Employee Perks Study 2021: Top Perks Employees Want This Year 

by Linda Le Phan

The year 2021 will forever be known as the year after COVID-19, the start of the Great Resignation, and one of the most pivotal years for remote and hybrid work.

And although all employees and company leaders are working through these changes together, the task of “figuring it all out” is typically falling in the laps of one group—HR and People Ops teams.

  • What will work look like in the future? 
  • How do we attract, recruit and retain talent in this new climate? 
  • What do employees actually want?

Those are some of the biggest questions HR and People Ops teams need to find solutions for.

Read on to see what Compt's latest employee perks data reveals about what employees care about most today, and what major trends are emerging in the world of employee perks.

Overview of this new perks data

We've previously published similar analysis in January and at the end of Q1, and below is the newest data from Q2 of 2021, which highlights the best from over 8,000 unique perk vendors!

Using real, anonymized employee data across tens of thousands of perk purchases on Compt, we’ll answer: 

And diving into specific employee perk categories, we'll share: 

HR teams have a lot on their plate right now in deciding on, creating, adapting, and communicating new programs for their people across all of the above categories and more.

This data will give you confidence that you're making the right decisions and creating a healthy and supportive culture for your team.

Top Employee Perk Categories 

As more and more companies are working to adapt employee perks to fit a hybrid or remote work model, knowing what perks employees are both using and enjoying the most is invaluable.

It helps HR teams: 

  1. Understand what employees would prefer to spend their money on if given a choice, and 
  2. See what trends are emerging when it comes to employee benefits and remote work.  

Here are the top 10 categories employees spent their stipends on: 

  1. Health & Wellness 24.9%
  2. Food 22.6%
  3. Productivity 17.3%
  4. Cell Phone 6.5%
  5. Internet 6.3%
  6. Professional Development 4.8%
  7. Family 3.6%
  8. Personal Development 3.2%
  9. Travel 2.8%
  10. Tech 2.7%

Top Employee Perk Vendors

Instead of only being able to choose from a short list of perks and perk vendors for things like wellness, food, or tech, employees who used Compt were able to use 8,000 unique employee perk vendors overall (up from 6,000 last quarter).

Among those thousands, these were the top vendors employees purchased from in Q2:

Top 60 employee perk vendors in Q2 2021:

  1. Amazon
  2. Verizon
  3. Uber Eats
  4. xfinity
  5. Peloton
  6. AT&T
  7. Drizly
  8. Apple
  9. Doordash
  10. Costco
  11. Trader Joe's
  12. Whole Foods
  13. Spectrum
  14. Target
  15. T-Mobile
  16. Comcast
  17. Publix
  18. Uber
  19. Chipotle
  20. Walmart
  21. Starbucks
  22. Affirm
  23. InstaCart
  24. GrubHub
  25. Nike
  26. Best Buy
  27. Safeway
  28. Google Fi
  29. Cox
  30. Hello Fresh
  31. Sprint
  32. REI
  33. King Soopers
  34. Spotify
  35. Lululemon
  36. RCN
  37. Udemy
  38. Airbnb
  39. Sprouts
  40. Audible
  41. Sweetgreen
  42. Imperfect Foods
  43. Home Depot
  44. Freshly
  45. Lyft
  46. Panera
  47. Google
  48. LifeTime Fitness
  49. CenturyLink
  50. Iberdrola
  51. American Airlines
  52. Deliveroo
  53. Navient
  54. Star Market
  55. ClassPass
  56. Kroger
  57. Optimum
  58. Planet Fitness
  59. Postmates
  60. Seamless

4 Trends in Employee Perk Spending in the First Half of 2021

As we mentioned before, this isn't the first time we've pulled this type of data (and it isn't the last!)—we also looked through thousands of employee perk stipend purchases in Q1 of this year to see what perks were popular at the start of this year.

To save you the trouble of comparing the information from that article with new data in this article, we picked out the top trends in employee stipend data that we've seen from all of it:

1. Health and wellness is consistently the most popular perk spending category

Perhaps this doesn't come as a surprise, but employees spent more in wellness perks than in any other perk category all throughout 2021.

What's important to note about this is that this wouldn't be possible if employers were only offering a corporate gym membership, or the choice of only one meditation app or class package. Doing that limits how much employees can define their own wellness journey. This type of freedom to decide on their own wellness journey is only possible when you offer employees something like a flexible wellness stipend.

2. Covering the costs of food is the next big essential employee perk

Food as a specific perk stipend category rose to 2nd most popular in Q2, which shows its popularity as a standalone perk among employees this year.

What you'll also find is employees will find a way to get their food cost covered, even when the stipend their employer has given them is marked as a different category.

For example, 40% of the top vendors listed above are food-specific retailers, meaning it's a restaurant, food or drink delivery service, or grocery store.

Also, in the family and productivity categories' top vendors lists featured later in this article, restaurants and grocery stores appear high and frequently on those individual lists as well.

So what's the key takeaway?

If you haven't already, you should think about setting up a meal stipend or a flexible all-inclusive stipend that allows your employees to get reimbursed for food costs. That's something they'll absolutely use and appreciate.

3. Employers are finally paying for internet and technology

This whole time that we've been working remotely, most employees have been footing the bill for their own internet and technology needs that are crucial for them to sustain their work. Employees have been doing this regardless of whether their company has reimbursed them for those expenses (with the exception of a small percentage of companies). This is even true in CA where, under state labor laws, employers must reimburse employees for any expenses necessary to fulfill their job duties.

More than one full year into remote work and we're finally seeing a trend of employers providing monthly internet stipends, cell phone allowances, and technology reimbursements. Cell phone and internet reimbursements were in the top 5 categories for employee perks in both Q1 and Q2 of 2021.

4. Family stipends cover all costs associated with the home

Another huge trend that has emerged this year is family related perks. Employers have recognized that supporting families isn't just about parental leave and childcare, and have answered the call by offering family stipends that can cover a wide range of employee expenses. This way, it's not just parents of children that get any sort of family support.

As it turns out, employees have used their family stipends on everything from groceries, internet, tech, utilities, home improvement, moving expenses and more.

Top Health & Wellness Vendors

Total Health & Wellness Vendors: 2,528

  1. Amazon
  2. Peloton
  3. Nike
  4. Affirm
  5. Apple
  6. Costco
  7. Lululemon
  8. REI
  9. Target
  10. LifeTime Fitness
  11. Planet Fitness
  12. ClassPass
  13. Dick's Sporting Goods
  14. Adidas
  15. Equinox
  16. Noom
  17. Fitness SF
  18. Rogue fitness
  19. Walmart
  20. Bowflex

Top Family Vendors

Total Family Vendors: 515

  1. Amazon
  2. Uber Eats
  3. Target
  4. Costco
  5. Doordash
  6. Home Depot
  7. Purple Carrot
  8. Eversource
  9. Grubhub
  10. The Mynt
  11. AT&T
  12. The Lost Sock
  13. Apple
  14. PG&E
  15. Thistle Co
  16. U-Haul
  17. Hello Fresh
  18. Joe's Pizza
  19. Postmates
  20. T-mobile

Top Food Vendors

Total Food Vendors: 2,239

  1. Drizly
  2. Uber Eats
  3. Whole Foods
  4. Publix
  5. Doordash
  6. Chipotle
  7. Starbucks
  8. Amazon
  9. Trader Joe's
  10. Costco
  11. InstaCart
  12. GrubHub
  13. Target
  14. Safeway
  15. Sweetgreen
  16. King Soopers
  17. Panera
  18. Walmart
  19. Hello Fresh
  20. Wegmans

Top Professional Development Vendors

Total Professional Development Vendors: 478

  1. Amazon
  2. Udemy
  3. Audible
  4. Coursera
  5. Apple
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Amazon
  8. Adobe
  9. Masterclass
  10. Treehouse
  11. Udacity
  12. Bloomberg
  13. Frontend Masters
  14. Grammarly
  15. Wall Street Journal
  16. A Cloud Guru
  17. LeadDev Together
  18. New York Times
  19. Pearson Vue
  20. Automotive News
  21. awwwards

For more information about this employee perks study and how we gathered the data, drop us a note!

Compt is the #1 employee stipends platform that gives your people the freedom to choose the lifestyle perks that are best for them and their always evolving needs, even when remote. Interested in learning how Compt might benefit your company? Consult with our team or request a demo.

Your cart