefits will set you apart and ensure your employees feel valued.

Benefits of Employee Retention for Your Business

It takes an average of 1 year and thousands of dollars to hire and train a new staff member — and dramatically more than that if you’re hiring a manager or executive. That investment needs time to manifest as value for your business, making retention an important focus for your human resources department. Employees who stay in their organization for more than 2-3 years provide even greater contributions to the business over time, as well as providing valuable relationships throughout the business by creating vendor and customer relationships. Your HR professionals should be constantly communicating the value of your health care and other benefits to your staff members while making it as easy as possible to use their benefits. Here are 7 companies that are raising the bar when it comes to providing exceptional benefits offerings.

1. Ben and Jerry’s

In what is probably considered the mother of all benefits, Ben and Jerry’s employees are able to take home three full pints of ice cream . . . per day! Plus, they are encouraged to share their dairy bounty with friends and family members. What’s better than that? They also get to have a say in naming some of the newest creations to come from the ice cream giant.

2. Netflix

If the idea of never having to clock in again sounds good, Netflix may be just the right organization for you! Not only do they not have specific working hours, but they also provide unlimited vacation and sick days — as long as the work is being completed to their satisfaction. This may not work for all organizations, but Netflix seems to have struck a balance that works for their high-performing teams.

3. Starbucks

Starbucks has long been known for its great education benefits, but they are now taking that a step even further. Every part-time or full-time employee of the Seattle coffee giant is eligible for their Pathway to Admission program, which allows individuals who are not academically inclined to take freshman-level courses multiple times at no charge to help them qualify to enroll in college.

4. Cisco

Awareness of physical health is not unexpected when it comes to employee benefits, but Cisco’s CEO has taken a stand on supporting individuals with mental health challenges, too. After an appeal to the company’s 75,000 employees, CEO Chuck Robbins helped change the culture of his organization to be more inclusive and welcoming to encourage people to get help.

5. Zynga

Stock plans and bonuses are an everyday part of working at Zynga, but you’ll also have an excellent working environment to make your days go by easier. Their casual dress code and free daily catered lunch attract a young workforce that is engaged and proactive.

6. Twitter

Working moms have some special challenges when they travel for business, especially new moms who are currently breastfeeding. While it usually doesn’t make sense to take a child with you, a breastfeeding mother needs a way to pump and quickly get that life-giving liquid back to her young one at home. Twitter is one of several organizations that ships breastmilk for traveling moms — for free.

7. NASA

You don’t think of a government organization as being extremely proactive in terms of their benefits offering, but NASA is a different model altogether. In an attempt to encourage bright thinking and wellness, NASA is one of several high-tech organizations that offer napping as an employee benefit.

From sleeping on the job to free ice cream, it’s a great time to be an employee in America! These employee benefits are not simply benefitting the employee, however. They are also ensuring that organizations have a highly-trained and highly-committed workforce that believes in the company and is willing to do their best work to make it successful. You can take a lesson from these large companies and apply unique benefits offerings your small or mid-sized company with the same great results. Download our helpful guide “8 Ways to Reduce Employee Benefits Costs without Compromising Coverage” to help increase your employees’ satisfaction with the benefits you’re currently offering.