» 2012 » 04Those extra perks companies use to keep people smiling (and working for them) » HR Daily Report

Those extra perks companies use to keep people smiling (and working for them)

April 23, 2012 by Lee James
Posted in: Benefits, Employment, Management, Pay, Special Report

Why would an employer — as part of its benefits package — foot the bill for free oil changes in employees’ cars or subsidize onsite haircuts for $4?

These aren’t meaningless giveaways, HR pros note. They serve two important purposes: Retain and attract top talent.

Of course, it doesn’t compare with the late 1990s, when Internet start-up money fueled dozens of exotic perks and privileges — like an indoor basketball court — before the tech blowout leveled whole businesses and left hundreds of scooter riders without a place to roll.

Today’s perks are a bit tamer — maybe even more practical.

Almost all are sensible, and many encourage more responsible attitudes toward the environment.


  • S.C. Johnson offers the free oil changes, and also gives retired employees free memberships in the company’s fitness center.
  • Timberland ponies up a $3,000 subsidy to serve as a down payment on a hybrid car.
  • Qwiki encourages commuters to expense train tickets — and the company also offers to buy you a bicycle or help with your gas expenses.

Some companies put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting employees’ families and family life:

  • People who work for Deloitte are provided webcam access to check on their kids in daycare.
  • Pregnant workers get one month of paid leave before the baby arrives, if they work for Eli Lilly.
  • Employees get up to $10,000 toward adoption or fertility treatment expenses at American Century Investment.
  • During those hectic first three months after birth, Google will reimburse $500 for takeout meals.
  • On-site Lamaze and breastfeeding classes — and lactation rooms — are benefits offered by Amgen.

There are also reimbursement programs to help better both people and the world we live in.

  • Drive 10 years with a flawless record, and Container Store (in Texas) will pay you $5,000.
  • J.M. Smucker (the jam people) will reimburse 100% of employees’ college tuition bills — without a cap.
  • Outfitter Patagonia employees who want to volunteer for any green, non-profit group get two weeks of paid leave.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that HR at your company should be coming up with brilliant ways to reward do-gooders or expectant parents, or that these are the only worthwhile ideas.

You would know better than anyone what perks — if any — might be worth prying loose for employees at your company.

Does your company offer any special incentives like these for employees? Tell us in the box below.

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