Published on February 16th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover
“ Once you get that two-way energy thing going,
everyone benefits hugely.”
– James Taylor
ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY”: Retaining the best employees is a crucial part of business success today. But, at the same time, keeping employee-related costs down is also a matter of business survival in the hyper-competitive world we live in. What’s an employer to do? Many have turned to providing unusual perquisites (commonly called “perks.”)
Following World War II, when soldiers returned from war eager to form families, buy houses and drive cars, there resulted a shortage of labor to build, construct and manufacture what people wanted to buy, own and consume. So employers came up with the idea of “job benefits” in an effort to attract and retain employees. That is how employer-provided health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, paid vacation days and retirement benefits, just to name a few, came to be commonly expected employment “benefits.”
The word “perquisite” – or “perk,” for short – means “a gratuity, privilege or right of employment that is incidental to usual compensation.” Some might call them “mini-benefits,” because they are not as costly to employers, and do not seem as valuable to employees in comparison with such things as health insurance, pensions and life insurance.
In today’s competition for the best employees, employers are coming up with new, different, and unusual ways to attract and retain those who seem to be “the best and the brightest.” Your employer just might offer certain job “perks” that you may not be aware of.
According to a recently published report, these are some employer-provided perks you may have a hard time believing:
- Accenture, PLC, the multinational management consulting services company, pays for its employees’ gender-reassignment surgery and related services.
- Adobe, the California-based computer software company, closes all of its offices for two weeks a year, one in December, one during the summer months.
- AirBnB, the alternative lodging website, gives each of its employees a voucher for $2,000 to stay at any AirBnB listed location.
- Web and mobile application design company, Asana, provides both executive coaching and life coaching to its employees.
- After each winter snowfall, snowboard manufacturer Burton gives its employees ski passes and “ski days off” to enjoy the slopes.
- Privately held healthcare software company Epic Systems permits each of its employees, each five years, a four-week-long paid time off to pursue subjects of interest.
- Evernote, the cross-platform, freemium app designed for note-taking organizing and archiving, offers its employees team-building classes, through its “Evernote Academy,” including “macaroon-baking.”
- Facebook, the online social networking service, gives its employees with a newborn a gift of $4,000 in “Baby Cash.”
- Google, the online search engine and digital advertiser, provides the surviving spouse or partner of any employee who passes away one half of the deceased’s salary for ten years.
- Netflix, the multinational provider of on-demand streaming media over the internet, offers employees – both male and female – a full year of paid time off after a new child enters the family.
- Pinterest, the photo-sharing website, provides three months of paid parental leave, and an additional month or part-time hours after that.
- PwC (formerly known as PriceWaterhouseCoopers) provides its employees a yearly stipend of $1,200 for repayment of student loans.
- Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly known as “REI,” the retailer of outdoor recreational gear, sporting goods and casual clothing, offers two paid days off each year, called “Yay Days,” for employees to enjoy their favorite outdoor activity.”
- Salesforce, known best for its customer relationship management (“CRM”) software, gives its employees both $1,000 to donate to a favorite charity and six paid days off per year to engage in volunteer activities.
- Spotify, the commercial music streaming service, provides its employees (i) fertility assistance services, (ii) “egg-freezing,” (iii) six months off with pay when a new child joins the family, and (iv) one month of flexible work arrangements when new parents return from maternity or paternity leaves.
- Twilio, the cloud communications company, offers a Kindle and $30 monthly to purchase books.
- Twitter, the online social networking service that enables users to send and receive 140-character messages, improvisation classes, on-site acupuncture, and three catered meals a day.
- Walt Disney Company, gives its employees discounts on its hotels and merchandise, as well as free admission to its theme and amusement parks.
- Environmental and wildlife non-profit, World Wildlife Fund, permits its employees to take off every other Friday, also known as “Panda Days.”
- Zillow, the residential real estate website listing service, pays for recent mothers who travel to ship their breast milk.
LESSON TO LEARN: Note that many, if not most, of the perks listed above would not necessarily be considered “benefits” by many people. Many of the perks listed above might not even have been imagined by the average person. Any chance employees of those companies listed above don’t know about them?
And, in turn, might you be unaware of any benefits or perk’s available to you, your family, or even your estate? Any chance you are missing out on one or more privileges, entitlements, advantages or days off that might be available to you, your family, or your estate?
New Job? Now is the best time to use our “Model Memo to HR to Clarify “Benefits and Burdens” of Your New Job.” Use it to gather critical information about the benefits, restrictions, policies, etc. Shows “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ Just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Don’t simply assume you are aware of all of the benefits and perquisites that are available to you. Perhaps it would be wiser if you presumed – for the moment – that you might be missing out on some for no good reason.
Considering the rather wide array of benefits and perk’s available to employees these days – many of them quite unusual, unexpected and thus potentially unknown – you may well be missing out quite unnecessarily, if you have not asked your Human Resources representative for a list of the benefits and perk’s available to you, or your family. If no list is available, might there be a website or other source of such information about benefits and perquisites offered to employees at your workplace.
Periodically, or once each year, consider doing just that. You may be surprised, amazed or even delighted that you did. Who knows? Maybe you are entitled to, and missing out on, extra days off, repayment of student loans, free ski passes, donations to you favorite charity, or continued payments to your estate – for up to ten years – in case of your passing. Might just be.
P.S.: Want a Benefit or Better Benefit? Use our Model Memo Requesting a New, Restored, or Better Benefit. Shows “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ Just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!
SkloverWorkingWisdom™ emphasizes smart negotiating – and navigating – for yourself at work. Negotiation and navigation of work and career issues requires that you think “out of the box,” and build value and avoid risks at every point in your career. We strive to help you understand what is commonly before you – traps and pitfalls, included – and to avoid the likely bumps in the road.
Always be proactive. Always be creative. Always be persistent. Always be vigilant. And always do what you can to achieve for yourself, your family, and your career. Take all available steps to increase and secure employment “rewards” and eliminate or reduce employment “risks.” Making sure you are taking advantage of all employment benefits and perquisites available to you is one way to do just that. Learning the “tricks of the trade” is what SkloverWorkingWisdom™ is all about.
*A note about our Actual Case Histories: In order to preserve client confidences, and protect client identities, we alter certain facts, including the name, age, gender, position, date, geographical location, and industry of our clients. The essential facts, the point illustrated and the lesson to be learned, remain actual.
Please Note: This Email Newsletter is not legal advice, but only an effort to provide generalized information about important topics related to employment and the law. Legal advice can only be rendered after formal retention of counsel, and must take into account the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Those in need of legal advice, counsel or representation should retain competent legal counsel licensed to practice law in their locale.
Sklover Working Wisdom™ is a trademarked newsletter publication of Alan L. Sklover, of Sklover & Company, LLC, a law firm dedicated to the counsel and representation of employees in matters of their employment, compensation and severance. Nothing expressed in this material constitutes legal advice. Please note that Mr. Sklover is admitted to practice in the state of New York, only. When assisting clients in other jurisdictions, he retains the assistance of local counsel and/or obtains permission of local Courts to appear. Copying, use and/or reproduction of this material in any form or media without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. For further information, contact Sklover & Company, LLC, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2000, New York, New York 10111 (212) 757-5000.
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