Imagine penciling “manicure” between “conference call” and “team meeting” on your to-do list, and letting your boss deal with cleaning your house. Or, if whimsy is your thing, think about what it would be like to rent a kitten for your cubicle, or get unlimited free Snickers for the rest of your career. At some companies, perks like these aren’t just the stuff of daydreams – they’re employees’ real-life, workaday experience.
(Photo Credit: in pastel | Flickr)
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 28 percent of U.S. companies increased employee benefits in 2014. And though rare compared to more obvious benefits like healthcare, a small number of employers have begun or continue to offer more unique sorts of perks such as dry-cleaning (9 percent), onsite convenience stores (8 percent), travel planning (6 percent), pet health insurance (6 percent), concierge services (3 percent), haircuts (2 percent), and even employer-sponsored personal shopping discounts (11 percent). For the latest installment of PayScale’s continued coverage of interesting employee benefit-related trends (which have ranged from lucrative cash-based incentives like hiring bounties to envelope-pushing benefits such as egg-freezing subsidization for female employees), we’ve compiled a detailed roundup of companies that offer enviable swag and service-based employee perks. Check out our top five picks below!
1. On-Site Concierge
(The culturally-appropriate gift that one concierge service helped a client select for a Nigerian government official | Photo Credit: John Haslam | Flickr)
Company: SC Johnson & Son, Inc.
Perk Category: Service
The Wisconsin-based manufacturer of household products like Pledge, Ziploc, and Drano gives employees access to an in-house concierge, who will, among other personal assistant-esque tasks, mail packages, retrieve dry cleaning, return library books, change your oil, and even send flowers on your grandmother’s birthday.
Mercedes-Benz USA offers a similar concierge benefit via one particularly prolific concierge company called Circles, a 24-hour service that has gone so far as to plan one employee’s honeymoon. Circles is also used by Biogen Idec, a Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company with 3,000 employees. In 2009, Biogen employees estimated saving 2.6 hours per each Circles request, which totals 261 in annual hourly savings for the company. Other interesting Circles missions have included finding a missing person following the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, and helping another employee select a culturally appropriate gift for a Nigerian government official (a flock of sheep).
2. Free Housecleaning
(Photo Credit: garlandcannon | Flickr)
Perk Category: Service
California-based tech company Evernote offers its staff free professional housecleaning twice a month. Interestingly, the impetus for the service was not the employees themselves:
“We thought that we needed to get spouses and significant others on our side,” Evernote CEO Phil Libin told The New York Times. “I want the pressure from them to be, ‘You better not be thinking about leaving Evernote.’ I don’t want the pressure to be, ‘Maybe you should think about going somewhere else?'”
Target demographic aside, it’s reasonable to deduce that not worrying clutter outside of the office frees up professional brain space and increase productivity inside of it – all of which makes sense given that Evernote produces technology intended to archive and streamline information and ideas.
While the company offers a myriad of other interesting incentives including no-cubicle/phone/long email policies, unlimited time off, and, as previously reported, $1,000 in spending money for employees who need a vacation, the cleaning service is reportedly the most popular perk, with roughly half of the company’s 250-person workforce utilizing it as of 2014, according to LearnVest.
3. Free Beauty Swag / On-Site Grooming
(Contents of a May 2014 BirchBox | Photo Credit: Angie Six | Flickr)
Perk Category: Swag and Service
Employees of the San Francisco-based beauty product subscription-service Birchbox have access to a plethora of otherwise costly beauty-related perks, the most enticing of which is access to the bins of potential products used to fill the monthly “birch boxes” of samples sent to the company’s customers.
In addition to test driving beauty freebies that could include anything from a Stila liquid lipstick trio to a Dr. Brandt microdermabrasion skin exfoliant, employees can sip on a libation from the office’s beer and champagne-stocked fridge while enjoying on-site pampering sessions including manicures and haircuts.
Other Birch benefits include company equity, health, dental, and vision insurance, a free Birchbox subscription, an annual $200 credit to the Birch Box store, and a standing 20 percent employee discount.
4. Unlimited Chocolate, Gum, and Pet Food
(Photo Credit: Eli Christman | Flickr)
Company: Mars Inc.
Perk Category: Swag
Best known for manufacturing some of the world’s most well-known human and pet food brands including M&Ms, Snickers, Lifesavers, Orbit, Pedigree, and Whiskas, the 104-year-old, 100 percent family-owned operation Mars Inc. has a reputation for high loyalty and low turnover. The Mars candy shop in Slough, England, for example, has been run by the same (now 80-something-year-old) woman for over 60 years, according to Fortune.
As the country’s third-largest private company with $33 billion in global revenue in 2014 (putting it ahead of McDonald’s, Starbucks and General Mills), Mars is clearly doing something right when it comes to how it treats their 75,000 employees.
The most impressive employee benefit is an unlimited supply of whatever products his or her particular Mars division produces. Mars Chocolate employees (known internally as “Martians”) have a standing all-access pass to the company’s 29 chocolate brands, including Twix, Dove Bars, Milky Ways, and Snickers; Wrigley workers get free Skittles, Starburst, and of course gum; and animals belonging to humans employees by Mars pet food divisions eat for free (and can also accompany their owners to work).
Additional perks include free in-office candy vending machines; (Wrigley’s) gum-chewing at meetings; sales-based bonuses worth up to 100 percent of employee salaries; and, in the Mars Nashville office, a “cat room,” which houses four felines named after country singers (“Faith,” “Brooks,” “Dunn,” and “Emmy Lou”).
5. Free Kitten Rentals
(A resident of the “Kitty Kondo” | Photo Credit: Tiffany Tillison | Reddit)
Company: The Dona Ana County Government Center
Perk Category: Service (and potentially Swag)
Who needs books when you could have kittens instead? The Dona Ana County Government Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico has an actual cat library. Formally known as the “Kitty Kondo” and informally dubbed “the library,” employees can visit the 93 x 53 x 99-inch library or check out one of the cats to keep them company while they work.
The “Kondo” opened in 2012, and houses around five cats at a time, all of which come from the Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley and have in many cases been abused or abandoned. In addition to providing a one-of-a-kind workplace diversion, “the library” has resulted in more than 100 permanent adoptions of cats that might not otherwise have found a home.
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