What non-traditional benefits could my company offer?
May 30, 2008 1:25 PM   Subscribe

What are some examples of non-traditional employee benefits?

My company has a pretty standard benefits package, including vacation time, profit sharing, and health insurance. What are some non-traditional benefits we could add?

A few ideas we have kicked around are bringing lunch in, chair massages, and occasional after-work cocktails.

What other neat benefits could we offer?
posted by Xazeru to Work & Money (68 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
a former company i worked for used to fly staff into snowmass, colorado in early april each year for a week. they covered lodging and dinner, as well.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2008

speaking as a cycle commuter, any workplace that offers me shower facilities or access to a nearby health club wins points in my book.

communal recreational equipment, like ping pong or pool tables, are also nice.
posted by bl1nk at 1:29 PM on May 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

Transit passes come to mind. The TTA serves the Triangle area; here are what other employers offer.
posted by Dec One at 1:33 PM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Shower facilities are awesome.

This is a bit of an odd one, but where I work, we work 9 hour days, but every other Friday is an off Friday. I think we'd lose 40% of our work force if we ever went to 9-5.
posted by zabuni at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

No dress code.
posted by pieoverdone at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I once received a hot cocoa sampler box.
posted by kenchie at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

We get dismemberment insurance. Which wouldn't be so weird in a factory, but I work in a public library.
posted by box at 1:39 PM on May 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

At my job, we have the following awethum perks:

* Working longer hours for a flex day off every other week
* No dress code
* Dogs are allowed (mine is here now, snoring under my desk)
* We get to travel around the world at least once a year to do "research and development" (we're an adventure travel company), all expenses paid. Usually it's for a minimum of 2-3 weeks and it's usually in some incredibly exotic location.

I love my job.

Boss occasionally treats us to dinners out or concert tickets. We live in a town that has "locals only" private beaches, so we get to use guest passes if we want to wander down to the beach for our lunch break.

With the economy the way it is, I think gift cards for gas stations or a little shopping spree at Costco or dinner at a nice restaurants would be lovely perks / incentives.
posted by HeyAllie at 1:42 PM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

My company offers an annual bicycle $80 tune-up benefit...pretty useful. That's if you don't take advantage of their discounted transit pass benefit.
posted by redsparkler at 1:42 PM on May 30, 2008

My workplace has a few unusual benefits I was surprised to discover:
1. Massages. Not the chair kind, the real deal: half an hour on the table in a private room reserved for the purpose.
2. Monthly contributions to my HSA nearly equal to my insurance deduction.
3. Extremely wide latitude in setting my schedule.
4. Pre-tax transit payment program.
5. A "staff appreciation day" once a year, where the entire company closes down (during "on the clock" business hours) and goes off for a picnic or other activity. There are presents. Last year every employee got one of those dinky iPod things. And ice cream.
6. A "holiday celebration day" once a year, et cetera et cetera. The same deal in re: presents and activities and a couple of meals.
7. A telecommuting policy best described as "wildly liberal."
8. Cupcakes. My boss' boss makes the most awesome cupcakes.
9. A functioning espresso machine and decent beans with which to use it.
10. A health management program.
11. Year-end bonuses.

I've only been with this outfit for a couple of years so I suppose if I were to dig I'd turn up all sorts of other unusual things the company does for its people, but those are a few that spring to mind.
posted by majick at 1:48 PM on May 30, 2008

Discounted gym memberships are great for the employees and the company and nthing shower facilities for runners, bladers and bikers. A lockable bike storage room would also be a nice.
posted by pixlboi at 1:49 PM on May 30, 2008

Getting to bring your dog to work. I would like to change jobs but won't because of this one thing.
posted by HotToddy at 1:58 PM on May 30, 2008

Take a look at Google's listed benefits for ideas.

Also, consider Google's concept of "20 percent time," where developers are encouraged to spend up to 20 percent of their work time on projects unrelated to their core focus. This is construed as an employee benefit ("work on what you want to work on"), but it ultimately helps the company significantly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:01 PM on May 30, 2008

* Tuition reimbursement for classes or degrees that don't relate to your job or the company's business.

* A complete kitchen (including appliances, dishes, pots, pans and silverware) with free groceries. Pretty much anything you wanted, they'd stock for you. I was on a SlimFast kick then, so they'd buy a case for me anytime I asked.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:01 PM on May 30, 2008

We have severly-discounted transit tickets. Since my company is located on a rather large campus, they also offer a shuttle service from the nearest bus-stop to our building.
posted by muddgirl at 2:03 PM on May 30, 2008

I once worked at a co. that had fully stocked restrooms: sanity needs for the women's room, I think there was also mouthwash and such. Not sure what was in the men's room, though.
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:03 PM on May 30, 2008

Explicitely: a free shuttle service.

Also, we can make use of the corporate travel agent and receive corporate discounts for personal travel.
posted by muddgirl at 2:03 PM on May 30, 2008

My workplace does the following loving things for us:

--orders in fruit once a week, so there's always fresh fruit in the kitchenette.
--it's your birthday, you say? CAKE PARTY FOR ALL!
--Friday morning breakfast including a truly enormous bowl of fresh berries next to a large bowl of fresh whipped cream, a smoked fish platter, BACON, french toast or pancakes, muffins, croissants, bagels, etc.
--a summer outing (one day of relaxing somewhere nice + food)
--working late = cab home is on the company, dinner too

this stuff is all pretty standard, I think. The more flex time, the better, of course. And there's always the tea tray thing where someone goes around once a week/month with a tea tray loaded with tea, coffee, pastries, and whatever else you can cram in there and visits every office delivering the treats. For a small company, I'd have the CEO do it personally.
posted by prefpara at 2:09 PM on May 30, 2008

My wife used to work for a feminist non-profit that gave staff time off to have their hair done! Strange.

I used to work for a dotcom that had free good coffee, and occasional chair massages, but it came across as coercion to work 20hr days rather than being valued and appreciated. I think there's a fine line there. I always appreciate perks that help me fit work in with the rest of my life (work from home, flex time etc) over perks that make work a happy fun place to spend my whole damn life.
posted by crabintheocean at 2:10 PM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would take a pay cut to bring my dog to work. In fact, I've nearly begged a company smaller and less powerful than where I work now to hire me just because I heard they allowed dogs. I also met someone who was forced to leave a job because all her coworkers hated her after she raised her allergy issues as a reason to stop the "dog-friendly office" policy.

Some non-standard benefits I've had (not all in the same place):
- Happy hour from 4-5pm every day but Monday; Thursdays we drank while watching director's reels
- Free ice cream (ice cream client donated this)
- Free lunches
- Free breakfast once a month
- Free soda
- Burrito delivery every Friday
- Cafeteria in the building
- Vouchers for local restaurants for lunches, dinners
- Shuttle to and from public transport
- Pool table, foosball, pinball machine, Centipede, Ms. PacMan cocktail table
- Nap room
- Subsidized massage therapist
- 6 free "half day Fridays" between Memorial Day and Labor day of my choosing
- The ability to spec my own computer equipment within a budget, rather than being assigned it
- Ergonomics expert
- Gym in the building
- Showers in the building
- Therapy dog in the building (you could book time with the agency Golden Retriever to chill out)
- Yearly picnic/founders day close down
- Ballgame tickets
- Subsidized ski trip
- Volunteer days and workwide volunteer days
- School time (16 hours of leave for parent conferences, school plays, etc.)
- Paying for membership into industry groups, airline clubs (Red Carpet Club, Admiral's Club)
- BlackBerry
- Allowing me to work from home when I don't have a meeting
posted by Gucky at 2:16 PM on May 30, 2008

A casual/nonexistent dress code and scheduling flexibility are two benefits that would strongly influence my desire to work somewhere.

Private cubicles are also wonderful, though probably not considered a "benefit" by most people. I feel much more comfortable reading Metafilter working at a job where I'm not in full view of all my coworkers.

Other benefits I've had at various places over the years:

-Various well-stocked pantries with things like unlimited free sodas, instant soup, oatmeal, bagels, fruit, etc
-a Lavazza Blue machine
-liberal holiday schedules, e.g. entire office closed between Christmas and New Years Day
-$250 department store gift certificates as holiday gifts
-beer at meetings
-a Wii in the break room

One thing I've never had, but would love to see, is a nap room.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:17 PM on May 30, 2008

There are a lot listed here. Also, the alt-weekly in my town reportedly has a beer vending machine.
posted by limeonaire at 2:21 PM on May 30, 2008

Oh, and my place of work has free beer in the fridge. But that's just 'cause Miller's trying to ply us with alcoholic gifts.

At 37 Signals, I've heard, they just instituted four-day weeks, among other cool perks.
posted by limeonaire at 2:25 PM on May 30, 2008

On-site daycare.
Barring that, a daycare allowance.

Basically, anything you can do to allow for family activities. My wife, for instance, works for a small employer who allows her to take-off early in order for her to get to our daughter's school softball and soccer games.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:28 PM on May 30, 2008

Non-standard benefits I either have now or have had in the past:

- Flex accounts (allows you to set aside a certain amount of pretax money for medical or childcare expenses, which lowers your overall tax liability)

- Flexible starting/ending/lunch times (usually in conjunction with certain "core" hours) -- this is HUGE for me, as I am virtually incapable of being anywhere before 10 a.m. on a regular basis, so I'm happy to leave late or eat lunch at my desk for the perk of rolling in at 10.

- No dress code (or at least casual dress)

- Working at home when feasible

- Organized down time (could be going to a baseball game, movie time in the board room [a place I worked in Chicago had an annual screening of "The Year Without a Santa Claus," which inevitably involved a hearty Heatmiser/Snowmiser singalong], etc.)
posted by scody at 2:29 PM on May 30, 2008

We have ice cream in every floor's lounge on Fridays, and the first Friday of every month there's a big food-related celebration. Lots of free lunches, and free fruit always stocked in one break room. Early closings before big long weekend holidays. Lots of free coffee/tea/hot cocoa. Yearly summer party and holiday party. I'm sure the attorneys get awesome perks that I'm not even aware of.

I do miss the days of working in an academic library where the entire school shuts down the week between Christmas and New Years, so free vacation week. That is an awesome benefit.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:38 PM on May 30, 2008

AAA memberships
Free Breakfast Friday
posted by illek at 2:39 PM on May 30, 2008

At my last job, at a Big 5 accounting firm (is there even a "Big 5" anymore?) we had corporate American Express cards. We used them for standard office purchases, software, stuff like that, but we also charged all our business travel on them. We got to keep all the rewards points, which could easily stretch into the hundreds of dollars a year, and it wasn't difficult for them to go into the thousands. I would do all my Christmas shopping at Borders, since I could get gift certificates with my points.

Also--frequent flier miles were ours to keep and use in whatever personal ways we saw fit. Sure, in-office Starbucks was great, but those miles and points were a huge perk.

One of the neatest perks was being able to fly in to a city a day, or more, early, and just live it up. The company realized that a Saturday-night stayover usually saved them big bucks on airfare. I flew into San Francisco on a Saturday morning, stayed in a fancy place, rented a nice car, ate out in fabulous restaurants for almost two whole days before my meetings started, all on the company. Sure, you had to prove that there was a savings to the company, but they made that easy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:41 PM on May 30, 2008

The two that come to mind were free ice cream during the summer on Fridays, and the big holiday party the firm would put on for the kids of employees (one of the partners would dress up as Santa, every kid would get a present, there'd be crafts and food and associates dressed in reindeer costumes)...
posted by Lucinda at 2:50 PM on May 30, 2008

When I worked at AMS they offered a sabbatical. I am sure I am getting the details wrong, but basically after a certain period of time working there, like maybe 5 years, you got to take a 2- or 3-month sabbatical.

When I worked at What's Up America, they offered free housing for foreign interns. The house was nice, in Georgetown.
posted by charlesv at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2008

One of my previous employers owned a skybox at the local stadium which they mostly used to entertain clients, but for a lot of events they either had extra space, or they simply weren't using it. The employees were then able to bid for tickets to the skybox for those events. I saw quite a few basketball games and some awesome concerts for free because of that perk. I don't know if your company is to big too make that unwieldy, but it was certainly a good perk.

That same company also provided free soda. Not healthy, but definitely enjoyed by all.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2008

My old job paid for flight training. We made avionics, so I guess it made sense.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:04 PM on May 30, 2008

Pet insurance.

Not a good replacement for vacation days, by the way. Not good at all.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:08 PM on May 30, 2008

My old job gave us corporate memberships to many of the museums in town, plus the zoo and the aquarium. It was great!
posted by rmless at 3:13 PM on May 30, 2008

401(K) matching
Alternative therapy insurance (acupuncture, herbal, chiro, etc.)
Commuter Checks
Tuition reimbursement

I'm not much for bread and circuses team-building stuff, though, so I don't really care for "Let's play Boggle in the park once a month!" I'm more supportive of things that provide a better life outside of work (and vice versa) rather than those that blur the line between the two.
posted by rhizome at 3:19 PM on May 30, 2008

When my partner worked for UBS, the ID was good for free museum entry. Not just at dinky crap in Stamford, but a lot of the major museums in NYC. That's over now, but it was kind of sweet.

I work for a university/research hospital with no gym discount, which I find kind of annoying. But this is what I do get, or at least, take advantage of:
- birthday lunch or breakfast celebration in my birthday month
- free shuttle along the entire university system, as well as to the railroad
- Pay for food with your ID instead of having to carry cash. Really useful, not plausible at smaller institutions.
- I think there are discount train tickets; the shuttle lines sync up with the train lines to prevent waiting during rush hours.

During periods of high census (in a 1000+ bed hospital, things can get insane when you're out of beds) there are extra bonuses.

My office is very pro-birthday cake. There is about a 50% chance anyone's birthday will result in two cakes, depending on how well the back half of the office likes you.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2008

This is a bit of an odd one, but where I work, we work 9 hour days, but every other Friday is an off Friday. I think we'd lose 40% of our work force if we ever went to 9-5.

Wow, this is odd? This is an Uncle Sam classic. The salary sucks, but I work 4 x 10 and I'm off every Friday. Some folks work the schedule that you describe. Also mentioned upthread and offered where I work are day care, free gym, tuition reimbursement, bus commuter subsidy, telework, 401K match all the free office supplies you can carry...
posted by fixedgear at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2008

You're in Raleigh; you might consider tickets to the Carolina Ballet (or another theater company).
posted by amtho at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2008

Nap room

Oh, I had this perk once in a call center. "The Quiet Room" was a sacred place, and most of us really used it for its intended purpose - to get a mental break from the constant noise on the call center floor - and not for sleeping off a hangover.

Then some hired-gun management consultants recommended yet another reorg, and the room was turned into storage.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:37 PM on May 30, 2008

Where I work now I get free porn rentals and discounts on sex toys - that's pretty cool. I work at an adult retailer, so it's really just an employee product discount (it's pretty generous, though).

Other nice benefits I've had at other jobs include chair massages (discounted - I think they were $5), a 15 minute daily group stretch, cocktails or kegs on friday, occasional wine and cheese parties where we mgmt bought wines to sample and everyone brought cheeses, LAN parties and flexible hours. Getting food delivered when everyone is working late is a must. One workplace collected frequent flier miles to give me so I could accompany my wife to get an experimental cancer treatment.

My favorite benefit is working with great people - one place I worked at had a great HR department that consistently hired really smart people. I didn't work with any morons for three whole years. It was awesome.
posted by smartyboots at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2008

Free magazines and books when I worked for a media conglomerate, and not just the titles you worked on.
Company museum memberships where you can get in free with your employee ID.
My husband's company gave him six paid weeks paternity leave, which I think is pretty unusual.
posted by libraryhead at 4:46 PM on May 30, 2008

"Green to gold" programs which encourage clerical , production, and support employees to demonstrate potential and interest in professional or managerial careers, and provides the promising candidates the education and/or experience needed to transition.

A limo service and/or nearby hotel account privilege for people working exceptionally long hours -- pretty common in New York, Chicago and Washington where people often commute by mass transit, but to my mind even more valuable in cities where people have agonizingly long drives home.

Group purchase and/or preferred provider arrangements which make it cheaper and easier to get professional services (accounting, legal, etc.) or financial services not in the standard benefits (supplemental disability, personal investment planning, etc.)

"Incentive importation" -- things like stock and phantom stock purchase plans for companies that are private and want to stay that way, performance-linked bonuses and pay raises in non-profits which otherwise lack private-sector incentives, etc.

For companies where most professional employees stay for a few years and then leave (either voluntarily or because they don't meet the up-or-out standard), a formal and informal commitment to career planning and assistance with job searches for those who are moving on.

On-site lunch-hour wellness programs (yoga, meditation, Weight Watchers, smoking-cessation etc.)
posted by MattD at 5:01 PM on May 30, 2008

Maybe it's a standard elsewhere, but my grin was a mile wide for a week when I learned about out our summer hours - we get every other weekend all summer as a long weekend, so long as we piece together the missing hours elsewhere.

We also have flexible start/end times, so long as we put in 7 hours. We have crazy amounts of parties/office gatherings, with at least one "official" one every six to eight weeks - catered and all. The organization allocates three flex days off a year which they wedge between awkward days like the ones in between christmas and new years. We get soda, coffee, juices, teas, etc in our kitchens and cookies in meeting rooms. The org pays a couple hundred bucks towards health & fitness related expenses that fall out of the range of our health benefits (ie: gym membership, fitness equipment, acupuncture, etc.). They are very family-friendly and work with parents to figure out how they can best use their time (telecommuting is pretty common as a partial solution). Every department is given "fun money" that goes towards department holiday parties or for when a milestone happens (someone's five year anniversary) the use for which is entirely up to the department staff.

These things seem small, but after working for broke nonprofits, they add up to a job that's going to be hard to walk away from.
posted by SassHat at 5:12 PM on May 30, 2008

Beer tap.
Free snacks
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:14 PM on May 30, 2008

I thought of a few more :

- In addition to standard holidays, one firm where I worked allowed you to take any day in the month you were hired as a holiday. I was hired in May, so I always took a 4 day Memorial Day weekend. (After ten years, you'd get a day in the month of your birthday off.)

- low cost fitness room right in the building

- if you didn't get health insurance through the firm, you'd get money - either as a cash lump sum or a deposit into your 401(k)

- our bookkeeper puts out a massive, massive, MASSIVE St. Joseph's Altar every year.
posted by Lucinda at 5:21 PM on May 30, 2008

Haven't seen these yet:
- Sick room stocked with a cot, first aid supplies, and things like gravol,advil,pepto,etc
- Car battery booster
- Weekly lunchtime BBQ in the summers if you've got a deck or patio (different department each week responsible for cooking and coming up with a theme of something different in addition to the usual burgers and hot dogs, priced accordingly with a cash box or IOU's)
- One neat thing I've seen is giving employees cute little sheds with doors to work in and customize to their taste instead of boring cubicles
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:30 PM on May 30, 2008

i used to work for a furniture removalist company here in australia. we got free breakfast daily. bacon and eggs on sat. yayyy. whenever someone finds out i was a mini movers mover, they ask about the free breakfast, and if its true. it is.

my brother negotiated his wages with his employer, as a joke i sugested asking for a pizza to be delivered every fri night. he asked, he recieved. he asked at the end of negotiations as an afterthought.
posted by dent8101 at 5:34 PM on May 30, 2008

Echoing bl1nk above, my company has two showers for bike commuters (and lunchtime riders/runners) and a cash incentive for riding to work. This month (Bike to Work Month) earned triple points, so I rode in every work-day and earned myself a nice little $320 bonus.
posted by brozek at 5:54 PM on May 30, 2008

AMS also had flextime that worked like this:

In any 2-week pay period, all hours over 95 hours counted as flex time, which was separate from vacation time. Flextime maxed out at 40 hours. If you took vacation, your flextime was automatically deducted before they started counting vacation days.

So if you worked, say, 100 hours this pay period and 105 hours next pay period, that was 15 (5 + 10) hours of flextime. I was typically working 100 hours every pay period, so that was an extra week of time off every four months.
posted by charlesv at 6:01 PM on May 30, 2008

Teacher here: We had the benefit of learning other skills such as fixing copy machines and zoo management.
posted by boots77 at 6:15 PM on May 30, 2008

I used to work at a company that had "R&R" week--basically a free week of vacation, either the week before Labor Day or the week between Christmas and New Years. You could take one or the other. This resulted in two guaranteed slow weeks a year for the whole company and I thought it awesome.
posted by donovan at 7:12 PM on May 30, 2008

Sabatticals--3 months off with pay, every so many years. College professors and some clergy get them. But they're a great thing for any situation where long hours are expected.
posted by beagle at 7:24 PM on May 30, 2008

My employer pays for language lessons (French or Spanish) up to $600 per semester. We have a high end espresso/cappucino maker, and the office closes at 3pm on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
posted by kimdog at 7:29 PM on May 30, 2008

Best answer:
  • massage service
  • transit passes
  • gym memberships
  • fresh muffins every morning
  • one day off per month
  • if you have a dress-code, have the occassional "shorts and sandals" days
  • Costco memberships
  • Free/cheap movie tickets
  • Telecommuting
  • Pool table/big screen tv in the lounge
  • Ski/Lift passes that you can borrow for the weekend
  • if anyone has to work more than 1hour after 5pm, automatic free food (pizza, etc)
  • Education subsidy
  • Christmas party/picnics for employee families
  • Nicer chairs/equipment
  • Video game afternoons where every can play LAN/XBOX/Wii games together

  • posted by blue_beetle at 7:38 PM on May 30, 2008

    You could offer a van pool, where the company pays to lease the van and for fuel.
    posted by sebastienbailard at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2008

    If you do not have private offices, you need a mother's room - a private room with a locking door, electrical outlet, fridge, and preferably a sink for nursing mothers returning to work so that they can pump.
    posted by crazycanuck at 9:01 PM on May 30, 2008

    And on further reflection, offer paid maternity and parental leave. At least 4 weeks paid for dad and 12 weeks paid for mom with more unpaid time available.
    posted by crazycanuck at 9:21 PM on May 30, 2008

    The last place I worked shut down the office from the Friday before Christmas to January 2.
    posted by bendy at 9:39 PM on May 30, 2008

    stuff I like where I'm at now:

    * yoga class onsite (we pay for it ourselves, but it's nice to have one less bit of travel)
    * chair massages (again, we pay, but it's quite reasonable cost, and makes a nice midday break!)
    * exercise room & showers
    * public transit reimbursement
    * flexible schedules (it's still pretty new, but I'm very excited about my new 9/80 schedule)

    the one thing I REALLY miss from my last job is telecommuting. I loved working from home or the coffee shop.
    posted by epersonae at 9:45 PM on May 30, 2008

    While working for a State University I got $1 a credit hour tuition for myself, spouse and any dependent children.

    Also while working at a University, I enjoyed the paid holiday shutdown between Dec 24 and Jan 1.
    posted by pluckysparrow at 9:47 PM on May 30, 2008

    Coming from the perspective of a Company that offers non-traditional benefits:

    I don't know what your scale or budget is, but I work for a relocation assistance company. We are hired by employers to do research for their relocating employees and the employees' families. In the year that I have worked there, I have researched the following:

    --professional licensure for social workers, teachers, and real estate agents
    --professional talent agent for a dog
    --steps to starting a combination hair salon/antique shop
    --education programs to help new residents of the country secure immigration sponsorship
    --daycares, preschools, and school districts
    --mammography treatment centers
    --therapists and psychiatrists
    --driver licensing and vehicle registration information

    My company also provides career consulting services such as resume preparation, interviewing assistance, and research on local employers for the employees' spouses/fiance(e)s/partners.

    I know I could've used this kind of service when I was getting ready to study abroad. Anyone who's found him/herself in the middle of a big life-changing move will wish they had the same kind of help and support.

    It's great for employee retention. If your company is big enough or considerate enough to offer this type of benefit to your employees, I would strongly recommend it.

    Keywords to look for would be: relocation, relocation assistance, career management, and the like.
    posted by mynameismandab at 9:55 PM on May 30, 2008

    You could offer sex change operations, like Goldman Sachs.
    posted by btkuhn at 10:29 PM on May 30, 2008

    Whatever benefits you offer for married people with kids, be sure that single people without kids aren't left out in the cold.

    If you offer paid maternity and paternity leave, have paid family leave for people who take time off to care for sick family members. Recent studies have shown that given current lifespans, most of us will spend more of our lives caring for our parents than we will caring for our children, and such caregiving can have a significant effect on work life.

    Don't offer flex time only to parents, either by policy or by custom. We all understand that it's important for parents to be able to take a day off when a child is sick or leave early to go see a school play. But single, childless people have non-work lives too, and a huge amount of resentment is created if they see the benefits of flexible scheduling granted for kid-related things but not for non-parents' plans, passions, and hobbies. Make sure that single staff are getting their fair share of the benefits and not working extra hours to pick up the slack for others.

    Monetary benefits, such as family health insurance or life insurance, could be offered cafeteria style, giving people who don't take them the opportunity to take other, equally valuable benefits instead. I'd love to get a cash bonus (or extra vacation time, more company-funded retirement contributions, disability insurance, etc.), in the amount that my company spends on health insurance premiums for a coworker's kids; it seems unfair to me that he essentially makes more money than I do (in the form of health benefits) just because he happens to have children.

    Obviously, any benefit you offer isn't going to be of interest to everyone. My last company had really good coffee that my coworkers raved about; I don't like coffee, so I didn't care. But when you're thinking about big institutional changes that represent large financial or lifestyle benefits, take care to ensure that those benefits are distributed as fairly as possible so that everyone feels taken care of.
    posted by decathecting at 1:10 AM on May 31, 2008 [4 favorites]

    Similar to Kimdog, my office closes at 2pm on Fridays all summer long. It's the best.
    posted by saladin at 8:02 AM on May 31, 2008

    Making employees feel like human beings both in terms of office culture but also by providing:
    - free good coffee, tee, herbal tea etc
    - free fruitbowl
    - selection of papers and a TV in the breakout area
    - 'library' of 2nd hand books which can be taken home if desired
    - being encouraged to try a range of flexible working options, e.g. felxible hours, working from home regularly or on occasion or combination to maximise work life balance
    - parking space at work (ok, I live in the UK but especially in town/city centre locations that can make a big difference!)
    - keeping the place reasonably tidy and pleasant to work in including fixing that broken flickering light asap
    - encouraging car valeting firms, lunch services or dry cleaning pick up/delivery services to come to your premises to allow employees to get these things out of the way during their working day - at no expense to the employer!

    Formal arrangements as part of salary scheme:
    - flexible holiday - option to buy extra days out of salary/sell some of the entitlement - there should never be any pressure on employees to do the latter obviously!
    - similar flexible benefits which employees can choose and pay for out of their salary could be: travel insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, car lease schemes
    - corporate rate agreements with local businesses e.g. discount at the gym next door
    posted by koahiatamadl at 12:58 PM on May 31, 2008

    My husband's employer offers several thousand dollars for adoption expenses, and two weeks of paid parental leave to mothers and fathers of newborns, newly adopted children, and newly-placed foster children.
    posted by candyland at 1:30 PM on May 31, 2008

    Birthday off with pay
    posted by rhinny at 4:22 PM on May 31, 2008

    I used to work at a TV station and we'd get free tickets to concerts and movie premieres. My boyfriend works with a performing arts company and I get free performance tix off him.
    posted by divabat at 3:13 PM on June 1, 2008

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