There used to be a time when employers called all the shots. They'd offer you a job, toss in some vacation time -- maybe even health insurance and retirement assistance if you were lucky -- and that was that. You'd gratefully accept it and work there forever. That doesn't cut it any longer. Today's workers are more selective about their jobs, and certainly don't hesitate to look around for better deals. So employers have responded by coming up with ever more creative, desirable benefits that might make an employee pause before polishing up his or her resume.
High-tech companies in particular are pioneers in this regard. Staffed largely by young workers who work hard and play hard, high-tech employers began offering perks like free meals, on-site gyms and laundry facilities to attract and retain talented employees. It worked, and spurred on other companies, like the ones on this list, to follow suit -- and see if they could top what's out there.
A London-based ad agency, Fox Kalomaski, gives workers an extra paid day off in December for pre-holiday-party beauty treatments. The firm, which introduced this perk in 2009, dubbed it "Botox Leave" after execs heard that, rather than spending the day getting haircuts or facials, a large number of their employees were actually using it to receive Botox injections [source: Business Management Daily].
Botox Leave is part of a trend among U.K. employers toward giving employees time off for cosmetic procedures so they don't falsely claim sick days instead. Companies are granting employees anywhere from a few hours off to an entire day, as Fox Kalomaski does [source: Plastic Surgery Practice].
Employees of Clif Bar and Company, a nutrition business that produces popular energy bars and drinks, not only get access to an on-site state-of-the-art gym, bouldering wall, two yoga/dance studios and nutritional counseling, but they're allowed to work out 30 minutes every workday, or 2.5 hours each week, while on the clock -- meaning they're getting paid to exercise. And that's far from all. Employees also receive the following:
- Reimbursements of up to $350 for athletic competition entry frees (marathons, triathlons, century rides and the like)
- Subsidized, on-site massage and chiropractic services
- Access to a fleet of in-house cruisers they can ride to run errands or bike to lunch
- Use of on-site showers, plus a towel service
- Free life coaching (six visits per year) [source: Outside]
With benefits like these -- and the above list is far from comprehensive -- is it any surprise that Clif Bar has a 96 percent employee retention rate [source: Finney]?
Imagine being able to take as many vacations days as you'd like, whenever you wish. Seems crazy, but more companies offer this benefit than you probably realize. The trend started in the 1990s, but gained steam more recently, especially among white-collar, high-tech workers. While plans differ by employers, in general, employees who have this benefit are allowed to take time off whenever they want to. The catch -- for those who may consider it one -- is that you have to make sure projects get finished and any specific job targets are met. Whether that means you work some weekends, take your smartphone with you on your trip or train a colleague to perform critical functions while you're gone to make sure job goals are met, it generally doesn't matter to the boss [source: Shellenbarger].
Interestingly, many employers report that workers with unlimited vacation time don't really take more time off than they would under a more traditional vacation system. Actually, maybe that's not so interesting. What's probably more fascinating is that, according to a 2010 survey by Expedia, only 38 percent of U.S. workers with traditional paid time off plans use all of their available vacation time -- even though the vast majority of those surveyed said their bosses were supportive of them using all of their vacation days [source: Shellenbarger].
These days, it's not uncommon for companies with great perks to offer employees free meals. But financial research and software firm FactSet Research Systems, based in Norwalk, Conn., ups the ante by holding regular summer barbecues and ice cream socials for its employees, plus schedules special visits from area food trucks. Just what kind of food trucks? Well, there's a pie truck, cupcake truck, Chinese food truck and even a SuperDuperWeenie truck. Can't forget the cheese truck, which putters up with such mouth-watering food options as grilled cheese sandwiches, gazpacho and watermelon. And yes, FactSet offers workers the oh-so-pedestrian daily free lunch, too. All of these tasty perks landed the company the 75th spot on Fortune's 2012 "100 Best Companies to Work For" list [source: CNN].
Company officials are only too aware of the health problems associated with overconsumption, though, so to work off all of those calories, there's also a complimentary gym on the premises [source: Matthews].
Who hasn't dreamed of pawning off all of their annoying, time-consuming errands? If you work at S.C. Johnson & Son in Racine, Wis., you can. All employees at the firm, which produces household products for cleaning, storage, auto care and more, have access to an on-site, subsidized concierge service. While some companies' concierge services are for standard tasks such as picking up dry cleaning or dropping off packages at the post office, the S.C. Johnson concierges tackle all sorts of chores, including taking your car in for an oil change (they get to sit and wait for your car in the smelly garage, not you), shopping around for the best deals on car insurance, house-sitting and even -- are you sitting down? -- standing in line for tickets to see your favorite performer in concert [source: Brox].
How to Create an Action Plan for a New Job
- Brox, Denene. "14 Companies with Incredible Employee Perks." Salary. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.salary.com/14-companies-with-incredible-employee-perks/
- Business Management Daily. "What's Working: 8 unique employee benefit programs." Dec. 8, 2009. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/10280/whats-working-8-unique-employee-benefits-programs
- CNN Money. "Best benefits: Unusual Perks." Feb. 6, 2012. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2012/benefits/unusual.html
- CNN Money. "Whitewater rafting? 12 unusual perks." Jan. 20, 2012. (Feb. 8, 2012) http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/pf/jobs/1201/gallery.best-companies-unusual-perks.fortune/index.html
- Finney, Michael. "Odd perks help retain employees at companies." ABC Local. Nov. 25, 2011. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=8445372
- Harbeke, Mark. "5 Atypical Employee Benefit Offerings." Inc. Jan. 10, 2011. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.inc.com/guides/2011/01/5-atypical-employee-benefit-offerings-of-the-2010-top-small-company-workplaces.html
- Lloyd, Lauren. "California, The Land Of 'Awesome Employee Perks.'" LAist. Aug. 8, 2011. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://laist.com/2011/08/08/california_the_land_of_awesome_employee_perks.php
- Lowe's. "Lowe's Expands Benefits With World-Class Cleveland Clinic Care." Feb. 16, 2010 (Feb. 8, 2012) http://media.lowes.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=2942
- Ludden, Jennifer. "Unlimited Vacation Time Not A Dream for Some." NRP. Aug. 12, 2010. (Feb. 8, 2012) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129137542
- Maling, Brittany. "Building Company Loyalty With Unusual Benefits." HR World. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.hrworld.com/features/build-loyalty-unusual-benefits/
- Matthews, Christopher. "The 10 Best (and Most Unusual) Employee Perks." Time Business. Jan. 24, 2012. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://business.time.com/2012/01/25/the-10-best-and-most-unusual-employee-perks/?iid=biz-main-lede#10-workplaces-and-the-perks-that-make-them-great
- Money-Zine. "Top Employee Benefits." (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.money-zine.com/Career-Development/Finding-a-Job/Top-Employee-Benefits/
- Outside. "50 Best Places to Work." Aug. 15, 2011. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/best-jobs/50-Best-Places-to-Work.html
- Plastic Surgery Practice. "Companies Implement Botox Leave as Incentive for Employees." (Feb. 8, 2012) http://www.plasticsurgerypractice.com/news/2009-01-16_01.asp
- Schappel, Christian. "Heartache leave -- and 8 other unusual benefits." HR Morning. Jan. 10, 2010. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.hrmorning.com/heartache-leave-and-8-other-unusual-benefits/
- Shellenbarger, Sue. "Unlimited Vacation, but Can You Take It?" Wall Street Journal. July 20, 2011. (Feb. 8, 2012) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304203304576446303194747300.html
- Society for Human Resource Management. "2011 Employee Benefits." (Feb. 7, 2012) http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Documents/2011_Emp_Benefits_Report.pdf
- Taylor, Beth. "Microsoft, employees collaborate to craft autism benefit." Biz Journals. May 12, 2002. (Feb. 8, 2012) http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2002/05/13/focus6.html?page=all
- Toledo Business Journal. "Unusual Employee Benefits Attract, Retain." Aug. 1, 2009. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.toledobiz.com/Files/0911%20TAHRA/hr_expert_tahra_unusual_benefits.html
- Williams, Clint. "7 companies with unique employee health benefits." Mother Nature Network. Feb. 2, 2012. (Feb. 6, 2012) http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/stories/7-companies-with-unique-employee-health-benefits
- WJLA. "WeddingWire offers unlimited vacation time to employees." Dec. 28, 2011. (Feb. 8, 2012) http://www.wjla.com/articles/2011/12/weddingwire-offers-unlimited-vacation-time-to-employees-70779.html