You probably wouldn’t choose a job solely for the fringe benefits. But if you landed a spot with a company that sweetened the usual employment benefits package with a little lagniappe, you might start thinking: I could get used to this.
That’s what employers competing to recruit and retain top talent are hoping for when they offer employee perks that set them apart from the crowd, says Scott Hamilton, managing director of the human resources and compensation consulting practice at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Itasca, Illinois.
Hamilton also has noticed a movement among companies to offer a smorgasbord of employment benefits from which workers make their own selections.
“The biggest trend I’m seeing is one where the burden of the employer trying to pick things that may or may not be appreciated by the workforce … is starting to move to the employees.” Hamilton says.
Beyond employee perks in formal benefits packages are unusual workplace amenities employers provide to keep workers happy.
Check out some of the enticements employers are dangling in front of workers to reel them in and keep them on board.
Wellness programs are growing at the workplace nationwide, but not many employees have immediate access to a doctor at the office.
Employees of Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City and Cisco’s San Jose, California, location can see their primary care physician, eye doctor or physical therapist without leaving the work site. Both companies have on-site health centers. In addition to its LifeConnections Health Center & Pharmacy in San Jose, which offers acupuncture, chiropractic therapy and sports medicine, Cisco also has a telemedicine center at its Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, campus that lets patients consult with doctors and nurses long distance. A Walgreens subsidiary runs both Cisco health facilities.
About 7 percent of employers have on-site medical centers, according to the 2014 Employee Benefits report from the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM. Twenty percent have an on-site fitness center, while about one-third subsidize or reimburse fitness center memberships off-site.
About 39 percent of adults care for a sick or elderly family member, and many try to maintain full-time jobs as well. Wouldn’t it be great to get some help? Some employers are helping to lift the burden.
Caregivers get welcome help at places like Johnson & Johnson and Duke University, two of 17 employers highlighted as case studies in a March 2012 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Johnson & Johnson provides a free consultation with a geriatric care manager, help with coordinating services, support for respite care and flexible paid time off. Duke University employees can participate in ongoing caregivers’ support groups and lunchtime seminars on elder care. The best part: They can partake of free elder care consultation through the Duke Center for Aging, an expert in family caregiving and Alzheimer’s disease.
Only 1 percent of all U.S. employers provide geriatric counseling, according to the SHRM report, while 5 percent offer elder care referral services. Less than 1 percent provide access to backup elder care services.
For pet lovers, a boss who lets them take their beloved pooch to work on special days is great. An employer who helps foot the vet bill and pays for the chow is even better.
A growing number of employers, from accounting firms to universities, are including pet insurance on their lists of optional employment benefits. Providers include the ASPCA and such companies as Veterinary Pet Insurance, Petplan and Healthy Paws. Currently about 6 percent of employers offer pet health insurance, according to SHRM.
For example, Purdue University offers discounts on pet products, as well as pet insurance benefits that subsidize treatments, surgeries, lab fees and X-rays.
Some employees are getting extra green for going green. Cox Enterprises employees who install solar panels on their homes are eligible for a $500 grant from Cox and a $500 discount from the vendor SolarCity in the states where that company operates: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and the District of Columbia. Employees located outside those areas are still eligible for the $500 incentive from Cox, says company spokeswoman Elizabeth Olmstead.
Bank of America employees can get a $1,000 discount if they install a solar power system through SolarCity. The payoff is even better for Bank of America workers who purchase eco-friendly cars. Through its Low-Carbon Vehicle Reimbursement Program, the bank pays its U.S. and U.K. employees $3,000, less taxes, for the purchases of new hybrid, compressed natural gas or highway-electric-capable cars. More than 7,200 employees have taken up their employer’s offer for a new green car.
What’s more stressful than doing your own taxes? How about being a tax consultant for hundreds of corporate clients? To keeps its staff relaxed and limber, the CPA firm Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith in Birmingham, Alabama, provides free massages during tax season.
In fact, a slew of massage services — some with clever names like That’s the Spot Massage Therapy and Massage Kneads — are marketing themselves to corporate clients, offering such on-site perks as chair massages and chair yoga, as well as discounted in-house treatments.
Massage therapy is just one of the little luxuries making certain workplaces stand out. Chesapeake Energy indulges its staff with four on-site gourmet restaurants, while software engineering company Evernote treats its employees to catered meals and high tea. A number of employers, including Google, Mercedes-Benz, Shell Oil and Campbell’s Soup, provide concierge services for employees who need to book dinner reservations, have their dry cleaning picked up or delegate a host of other errands.
Dropping the tots off at school before work gets a lot easier when the school is at work. Campbell Soup Co.’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, has an on-site Family Center that includes a kindergarten, a day care center and a summer program.
Toymaker Mattel has a child development center at its El Segundo, California, headquarters that provides all workers employer-subsidized care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Full-time employees at Mattel get paid time off to go to PTA meetings and other school-related events.
According to SHRM, 2 percent of employers offer a subsidized child care center, and the same percentage have an unsubsidized facility.
Another noteworthy corporate child care benefit is at Microsoft, which covers autism therapy for the children of its employees.