The Ultimate Guide to Employee Lifestyle Benefits

Great talent is getting harder to attract, retain, and engage. The perfect solution for this problem is lifestyle benefits - benefits that support an increasingly diverse workforce.

Last updated September 6, 2023 by Sarah Bedrick


Lifestyle benefits have emerged as one of the biggest focus areas for people operations leaders today. We'll dive into all of their advantages later in this guide, but to put it simply - it's because...

the basic benefits that companies have been offering up until now just aren't cutting it anymore.

What used to be unique lifestyle benefits (also sometimes called perks) - things like unlimited coffee, free food, and the ability to work remotely - are now so standard that current and prospective employees of your organization aren't going to be very impressed if that's all you've got.

When you offer the best employee benefits, your company can unlock a truly personalized experience for your employees' diverse needs so that they can actually feel supported and happy to be working at your company, whether your team is fully remote, hybrid, or going back to the office.

Here's what is covered in this guide:

  1. What are lifestyle benefits?
  2. What are the advantages of lifestyle benefits?
  3. Common types of lifestyle benefits
  4. Examples of lifestyle benefits offered by top companies 
  5. The different ways of offering lifestyle benefits

What are lifestyle benefits?

First, a definition:

Lifestyle benefits, sometimes referred to as employee perks or employee lifestyle perks, are non-salary benefits given to employees to improve their overall lifestyle and which go above and beyond standard medical, dental, and vision benefits. 

Modern companies turn to lifestyle benefits to broaden employee access to goods and services that improve all areas of their lives, including mental, physical, psychological, and financial.

The categories employee lifestyle benefits can cover include: 

  • Health and wellness
  • Professional development
  • Childcare
  • Pet care
  • Productivity and apps  
  • Food and groceries 
  • Student loan repayment assistance
  • Emergency savings help
  • Financial wellness benefits

What are the advantages of lifestyle benefits? 

Lifestyle benefits are rapidly becoming the future of employee benefits. Here are several strong reasons to support that fact, which represent the advantages of offering a lifestyle benefits program:

1. Lifestyle benefits help give your company a competitive edge among current and future talent

Most companies already offer competitive compensation ranges and standard benefits like PTO and medical, dental, and vision benefits. So, how can you stand out?

Offering lifestyle spending accounts has emerged as a powerful way for employers to differentiate themselves in a crowded hiring market while allowing them to stay true to themselves.

2. Lifestyle benefits directly impact employee engagement and retention, two persistent people challenges with moving targets

Even companies with very generous overall benefits packages can suffer from low employee engagement and productivity.

Offering employee lifestyle benefits that are customized to your people’s unique needs is hugely beneficial for companies wanting to increase employee engagement and retention in this current climate and in the long term as workplace conditions evolve. 

(By the way, if you're interested in learning how our customers achieve 90+% engagement rates with lifestyle benefits, we'd be happy to show you.)

3. Lifestyle benefits promote an inclusive company culture

Now more than ever companies have the responsibility to not only prioritize creating diverse and inclusive workplaces but also put action behind those intentions.

Lifestyle benefits can be designed in a way that addresses all of the needs of your diverse workforce, whether that means supporting an employee who’s a 22-year-old recent graduate who lives in the city with a cat or a 55-year-old executive with three kids and a home in the suburbs. Lifestyle benefits, particularly in the form of flexible perk stipends, are ideal for that type of personalization and inclusivity. 

4. Lifestyle benefits are a smart financial decision, as they are relatively inexpensive compared to salary

There are many reasons you might not want to or be able to offer a pay increase to employees. When increasing their compensation isn’t an option, offering meaningful lifestyle benefits can be powerfully effective in making them feel supported - sometimes even more than a simple pay bump - while also being very cost-effective for you, especially if you use a lifestyle benefits platform like Compt to reduce the administrative burden. 

This trend towards expanded and unique employee lifestyle perks and benefits - and away from the cookie-cutter basic benefits packages - has been a long time in coming. Employees have been wanting more personalization and flexibility in their total compensation for years.


In previous years, studies revealed about 60% of people considered benefits and perks to be a major factor when deciding to accept a job offer and 80% of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise. 

When was the last time you conducted an employee benefits survey to see what your people want? Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate and revamp your outdated perks programs to better suit your employees' lifestyle needs. And speaking of the now... here's a helpful resource detailing employee engagement ideas for remote workers.

[Comparing employee perks platform vendors? Check out our guide, Comparing Perks Software: Everything You Need to Know]


How much do your current perk vendors cost? How can you save money?

Input some basic data into our Perks Vendor Cost Calculator to identify how much you're spending on all of your vendors and how much you can save by consolidating with Compt.


Examples of employee lifestyle benefits offered by top companies

The list of companies offering flexible and inclusive lifestyle benefits is ever-growing, but here are a handful that stand out as great examples: 


Google introduced a $1,000 work-from-home stipend to help support their employees’ remote work lifestyle during the pandemic (and so have other tech leaders like Facebook. Twitter, and Shopify). This came in addition to the many other lifestyle benefits Google already offered to all of its employees across its many locations, from $500 in “baby bonding bucks” for new parents to massage credits and free fitness classes. 


Starbucks has long been known to offer great benefits for its employees. One example of a lifestyle benefit offered is a $500-$1,000 tuition reimbursement benefit for its employees. 


Employees of Deloitte have the benefit of personalizing what health and wellness mean to them through an annual well-being stipend of $500.  


Eventbrite supports employee health and lifestyle choices by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend as a lifestyle benefit, which employees can use on anything from gym dues to juice cleanses. They also introduced a home office stipend as part of their remote work perks to offset the work from home cost


Takes lifestyle benefits to a new level by leveraging the power of stipends: they have a $1,200 annual wellness benefit (to use on massages or other physical therapy), a $300 annual wellness benefit on top of that, and $100 monthly wellness benefit to put towards gym memberships, classes, etc.


LinkedIn - which knows a thing or two about the workplace - offers some great lifestyle benefits to its U.S. and Canadian employees, which include an annual $5,000 stipend for professional development related to their job and a $1,800 wellness allowance. They also offer additional stipends to support working from home. 

Great Place to Work

Great Place to Work, a true leader and authority in workplace culture, rolls up all of the possible categories of lifestyle benefits and makes them eligible for employees in one flexible stipend called CARE4U. With this lifestyle benefit, which works as a flexible perk stipend, GPTW employees have a $5,000 annual stipend to spend on whatever they need across categories. 

There are many more examples of companies doing this successfully. If you want to hear what our customers are doing, click here to talk with a Compt lifestyle benefits specialist.


Learn even more about the benefits of Lifestyle Stipends

Download the free eBook to find out why lifestyle spending accounts have become the most common new benefit for companies competing for top talent.


The different ways to offer lifestyle benefits

There are a number of ways you can offer lifestyle benefits. You actually might already be offering some sort of lifestyle benefit that can easily be turned into a more thought-out lifestyle benefits program. Some things that fall into this category are a professional development stipend, a gym membership reimbursement, or free meals and snacks.

Regardless of whether you offer any of the above or have offered any type of lifestyle benefits before, getting started is easy. Here are two main ways to offer them:

1. Offer individual lifestyle benefits focused on one area at a time

Like the examples listed above like Starbucks and their Tuition Reimbursement program or Eventbrite’s Wellness Stipend, you can identify specific categories you'd like to build benefits around in your company and focus your efforts on those one at a time.

This is something that many companies who have shifted to remote work indefinitely have already done using stipends: they've set up their lifestyle benefits through category-specific stipends such as a health and wellness stipend, a learning and development stipend, and meal plan and grocery stipends.

This is a snapshot of what Webflow's health & wellness lifestyle stipend benefits look like with Compt. Click here to talk with a Compt lifestyle benefits specialist to learn more.

2. Offer all-encompassing stipends to support a diverse set of lifestyle benefits

If you have several areas of employee needs that you'd like to cover with lifestyle benefits but don't want the complication of managing multiple benefits vendors, your best bet is to set up all-encompassing lifestyle stipends that apply to the spending categories that matter to you. That could include anything from the ones mentioned above as well as family, pets, charitable giving, travel, internet/cell phone, work-from-home equipment, and more.

Doing your lifestyle benefits this way allows you to cover the gamut of needs, situations, and preferences of your people. As a people operations professional, you know firsthand that what someone needs today might be different next month, and will likely be different next year. This flexible approach allows your lifestyle benefits to evolve with your people.

Here at Compt, most of our customers who set up lifestyle benefits with our stipend software select one or more items from the following broad-based categories for their employees to spend in.

And this isn't representative of all of our 22 categories! For example, it doesn't include stipends like a birthday or anniversary bonus. But taking a broad-based helps avoid the headache of keeping track of thousands of vendors and initiatives and instead gives your employees autonomy of choice.

If you're more familiar with a vendor-based approach and need some convincing, here is a helpful Perks Vendor Cost Calculator to see what a difference going vendorless makes.

Editor's note: This guide was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Sarah Bedrick

Chief Marketing Officer

Prior to Compt, Sarah worked at HubSpot for 6+ years, where she helped to build, scale, and grow the HubSpot Academy division. She is obsessed with understanding what makes a company culture great, being a career and life coach to people in tech, and creating cherished memories with her husband and two young kids. Her favorite Compt stipend category is Health & Wellness.


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