Small Business Financial Article

Employers Chase Creativity in Offering New Benefits and Perks

Employers Chase Creativity in Offering New Benefits and Perks

As the job market becomes more competitive for employers, it is becoming a game of one-upmanship as they try to outdo one another in offering unique benefits and perks to attract job seekers.

In a nearly full-employment economy, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain employees. It’s no longer enough to offer the traditional array of benefits-i.e., a 401(k) plan, health insurance, vacation pay, paid sick days, etc.-though job seekers are still drawn to those. To attract and retain top talent, employers must now stack the deck with more creative perks and benefits, which are viewed as icing on the cake for today’s more discerning job seekers.

The more creative employers become with their benefits and perks, it becomes a game of one-upmanship as employers try to outdo one another. Here’s a sampling of what job seekers might find out on the job hunt.

You decide when to work

That’s right. Some companies now allow employees to set their own hours, coming to work when they want to and staying for as long as they wish. Companies like Netflix, which set pay based on productivity rather than hours worked, say that as long as employees can get their job done, they can come and go as they please.

More time to play

Most people have grown accustomed to the standard one- to two-week vacation when they start with a new company. Companies like Metis Communications have upped the ante by offering three- to four-week vacations, birthdays off, a bonus vacation in December, and Fridays off during the summer. With the belief that employees who work hard should play hard, Virgin Group takes a step further by offering unlimited time off.

Family is priority

An increasing number of companies are offering family leave time, but some are taking it to the next level. American Express provides five months of paid leave in addition to six to eight weeks of paid medical leave. Facebook will not only reimburse the costs of daycare, but it will also give employees $4,000 in "baby cash" to spend on their new arrival. And that’s all on top of offering four months of paid leave. Spotify appears to be the king of paid leave at six months, with one month of flexible work hours when they return to work.

Health and wellness

Wellness benefits are growing in popularity. Microsoft offers an $800 annual "StayFit" reimbursement for the cost of a gym membership. Among the scores of benefits and perks provided by Google, the company maintains a complete healthcare apparatus on its campus, including doctors, massage and physical therapists, and chiropractors. Accenture doesn’t go that far, but it will pay for your gender reassignment surgery.

Student loan reimbursement

Student loan debt is a serious challenge for younger (and some older) employees. Many job seekers say they would prefer a benefit that helps them with their student loan over a 401(k) plan or even health insurance. PricewaterhouseCoopers is a pioneer in student loan reimbursement benefits, offering employees up to $1,200 annually for six years. NVIDIA tops all companies with annual reimbursements of $6,000 up to $30,000.

Career advancement

A majority of job seekers cite career development and advancement as one of their top priorities when choosing an employer. So, tuition reimbursement is becoming one of the fastest-growing benefits offered by employers. AT&T will pay up to $3,500 a year in tuition costs, which can reach up to $20,000. Its competitor, Verizon, pays up to $8,000 a year. Starbucks will cover the total cost of tuition for Arizona State University’s online program.

Pay to travel

In addition to offering paid vacation, some companies are offering to pay for travel expenses. Naturally, Airbnb employees get $2,000 a year to stay at one of its locations anywhere in the world. Employees of Epic Systems can earn a four-week paid sabbatical for every five years of employment, and the company will provide funds to cover travel costs.

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