On-site scuba lessons, desks on wheels, employee shopping sprees and unlimited time off are just a few of the ways innovative employers recruit, reward, retain and refresh workers. See if any of these best practices—some simple, some extravagant—inspire you to take a fresh look at your company’s perks:
♦ Verizon, the phone, wireless and cable TV giant, encourages employees to post videos of themselves showing and telling their colleagues how to perform jobrelated tasks or solve common problems. Through 2013, workers had posted more than 2,800 videos on the company’s intranet video site, VZTube. With more than 2 million views, the videos have gone viral—at least internally.
Videos depict employees demonstrating the use of computer software and other business tools. One popular video—about Samsung’s Droid Charge smartphone—logged 1,240 views within minutes of being posted.
♦ After its research showed that consumers respond well to pitches that involve playing games, marketing firm Upstream Systems “gamified” its own search for job candidates.
Applicants for five marketing campaign manager positions competed for the job by competing in an online challenge, which senior VP Guy Krief said was designed to attract “the right kind of candidates for this role.”
The multinational Upstream, with U.S. operations in California’s Silicon Valley, develops smartphone-based marketing campaigns for consumer-products clients.
The campaign manager selection game required would-be employees to navigate seven online “missions” set up to reveal their language fluency, creative thinking, understanding of basis statistics and tolerance for challenge, Krief explains.
The challenge took about an hour and led candidates through a series of problems related to specific aspects of the position they were seeking. They had to “decrypt” anagrams,” answer word usage questions, solve elementary math problems, match customer emotions to hypothetical scenarios and more.
Krief said the game-like format of the job “application” attracted candidates who might not have applied for the job through more traditional means.
♦ It’s not too early for the Newark, N.J., office of the Patton Boggs law firm to start planning its annual holiday celebrations—because it throws two separate parties every December.
The first is for the children and guests of staff members, and includes visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and their many elves. The second party is for employees and their partners, and is held at a local country club.
The abundance of holiday cheer, say execs, is part of an effort to create a family atmosphere and reinforce social ties among staff members. Throughout the year, the firm’s employees mingle during monthly cocktail parties.
In addition, Patton Boggs offers employees extra half-days off during the summer and on-the-spot bonuses of up to $2,000 for jobs well done.
The firm’s attorneys are required to complete at least 100 hours of pro bono work each year, and the staff routinely pitches in to help the homeless and hungry in their communities.
♦ Employees of Washington, D.C.-area companies that made The Washington Post’s inaugural list of the area’s top workplaces are apparently very well fed. Amid the medical, vacation and flex benefits cited by employees of the top firms are a huge number of perks involving company-supplied food. Examples:
- Digital marketing firm Fishbowl in Alexandria, Va., shuttles its employees to restaurants at lunchtime so they can eat on the D.C. suburb’s trendiest street.
- CustomInk, an online clothing designer in Fairfax, Va., has a frozen yogurt machine in the office and serves a “PM Pick-up” snack every afternoon.
- An annual Tech Chef contest at technology and data firm DMI in Bethesda, Md., allows teams of employees to showcase their cooking skills. Winners take home grills.
- Architectural firm Gensler hosts a farmer’s market once a month in the summer so employees can buy fresh produce without leaving the office.
- An espresso bar on the first day of work of the New Year welcomed employees of law firm Kelley Drye & Warren back to work.
- Employees of the Share Our Strength food and nutrition charity showcase their baking skills in monthly “Bakolutions” celebrations.
♦ A group of Wisconsin businesses has created a series of videos for grade school and high school teachers to use for teaching practical applications for math on a manufacturer’s production line.
The Northeastern Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance includes employers such as KI Furniture, cheese maker Sargento and snow blower manufacturer Ariens.
It aims to change the perception that manufacturing is “dingy, dumbed-down and deadend,” says Andy Bushmaker, senior HR manager for KI Furniture.
The videos drive home the point that manufacturing employees use skills like trigonometry, software optimization and robotics on the job.
“There’s more to manufacturing than pulling levers; there’s opportunity for real money and advancement,” says Bushmaker, who notes the manufacturers are recruiting the next generation of employees by partnering with the schools.
“Young people won’t be able to capitalize on these opportunities if they don’t have the math and technical knowledge these jobs require. We’re helping them acquire those skills.”
The alliance also sponsors mentorship opportunities to introduce students to careers in manufacturing. More than 1,000 students have visited KI’s plant in the past year for tours and internships.
♦ Employees of Robert Half International gave the business suits off their backs to help others find jobs.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing company invited its own employees and those of nearby businesses to donate “interview appropriate” clothing and accessories to disadvantaged job-seekers through its “Dress for Success” program.
The 19,000 suits, separates, shoes, scarves and accessories the company collected were distributed to thousands of job candidates who otherwise might not have been able to make good first impressions.
The company started the annual drive in 2002 and through 2015 had collected more than 250,000 pieces of clothing.
♦ Employees of digital marketing firm iProspect play foosball and shoot hoops in between working with clients who hire the firm to boost their online presence.
The Fort Worth organization allows employees to take breaks in a game room, a practice that President Jeremy Confeldt says “brings a unique and casual atmosphere to our office culture.”
Adding to the casual culture: a policy that lets employees wear shorts to work two days a week on hot days. In addition, workers may bring their dogs to work, and they enjoy a monthly “bonding” lunch that allows co-workers to eat together and get to know one another.
Employees earn four weeks of paid vacation after two years on the job, can flex their schedules during the summer and miss any three “optional days” during the year. The organization is closed between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
♦ The Motley Fool tells applicants they are applying for the best job they’ll ever
have, touting its flexible work schedules, competitive salaries, employee
benefits and friendly work environment. Among the “foolish benefits” offered by the
Alexandria, Va., personal finance publisher:
- Unlimited paid vacation and sick leave. The “take what you need” policy assumes
employees will get their work done and arrange for absences in advance with
bosses. Then they can take “any reasonable amount of time off.”
- 9:30 a.m. start time, although supervisors may approve other schedules. Most
Motley Fools work 40 to 50 hours a week.
- An ultra-casual dress code lets staff wear basically anything they want.
- The company provides up to $5,250 in tuition assistance for employment-related
- Fool University offers more than 100 classes a year, from computer skills to golf.
- New moms get up to 14 weeks of leave at 100% pay, plus $200 worth of homedelivered groceries. Dads receive up to five weeks of leave at 100% pay, plus the
♦ In January of 2014, the Marriott International hotel chain began accepting applications from job-seekers who apply via their cellphones and tablets. The hospitality giant says it is the first in the industry to offer mobile job applications to would-be employees.
“We recognize that the job hunt is changing rapidly,” says David Rodriguez, executive vice-president of HR, who notes that 70% of job-seekers use mobile devices to research job openings.
“We believe that investing in new mobile technology is critical to attracting talent,” Rodriguez says, “especially millennials and those in emerging markets who depend on their mobile devices more than any other generation before them.”
Candidates can use their smartphones and tablets to learn about and apply for jobs at jobs.marriott.com. They may type in their information or import it directly from their LinkedIn profiles. The app is available in six languages.
♦ Sheetz President and CEO Joe Sheetz says the convenience store giant not only tries to offer the same employee benefits as its competitors, but tries to customize perks to suit its young workers, many of whom work relatively few hours.
So even part-timers are eligible for health, dental and vision benefits, as well as for 401(k) matches, employee stock ownership and quarterly bonuses.
Employees of the chain’s 460 stores who achieve milestones can score rewards like a two-day, all-expenses-paid resort retreat. And those who volunteer in their communities could be selected to work on projects with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Co-workers participate in friendly sandwich-making competitions that can earn them cash prizes and recognition among their peers.
♦ Nestlé Purina Petcare’s employee benefits program offers workers a little help with their own pets.
The pet food maker offers $200 to any associate who adopts or becomes a pet owner to help defray initial costs. Employees at the firm’s St. Louis headquarters may bring their pets to work with them every day.
The company also offers child- and parent-friendly benefits, including:
- An infant formula program that provides store coupons for any type of Nestlé infant formula
- A program that reimburses staff for some adoption costs.
- On-site day care for children from 6 weeks to 6 years old.
The company also has an on-site medical center that offers yearly health screenings and treatment of minor illnesses.