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Attracting Talent and Increasing Company Loyalty: 5 Unusual Employee Benefits

How much do benefits mean to you when looking for a new job? From an employer’s perspective, the goal of the job hunt is to attract the best talent for the position—and to hire that talent before he or she is lured away by a competitor. Offering good benefits and perks is one way a company can hook those great candidates and keep them for the long haul.

Most full-time employees expect at least minimal benefits from their employers. Standard offerings usually include a mix of health insurance, retirement plans, and vacation time. But even something as simple as getting to wear jeans to the office or working from home a few days a month can have a significant impact on morale and company loyalty.

Some companies go beyond the norm and get really creative with the benefits and perks they provide. Here are a few examples:

  • Along with other great benefits, toy companies Hasbro and Mattel both give their employees a half day on Friday every week of the year.
  • California-based Schools Financial Credit Union allows any of its employees to bring their newborns to work until the children are six months old. According to the vice president of marketing at the company, the babies cause little distraction, and since the parents can continue performing most of their work duties, the company doesn’t have to hire temps or train new people.
  • Netflix gives all its salaried employees unlimited vacation time: as long as the job gets done, employees can take off whatever time they want, whenever they want. Though unlimited vacation has its pros and cons and isn’t practical in many cases (such as hourly retail jobs), a 2011 survey shows that about 2 percent of employers in the U.S. offer such a work environment, up from 1 percent in 2010.
  • Want a free car wash? Go work for Google!

    Want a free car wash? Go work for Google!

    IGN Entertainment distributes bonuses to employees through a system called “viral pay.” Twice a year, employees hand out tokens to coworkers they believe deserve recognition. These tokens then translate into each employee’s bonus. The system allows employees to reward their peers and motivates everyone to work harder for more tokens in the future.

  • Google is famous for offering great benefits. Some of the more unusual ones include access to an on-site doctor, other on-site services such as dry cleaning and car washes, free lunch and dinner, financial planning classes, and roller hockey.

Of course, not all companies have the resources to provide unique employee benefits such as these. Nevertheless, any business can offer little extras to their employees to make them feel valued and part of a community.

What job perks have you received that improved your work experience? In a perfect world, which unusual benefits would you want the most? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit to clipart.com.


Rachel Hamsmith

When not writing for the blog, Rachel is a data entry specialist at QLP. She spends most of her free time consuming a variety of geeky TV shows, movies, and books, as well as funny cat videos and other Internet oddities. Otherwise, she moonlights as an editor for a literary magazine and tries to spend as much quality time as she can with friends and family. You can also connect with Rachel on Google+.

Comments

  1. Bret Bonnet

    How about arcade basketball?!?!?

    The following:
    http://qualitylogoproducts.com/u/z6k8e7/

    is coming to a cubicle near you QLP! :)

    • Jaimie Smith

      Bret that would be awesome!! I would totally dominate!!

      • Eric

        You best be serious! (Air Hockey would also be a more-than-welcome choice). Just sayin’. :)

        • Ness

          I’m all for any arcade games in the office! :)

    • Rachel

      This would rock!

      • Jenna Markowski

        I support Eric’s motion for Air Hockey whole-heartedly.

        • Amanda

          Ping Pong!!!!!

  2. Jenna Markowski

    This is an interesting post, Rachel! I can’t say I’m at all surprised that Google offers some extensive benefits. Dry cleaning and car washes? Roller hockey? They’ve got so much money it makes me physically ill.

    I think IGN’s concept of “viral pay” is a really cool idea, but as an extremely competitive person I would probably get pretty stressed out about it, haha. Plus, I wonder if it has caused any unnecessary drama or rivalries among co-workers.

    Who wouldn’t get behind unlimited vacation time or half days every Friday? That rules. It’s nice to hear about major corporations cutting their employees a break. :)

    • Rachel

      I agree that the viral pay could probably create some unwanted side effects regarding drama/rivalries. I think when done right, though, it could work! The article I linked to says IGN has been doing this for at least two years, and everything’s done anonymously, so I’m sure that helps. I am curious what the employees really think of the program, though!

      Agreed on the rest of your points, too! Thanks for commenting, Jenna. :)

  3. Eric

    ROLLER HOCKEY?!?!?

    Forget the sleep “pods.” That’s pretty sweet. Crazy as it is to say it, remind me of something I never thought I’d say (that I actually said the other day): “I miss gym.” Was nice to have a physical outlet during the day, and get to know and bond with the folks I went to school with over a game of badminton, softball, what have you. So long as it isn’t basketball. So God help me if it was basketball.

    Love this post, and I’m going to try and not leave a novella for a comment. My favorite perk, probably would be the unlimited vacation time. Sure, who wouldn’t be opposed, but I think if you’d organized and structured enough a workplace…who wouldn’t work his or her butt off knowing they could spare themselves a few extra days at the office?

    Great post, Rachel. Rea interesting read!

    • Eric

      Real* IE jumped the gun on that “send” thing.

    • Rachel

      Well, at least one of us misses gym … I can’t say I agree with you there, haha. But to each his own. :)

      Who doesn’t love the idea of unlimited vacation time??? Although you suggest a good point: the structure and organization of your workplace first needs to be able to handle such a perk, and your employees need to be self-disciplined enough to get all their work done around that unlimited vacation. Gotta work hard in order to play hard!

      Glad you liked the post, Eric! :)

  4. Jaimie Smith

    Rachel, this was an awesome post!! The unlimited vacation time? Holy Shit!! thats awesomee!! it makes me wonder though, how many times they have fun into problems with this, like people taking a lot of days off, and still not getting much done. Im assuming Netflix’s employees are all real hard workers then. I def would work hard for that–not that i dont already :)
    This was really an interesting post, Rachel. I’m glad you did the research and were able to share! :)

    • Rachel

      Yeah, I think unlimited vacation is one of those things that can go really well or not so well. It all depends on the culture of the business and how invested the employees are in the company and their work. Definitely an awesome perk when done well, of course! :)

      • david k waltz

        I ran across a discussion group where the initiator asked other’s experience about going to the “so long as the work gets done” vacation model (if I remember where that was, I’ll send him this way).

        My comment in that group was that this requires a lot of trust on both sides. There is an incentive on the employer’s side to load up work on existing employees so they don’t have to hire extra ones, so a manager might think “so and so is out too much, i’m going to give them more to do”.

        From the employees side, if there are important things – annual family vacations, weddings, etc. – that are “must-haves” they need to feel secure that they can get those things even when vacation time is not explicitly provided.

        Thanks!

        • Rachel

          Great point about how important trust is on both sides in an unlimited vacation arrangement. It’s really going to depend on communication between employer and employee about what’s expected. I imagine there needs to be a lot of trust and understanding among coworkers too, so that any employee doesn’t feel guilty about taking vacation time that he/she has earned while other workers are still, well, working.

          Thanks for stopping by and commenting, David! :)

  5. Amy Swanson

    My dad’s company does “flex time” where they work an extra hour or something each day, but then every other Friday they get the day off (with pay). I guess that was a pretty common thing back in the day (in the 1970′s when he was applying) but now he says it’s rare that companies offer that. Craziness!

    I consider the fact that I can wear jeans or sweatpants to work without judgment or fear of getting written up to be a major perk. As much as I love wearing heels, I’m pretty sure my feet are going to thank me when I’m an old lady and can still walk properly, haha.

    • Rachel

      Love that “flex time” schedule idea! Also, I totally agree that wearing jeans/whatever to work is an excellent perk. I absolutely prefer it over wearing heels and dressy clothes. :)

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    I love getting to wear jeans to work every day! It not only makes the workplace more relaxing and the employees more comfortable – but it’s saved me a ton of money on “professional” attire.

    My dad also has a flex time system at his company. As long as they work 40 hours a week, and at least 5 hours a day, they can work whatever hours they want (within reason). So if you want to leave two hours early on Wednesday for a concert, you can just work an extra hour on Monday and Tuesday.

    I love the half day Fridays and the unlimited vacation time – but really, any perk that lets me have a little control over my work hours is heavenly! :)

    • Rachel

      I’m definitely saving the money on traditional “work” clothes, too. Gotta love being able to wear a geeky Indiana Jones t-shirt AND pink fuzzy slippers to work!

      I guess your dad and Amy’s dad should hang out and share their flex time experiences. :) And I agree, it’s nice to have some control over your work hours. Thanks for commenting, Mandy! :)

    • Amanda

      That kind of flex time sounds awesome Mandy!! Growing up with small business owners in our family, something like that was just unheard of. It’s nice that more people today are getting extra flexibility in their work schedules. =)

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    I find it a little difficult to believe that newborn babies in a work environment would cause “little distraction.” If I had to hear an infant whining throughout the day at my job, I’d lose my mind. It’s not that I have anything against babies, and I understand that most mothers would relish the opportunity to bring their infant to work… but I just don’t know if I could handle having them around all day. I guess you could say I’m just not a fan. (SIDE NOTE: It’ll be a long while before I have kids.)

    Very cool post, Rachel! Companies are really getting generous with their benefits nowadays.

    • Candice J.

      Newborns and infants cry a lot less than you think Joe! And when they are with their mom they hardly cry at all unless something is needed like food or a new diaper! I’d imagine that it would actually be a lot less hectic and distracting than you think. I know I would be OVER the moon if I had the opportunity to do that with my daughter or future children. You’d just have to give it a chance! :-) Babies are awesome! TRUST ME!!

      • Rachel

        It really is such a great benefit for moms and dads. Plus, the company doesn’t have to spend money on a temp or a new hire. Sounds like a great plan to me! Thanks for your perspective, Candice. :)

    • Rachel

      I agree, Joe — it seems like bringing babies to work would absolutely be distracting. But that company has “hosted almost 80 infant over 10 years,” so I guess it’s not so bad, or else they’d stop allowing it! I imagine a lot would depend on the company culture and environment as well. Still, a pretty awesome perk from the parents’ perspective!

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Joe, even if you’re not a fan of babies. ;)

  8. Jaimie Smith

    Amy I totally agree!! I love knowing I can wear whatever I want here, especially on the days I wake up and just feel like dressing comfy. There are some days where I just wear a hoodie and my hair back in a messy bun (like today) and then after work a friend or family member will see me and be like “umm did you really look like that at work today?” ill just be like yeppp! :)

    • Jaimie Smith

      that post was supposed to be in reply to amy’s lol

    • Rachel

      It’s nice to have the option of wearing comfy clothes on days you don’t feel like looking presentable, but then to also be able to dress up a little nicer when you’re in the mood. Hooray for the dress code (or lack thereof) here! :)

  9. Alex Brodsky

    Very cool, Rachel.

    Following Eric’s desire for a physical outlet through the day, something I’ve heard companies are beginning to offer is in-office yoga classes a couple times a week. It’s a stress-free way to relax and calm yourself for the stresses of the average work week.

    And then to help your muscles recover after a tough yoga class, a massage chair would be pretty sweet

    • Rachel

      Well, Google has both fitness classes (perhaps yoga is included in there) AND massage therapy available to employees. So, there you go! :)

  10. Amanda

    Great post!! Benefits and perks are so important-they can make or break a job decision in some instances. I think health insurance, and adequate vacation time are the most important to offer employees. But other things like dress code/free lunches/etc are a sweet bonus! Those little things are what make employees stick around and keep smiling! =)

    • Rachel

      Agreed on all accounts! Benefits, both great and small, can really be deciding factors in whether or not a job is right for you — and they continue to be important after a job begins. Glad you liked the post, Amanda. :)

  11. Jen

    I think all of the perks you mentioned are awesome. I would love to bring my dog to work everyday. I loved having Lola in the office for a few weeks :) I also like our relaxed dress code, the impromptu bags tournaments, and our fun holiday parties. We have a great work atmosphere here at QLP!

    Great post Rachel!

  12. Jill Tooley

    Cool examples! I’d gladly take any of these perks, that’s for sure. The perpetual half-day Fridays sound wonderful. :) But, like others said, I’m quite happy with the perks we have at QLP, too. I love the relaxed (but not TOO relaxed) atmosphere…it makes me much more productive. The dress clothes were one of the things that got to me about working in the financial world — since I rolled an ankle a few years ago, high heels aren’t really my strong point.

    I’d be curious to find out which of these perks provide the best overall satisfaction. As in, would people prefer free car washes and massages over flexible vacation time, if given the opportunity? I guess everyone’s different… Anyway, thanks for sharing this. It’s nice to see what other companies are providing their employees!

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