As the talent wars heat up, some companies are betting on "warm and fuzzy" benefits as a retention strategy that will improve employee engagement and improve workplace morale.
The logic is: Employees who feel like a valued part of an organization are employees who are more likely to remain loyal to an organization.
"If we have happy, motivated and engaged people, they will bring their best selves to work," says Mike Weinholtz, CEO of CHG Healthcare Services in Salt Lake City.
The company, which ranked third in Fortune's 2013 list of Best Companies to work for, uses frequent employee surveys to understand what its workers want. Additions of a health clinic and fitness center came from employee suggestions, and Weinholtz believes success starts with employees who feel appreciated and recognized.
We put together a list of perks companies are offering to improve employee engagement. Also check out our roundup of Benefits Companies Offer to Lure Top Talent.
Encouraging Professional Development
Career skills are often hard to work into an already crammed schedule. Companies are recognizing how difficult it is to balance everything and are making it easier for employees to earn advanced degrees, participate in professional opportunities and have a mentor's help. Horizon Healthcare Services in Newark, N.J. makes executive coaching available, as well as opportunities for management and leadership training. And other businesses provide tuition reimbursement so employees can focus on getting a degree -- not on paying for it. For example, Mitre, based in Bedford, Mass. and McLean, Va., offers qualified employees in their accelerated graduate degree program tuition reimbursement, as well as a paid day off every week to study.
Lightening the Load
After a long day at work, who wants to go home to a dirty house? Evernote in Redwood City, Calif. pays for employees to have a cleaning service come to their homes every two weeks. And what about employees who have to leave their dog home alone all day while they're at work? Well-behaved dogs that belong to employees in the McLean, Va. office of Mars (yes, the candy company!), are welcome to come to work with their owners. And for part-timers who feel the pinch of not having benefits, employees at Seattle, Wash.-based Starbucks can receive benefits and stock rewards, as long as they put in 20 hours a week.
Sponsoring Fun and Games
Work is fun when you can take laughter yoga classes (Zappos, based in Las Vegas), have a field day (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, based in Memphis, Tenn.), pan for gold (Go Daddy in Scottsdale, Ariz.) and look forward to an annual appreciation week, which can include trips to theme parks, movie outings and fun giveaways (Aflac, based in Columbus, Ga.). And employees of Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler have company-sponsored specialized groups based on shared interests, such as a running club and a Hispanic employee network group.
Rewarding Employees with a Night Out
All hard-working parents need a night out once in a while. Many companies integrate child care benefits as part of their work-life program, but it's only the online nanny- and babysitter-finding service Care.com that can also help them find date night babysitters. At Yahoo in Sunnyvale, Calif., iRobot in Bedford, Mass. and Bethesda, Md.-based Honest Tea, the service is free for employees.
Providing Time to Give Back to the Community
Many workers enjoy volunteering in the community, but too often the time they can give is limited by work and family obligations. Companies are now recognizing that employees' talents are best shared, and are granting both paid and unpaid time off to help others. Alternately, they're sponsoring company teams to volunteer time and energy. Patagonia in Ventura, Calif. gives employees up to one month of paid time off to work at their chosen green nonprofit. McKinsey & Company, based in New York City, supports workers with extended, unpaid leaves of absence to pursue the things in life that require time: delving into a special interest, learning a language or even completing a home renovation.
Making It All About the Employee
Quick neck massage after you finish a tough project? Employees of Clif Bar & Company in Emeryville, Calif. can get a reduced-fee relaxing massage on-site or clear their minds by climbing the company's bouldering wall. MasterCard (based in Purchase, N.Y.) employees can strategize with health coaches to get on the right track. And if you just need help figuring out your goals, life coaches at Asana in San Francisco provide employees with guidance and encouragement. Other companies offer financial planning seminars (Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.), organic food choices (SAS in Cary, N.C.), free hotel rooms (Four Seasons, based in Toronto) and on-site $8 haircuts for both men and women (Worthington Industries in Columbus, Ohio).