Dream jobs aren’t just about inspirational day-to-day responsibilities. Among the best companies to work for in 2017, job board Indeed’s SVP Paul D’Arcy points out, “While compensation and job security are always top of mind for employees, we are seeing strong company culture and sense of community becoming just as much of a priority.” A 2016 survey from Glassdoor bore this out as more than half (57%) of over 2,000 respondents said benefits and perks are among their top considerations before accepting a job.
More recently, Glassdoor’s poll of 750 hiring decision makers revealed that three out of four said their No. 1 challenge was attracting quality candidates. No wonder some companies are going above and beyond the traditional benefits package (health insurance, 401K, paid vacation, and parental leave) and offering their employees something more.
That runs the gamut from unlimited vacation to free lunch (Nest Bedding shells out around $60K per year to provide free lunch for all of their 24 employees, every day), to more next-level benefits such as 72 and Sunny offering employees discounts on cloning their pets via the third-party staff rewards platform Fond. Here are some of the more eye-popping, generous, and competitive ones we found.
Companies such as Visa, SAP, Salesforce, GE Appliances, NVIDIA, Tribune Media, Slack, Instacart, and OpenTable, among others, offer an at-home, physician-ordered DNA test that screens for genetic mutations linked to hereditary cancer and high cholesterol through Color. Although none of the participating companies were willing to comment on the cost, the kits run about $250 each. So for the likes of NVIDIA, with a staff in excess of 10,000 workers, providing it for free is a significant investment.
At Bulletproof, (a company that sells various products but is best known for their coffee), employees are offered biohacking benefits to help them improve heart, mind, and body. According to a spokesperson, these include a five-day neurofeedback “experience” using custom brain mapping and monitoring equipment, Heart Rate Variability Training, and nootropics recommended by Bulletproof’s founder Dave Asprey. Each employee is credited $175 toward services and 40% off products. “While we don’t have hard numbers on how this has affected retention, we can say that most employees were drawn to BP based on this perk,” the spokesperson explains.
Premium Perks For Parents
In an age where the cost of childcare exceeds college tuition in over 30 states and costs more than rent in some others, it’s refreshing to see some employers attempting to retain the talented mothers and fathers in their workforces.
SAS offers subsidized onsite daycare and preschool for nearly 400 children, as well as a community and regional subsidy to help offset the cost of childcare for employees. “Knowing your children are receiving the best possible care while you’re at work is a huge relief,” says SAS spokesperson Shannon Heath. “It’s a virtuous cycle,” she says. “Happy employees create happy customers that impacts revenue. And more loyal employees translates to lower employee turnover: We average around 3%-5% versus an industry average of 18%.”
Other offerings meant to keep moms on the career track include a first-ever free maternity concierge service for the employees of Fifth Third Bank. This covers tasks from picking up dry cleaning to outfitting a nursery and planning kids’ birthday parties in partnership with women-owned concierge service Best Upon Request. So far, 200 female employees across all the bank’s locations are using it at a cost to the company of “over six figures.”
Since IBM blazed a trail for working mothers in 2015, more and more companies are partnering with breast milk shipping services for traveling, breastfeeding moms. Since the beginning of the year, 35 Boston Scientific employees have used Milk Stork’s service on 67 trips, shipping nearly 50 gallons of breast milk home. And since SAP launched Milk Stork this March, 930 ounces of breast milk have been sent home to employees’ babies. Milk Stork tells us that the average cost per travel day to employers is approximately $139.
Healthcare, particularly that which takes place in a patient’s home, is a 24/7 job. That’s why Alliance Homecare provides its staff with Massage Mondays. They serve between 30-40 employees and the company estimates it spends $3,000 per month to offer the benefit. “We truly believe it makes a difference in productivity, job satisfaction, and health,” an Alliance spokesperson says, “and has gone a long way in increasing employee retention.”
Phil Wilhelm, general manager of People at SHI International, tells us that the company invests about $50,000 annually to offer a comprehensive fitness program (Mindful Monday, Camp Gladiator Tuesdays, and Yoga Thursdays as well as two onsite traditional workout facilities). About 100 people per week participate, but more important than getting fit, says Wilhelm, is the camaraderie. “Many of our employees have commented that many of their work friendships have started at these programs,” he says, “We believe that workplace friendships are a key component in retention and employee productivity.”
Stacey Scott, VP of people operations at Lola, a travel startup created by Kayak cofounder Paul English, offers its staff of 53 a nutrition program with a built-in competition. The cost of $10,000 includes paying for the group program and sharing the cost for individual coaching 50/50 with employees. Scott says the most important aspect of the offering (aside from building healthy habits) is that the staffers are getting to know people they don’t necessarily work with each day.
Paid Time Off To Volunteer
Some employers, like Dunkin Brands, Bain & Company, and Salesforce, believe in the value of volunteering so much that they’re willing to pay employees to give back.
For example, Cisco’s Time2Give benefit includes five paid days for employees to volunteer as they choose. So far, 12,211 employees (or 16.5%) of approximately 72,924 total staff have taken advantage of the opportunity. This time represents an investment of nearly 2% of an employee’s salary.
Paying For Vacations
Unlimited vacation is one thing, taking the time off is quite another. Some workers feel too strapped for cash to take time for a proper vacation. Enter companies like Basecamp, which gives workers a $5,000 annual stipend for vacations.
Betabrand turns over its corporate frequent flyer miles to one lucky staffer every four to six weeks to use on free international trips. Ditto for the 175-person staff at Dialpad who vie for the prospect of winning an employee vote for going beyond in their “call of duty.” To date, they’ve sent six employees on all-expenses-paid trips.
At G Adventures, a global small-group tour company, free vacation travel is available for all full-time employees after they’ve worked at the company for a year. The idea is to familiarize themselves with the tours that can cost up to $2,500 and also covers airfare up to around $600. “Staff retention over the past five years has been strong and steady, around 86%,” the company claims.
The Tea Collection, a women-run children’s apparel brand, offers each employee an annual international travel stipend that increases each year they’re employed at the company. Annual investment in this perk for their 70 employees is between $15K-$20K a year.
While some companies are offering a stipend to help employees pay back their student loans, others are taking education in a different (and free) direction.
Software development services company Belatrix is based in Argentina but recently opened a U.S. headquarters and plans to hire nearly 100 more people in the next 18 months. Although all Belatrix employees speak English, the company invests in over 120 hours of formal training per year per employee. Belatrix has one of the lowest attrition rates in the tech industry, averaging less than 12%, attributed in part to the attention to employee development.
Credit Karma currently has over 500 employees (about 80% of the company) enrolled in their fall courses that run from September through November and are taught by other employees. Among the offerings are an Intro to Coding course for non-engineers taught by one of their senior engineers, to negotiation taught by cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer Nichole Mustard, to a management class led by Chief Product Officer Nikhyl Singhal. Lindsey Caplan, head of talent development at Credit Karma, says Credit Karma University is much more than a lunch and learn. “It also encompasses mentorship programs that help our employees develop faster here than they potentially would anywhere else.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identified ICRAVE as a company that paid for their employees to attend Burning Man. They do not.