Healthcare and 401(k)? Boring. Today’s employees crave benefits that are as innovative as they are. Providing the perks employees really want—in addition to the medical coverage they need, of course—can help you attract and retain top talent.

Fortunately, employee benefits don’t have to be expensive to be appealing. Don’t feel pressure to build a Google-worthy game room or turn your headquarters into a jungle terrarium like Amazon. These five ideas for employee benefits will please your staff without the need to re-decorate your office digs.

Loan Payback Assistance

Millennials have an average of $41,286.60 in student debt, more than $10,000 higher than the national average of debt for all college graduates. What’s worse, research found that 59 percent of Millennials with student loans say they have “no idea” when they will pay it back.

Want to raise employee morale? Give millennials a hand with those loans. For example, PwC offers employees $1,200 a year in student loan reimbursement.

Physical and Mental Health Benefits

Healthy employees are more productive employees, so when you beef up your employee wellness programs, everyone wins. This may include an on-site fitness center or an array of free, healthy snacks in the breakroom.

Focus on employee mental health, too. Yoga classes, in-office massage, or healthcare benefits packages that provide coverage for mental wellness programs are increasingly common benefits that emphasize overall employee wellness.

Flexible Schedules and Unlimited Vacation Time

Offering flexible working hours or unlimited vacation time may sound scary to some employers. What if no one shows up for work? But without the “use it or lose it” incentive in place, employees are actually less likely to take vacation time. When they do, you can even up the ante by helping to fund their trip, just like Epic Systems, a software development firm in the healthcare industry, does. Epic gives their employees an additional four weeks paid vacation every five years, and if the employee spends that time in a country they’ve never visited before, Epic helps pay travel expenses for the employee and a guest. By providing some incentive for your team members to travel to new locales, they will return to work refreshed, de-stressed, and perhaps bearing a new cultural perspective that could help them do their job better.

At Netflix’s California headquarters, abolishing the 9-to-5 grind has paid off. Employees are held accountable for completing their work—not punching a clock. Those who work hard love the freedom and those who abuse the policy won’t last long, which is why the system works.

Family-focused Benefits

Only a handful of states mandate paid family leave, but paid maternity leave—and even paternity leave for dads—is becoming a must-have benefit for companies to attract and keep talent. You might also offer on-site childcare or childcare reimbursement for employees with young children, a number that is growing as more millennials—who now represent the largest percentage of the workforce—enter their late 20s and 30s and start families.

Foster a family-friendly work atmosphere with other perks, too, such as observing “Bring Your Child to Work Day” or giving employees time off—with pay and without guilt—to attend school functions or their children’s sports and activities.

Invite Pets into the Workplace

A family-friendly workplace helps employees create a better work-life balance. But creating a pet-friendly workplace lets employees bring an important part of their lives into the office. Pets in the office can reduce stress, enhance camaraderie amongst employees, and even improve retention. Coffee breaks become walks around the park—which further increases employee wellness. This low-cost benefit has even been shown to enhance employee productivity.

If you’re not ready to leap into this benefit with all four paws, start with “Bring Your Pet to Work Day” or extend the privilege to a week and see how it goes. Before you make the announcement, set some rules for pet behavior and, of course, be conscientious of employees in the office who may have allergies. With the groundwork laid, your employees’ furry companions might just become your company’s greatest benefit.

Match Your Benefits to Your Culture

Not every idea on this list will be the best fit for every office.  But you can attract top talent and increase employee retention by building a creative benefits package that reflects your company culture and the values that are important to the people in your organization. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and the return on investment will last for years.

Photo Credit: C x 2 Flickr via Compfight cc

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