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Employers Chase Creativity in Offering New Benefits and Perks

Small Business Finances �Rich Best
Rich BestRich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.

Employers Chase Creativity in Offering New Benefits and Perks

Employers Chase Creativity in Offering New Benefits and Perks

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., 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.

In fact, 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 their employees to set their own hours, coming into 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 their 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-weeks vacation when they start with a new company. Companies like Metis Communications have upped the ante by offering three- to four-week vacations to start along with birthdays off and 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 offers five months of paid leaves in addition to six to eight weeks of paid medical leave. Facebook will not only reimburse the costs of daycare, 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 offered 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. A significant percentage of 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 a year for six years. NVIDIA tops all companies with $6,000 annual reimbursement 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 up to $20,000. It’s competitor, Verizon pays up to $8,000 a year. Starbucks will cover the full 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 each year to stay at one of its locations anywhere in the world. Employees for 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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