What is a perk? Definition and examples

A Perk is a desirable extra that comes with a position or status, as in “perks of the job.” The term is an altered, shortened version of perquisite (a thing regarded as a special right or privilege). Some organizations distinguish between perks and benefits.

father with baby as example of parental leave perk

Paid parental leave is a common perk that employers offer. Image pixabay.

The Cambridge Dictionary describes the term “perk” as “an advantage or extra thing, such as money or goods, which you are given for doing your job.” They class the word as a business term.

According to Merriam Webster, the term is short for perquisite, which comes from the Middle English for “property acquired by means other than inheritance.” The origin is perquirere, which is the Latin for “to search for thoroughly.”

Perks often contribute to a positive workplace atmosphere and can include access to special company facilities like gyms or recreational spaces.

Examples of perks

Working either as a volunteer or for a wage often comes with desirable extras. The following sentences list some examples:

  • Volunteering with Table Tennis England comes with several perks. One of these is the opportunity to win free tickets to special events.
  • Employees of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford enjoy a subsidized canteen with good food and a superb view of the river Avon.
  • Outdoor apparel company Patagonia, Inc. offer their employees environmental internships. This is in line with their commitment to sustainability.
  • A pension is one of the perks that presidents of the United States receive when they retire. Continued secret service protection is another.

Benefits and perks: Is there a difference?

Some organizations distinguish between benefits and perks. However, a quick browse on the Internet also reveals that there is no hard and fast rule. In many cases, the terms appear to be interchangeable.

Where a distinction occurs, it is in that benefit is more tightly defined. In support of this, some refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics definition. This states that benefits are “[n]onwage compensation provided to employees.” The Bureau goes on to refer to five categories of benefit:

  • Paid leave: including vacations, holidays, sick leave
  • Supplementary pay: for example, overtime and shift premiums
  • Retirement plans
  • Insurance, including health, life, and disability insurance
  • Legally-required benefits, such as Medicare and workers’ compensation

‘Nice to have additions’

Robert Half (RH) distinguishes between benefits and perks. The human resource consultancy defines a perk as “nice-to-have additions to an employee’s salary and benefits package.” These additions are the “icing on the cake” that can sway employees to value one employer more than another.

According to RH, the five most common perks that employers offer are:

  • Flexible scheduling and telecommuting.
  • Paid parental leave.
  • Discounts for employees, from 5% off coffees-to-go to big ticket items.
  • Free or subsidized food and beverage.
  • Paid time off for volunteering.

In addition to traditional perks, some modern companies offer unique extras such as in-house childcare services and transportation allowances.

There also appears to be a rise in employers offering wellness programs. These include financial as well as physical wellness and stress management. The support ranges from part to full payment of costs.

RH concludes that “a strong benefits and perks package is crucial for keeping your best people around.”

Perks – vocabulary and concepts

There are many words and expressions in the English language specifically related to the concept of perks. Here are some such compound phrases, their meanings, and how we can use them in a sentence:

  • Employee Perks

Benefits or extras provided to employees beyond their regular salary.
Example: “The free gym membership was one of the employee perks that attracted Jenna to the company.”

  • Job Perks

Advantages or additional benefits that come with a particular job position.
Example: “Having access to a company car and flexible work hours are some of the job perks Mark enjoys.”

  • Travel Perks

Benefits related to travel, such as upgrades or discounts, often associated with certain jobs or memberships.
Example: “As a frequent flyer, Lisa relishes the travel perks like airport lounge access and priority boarding.”

  • Perks Package

A collection of benefits and perks offered by an employer as part of an employment agreement.
Example: “The comprehensive perks package was a deciding factor in Luis’s acceptance of the job offer.”

  • Retirement Perks

Benefits provided to retired employees, often including pensions, healthcare, or discounts.
Example: “The retirement perks at her company include a generous pension plan and continued health insurance coverage.”

  • Membership Perks

Advantages or benefits given to members of a club, organization, or service.
Example: “Her credit card comes with membership perks such as cashback rewards and extended warranty services.”

Perk (verb)

The verb “to perk” means to gain in vigor and cheerfulness. It is usually followed by the word “up,” as in “to perk up.” People most commonly use it after a period of tiredness, sadness, or despondency. Here are some example sentences:

  • “He perked up after drinking the tonic.”
    This means that he became more lively and in better spirits after consuming the tonic, which presumably had a rejuvenating effect on him.
A man drinking a cup of coffee and feeling it perk him up.
Created by Market Business News using material from Bing.
  • “The students perked up at the mention of a field trip next week.”
    The students got excited about the planned field trip.
  • “She perked up once the meeting concluded, relieved that the stress was over.”
    She became happier after the stressful meeting ended.
  • “After a cup of coffee, I usually perk up and can focus on my work.”
    Coffee helps the speaker feel alert and concentrate better.

Educational Video – What is a Perk?

This interesting video, from our sister channel in YouTube – Marketing Business Network, explains what the word “Perk” means using easy-to-understand vocabulary and examples.