Employee benefits – Exciting or Borderline Crazy?

Employee benefits

Another great month rolls by, and so you’re sitting at your desk feeling rather smug about the great team you’ve built – ok, this bit may sound a little bit fictional but you have a great bunch of employees who each perform well and play their part to create a great company culture. In the midst of your satisfied smugness, Janet, one of your best and brightest – approaches your desk with a rather sheepish look on her face and asks for a quick confidential chat. Your mind immediately jumps to resignation – they’re going to leave! Why? What can we do to keep them? Will THAT stop them leaving? You walk into the meeting room ready to hear the worst; however, what you are told is not quite what you expected…

She’s expecting a baby in the New Year and wanted to let you know of her plans. You congratulate her and sigh in relief – until you realise you could still lose her so how will you ensure she will return?

This may well have been one of Facebook’s reasons behind their new employee benefit where new parents are offered $4,000 in ‘baby cash’ when they have a child (a good way to ensure they come back). And it doesn’t just stop there, Facebook and Apple also now pay for employees to freeze their eggs (potentially a scheme to delay women from leaving to have babies)!

You may ask, why these companies are offering such out-there employee packages?

When I first heard about the range of benefits Silicon Valley companies were offering I thought of it as a competition to add the most extreme perk and wondered what they were trying to achieve. It is possible however, that Silicon Valley companies are onto something – other than building excessive amounts of wealth, that is (we’re looking at you here, Mark Zuckerburg!).

In an increasing competitive industry, with high demand and competition between the Silicon Valley companies for the best and brightest, these benefits are a new way to not only attract employees, but act as an incentive for them to stay with the company. This is not only for the famous Silicon Valley tech giants but also for companies based here in New Zealand. After all, wouldn’t everyone want to work at an organisation like Google and take advantage of daily hot meals, laundry service and gyms irrespective of their yearly salary? One guy reportedly liked these benefits so much that he parked his RV on site for a year.

New Zealand’s yet to start implementing extreme packages (well, we haven’t heard of any yet). We here at Potentia are finding that companies are starting to offer more items in their remuneration packages; share options, personal tools, study grants and flexible working arrangements, but it’s still far from the trends overseas.

However, the questions remain; will offering these unusual perks really pay off for the companies? How far will they go?

With the demand for tech professionals, I don’t think Silicon Valley companies will stop at freezing eggs and ‘baby cash’. Many already have ‘blackout weeks’, meals, treats, travel allowances, open vacation policies, adoption assistance, Jam rooms, climbing walls, swimming pools, beer on tap, Scuba certifications, pets at work, Lego building, dog-sitting, concierge services and lastly Google California even trucked in snow to build a snowy wonderland.

In New Zealand, we just don’t have the moneymaking machine of the likes of those in Silicon Valley, so it will be tougher to make grand and expensive gestures but is it time for us to get more creative with our employment perks? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, and share any ‘out there’ or cool benefits that you have heard New Zealand employers are offering.