Com­pa­nies of­fer quirky perks such as gui­tar lessons, tat­toos

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Joyce M. Rosen­berg

Sab­bat­i­cals, mas­sages or a home maid ser­vice? Bike main­te­nance, tat­toos or gui­tar lessons? Some smal­land medium-sized com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing quirky and en­vi­able perks to try to at­tract and keep the best work­ers.

The hun­dred staffers at mar­ket­ing firm Vel­vet Me­dia can pe­ri­od­i­cally spend a month work­ing at any of its of­fices — Den­ver, Tokyo, Bangkok or Venice, Italy — with the com­pany pay­ing their ex­penses, CO-CEO Daniele Gatti says.

Many busi­nesses pro­vide such out-of-the-norm perks be­cause they want staffers to have a re­ward­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“We ex­tend work into em­ploy­ees’ lives,” says Neil Vaswani, CEO of Core­stream, a ben­e­fits con­sult­ing com­pany. “We have to start ex­tend­ing them a lit­tle bit of quid pro quo.”

A look at the un­usual ben­e­fits at some com­pa­nies:

QUIRKY

Monthly maid ser­vice, money to­ward “what­ever makes you happy” — such as yoga, man­i­cures or pot­tery classes.

WHO’S THEM:

The Ze­bra, an Austin, Texas-based car in­sur­ance com­par­i­son web­site, with about 100 em­ploy­ees.

WHY: “When you de­sign perks, you think about pro­vid­ing tools that are dif­fer­en­tia­tors when you’re try­ing to at­tract top ta­lent,” says chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer Joshua Dzi­abiak.

OTHER BEN­E­FITS: Un­lim­ited paid time off, a com­pany gym, or re­im­burse­ment for an out­side gym mem­ber­ship.

PUSH­ING THE EDGE:

“We were try­ing to be kind of rad­i­cal about it. If some­one is work­ing all day, putting their ef­forts into their job, what is some­thing peo­ple can’t stand do­ing when they come home from work? Clean­ing,” Dzi­abiak says.

QUIRKY

Monthly mas­sages, and Lyft rides.

WHO’S THEM:

C3 Met­rics, a Portsmouth, N.h.-based com­pany that an­a­lyzes ad­ver­tis­ing and web­site view­er­ship, with about 40 em­ploy­ees.

WHY: “Tech­nol­ogy work can be stress­ful at times,” says co-founder Jeff Green­field. “Mas­sages not only coun­ter­act some of the im­pact of stand­ing in front of the screen, they’re a move to­ward a health­ier life­style.”

The com­pany be­gan of­fer­ing free Uber rides af­ter one staffer was charged with a DUI. Em­ploy­ees can use them for any rea­son.

OTHER BEN­E­FITS: Catered lunch daily, gym mem­ber­ships, week­ends that be­gin by 3 p.m. Fri­day.

PUTTING HIS MONEY WHERE HIS HEART IS:

“When­ever I hire some­one, I kind of fall in love with them,” Green­field says.

QUIRKY PERKS: 30-day paid sab­bat­i­cal ev­ery three years, va­ca­tion ex­penses, $1,000 re­im­burse­ment for any kind of lessons, in­clud­ing gui­tar, cook­ing or flight school.

WHO’S THEM: PERKS: OF­FER­ING PERKS:

Uber

OF­FER­ING OF­FER­ING

Base­camp, a Chicago-based maker of project man­age­ment soft­ware, with about 50 em­ploy­ees.

WHY: “We want to find op­por­tu­ni­ties that ben­e­fit peo­ple out­side of the of­fice,” says CEO Ja­son Fried, who says the perks were the re­sult of em­ploy­ees’ sug­ges­tions “plus our own thoughts about what makes a bet­ter com­pany.”

OTHER

Four-day work­week in the sum­mer, mas­sages, free dry clean­ing

WORTH THE COST?:

Fried es­ti­mates Base­camp spends about a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars an­nu­ally on th­ese perks. But, he says, “we think this is some of the best money we can spend.”

QUIRKY PERKS: Per­for­mance re­wards of a staffer’s choos­ing can in­clude tat­toos, mas­sages, din­ner or con­cert tick­ets; em­ploy­ees can work at home one day a week and be on call or work re­motely the day af­ter a na­tional hol­i­day.

WHO’S THEM:

Tin­sel, a New York­based event de­sign and plan­ning com­pany, with about 10 full-time staffers.

WHY: Co-owner Erica Tay­lor says she and her busi­ness part­ner, Adette Con­tr­eras, wanted to re­ward staffers whose jobs in­clude early morn­ings, nights and week­ends. “We want to make sure they feel we’re in­vest­ing in them, that it’s re­cip­ro­cal.”

OTHER

Staffers can bring dogs to work; the com­pany has out­ings like beach days, New York sky­line cruises or roller skat­ing days.

BE­YOND MONEY:

asked, what

BEN­E­FITS: OF­FER­ING BEN­E­FITS:

“We goes be­yond ‘Here’s an­other bump up in your check.’ We wanted some­thing that feels more per­sonal and thought­ful,” Tay­lor says.

QUIRKY PERKS: Bose noise-can­cel­ing head­phones, soccer tick­ets, Ama­zon gift cards, daily lunches at nearby restau­rants.

WHO’S THEM: OF­FER­ING

Ge­niuslink, a Seattle-based com­pany that man­u­fac­tures soft­ware to stream­line on­line re­tail­ing, with about a dozen full-time em­ploy­ees

WHY: “It al­lows us to com­pete against star­tups that have a lot of money to throw around,” says CEO Jesse Lakes. An­other rea­son for the head­phones: Those who need to con­cen­trate can have a hard time in an open work en­vi­ron­ment.

OTHER BEN­E­FITS: Un­lim­ited snacks and bev­er­ages, free park­ing or pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

THAT’S NOT WHY THEY CALL IT WORK:

“If we’re not hav­ing fun, then what’s the point of do­ing a startup,” says Lakes, who pre­vi­ously worked at Mi­crosoft.

QUIRKY PERKS: New moth­ers can bring babies un­der six months old to work (no new fathers have asked yet), the com­pany pays for bi­cy­cle gear and main­te­nance, and Pi­lates classes are held in the of­fice twice a week

WHO’S THEM:

Ad­ven­ture Life, a travel com­pany based in Mis­soula, Mont., with about two dozen em­ploy­ees

WHY: “We need to walk the talk by en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to do many of the ac­tiv­i­ties that we of­fer to our cus­tomers,” says CEO Brian Mor­gan.

OTHER

Gym mem­ber­ship, dogs are al­lowed at work, 50 per­cent re­im­burse­ment for classes like cook­ing, learn­ing a lan­guage, con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion, also a 50 per­cent re­im­burse­ment for fees on ac­tiv­i­ties like marathons.

WORK­ING WITH BABIES ON BOARD:

Moms can walk the babies around when they’re on phone calls, and co-work­ers can take breaks with the babies when moth­ers have to fo­cus. “Babies do such a great thing for us,” Mor­gan says.

QUIRKY PERKS: Yoga equip­ment, shuf­fle­board, a pool ta­ble, a rock climb­ing wall, and bi­cy­cles at the of­fice.

WHO’S THEM: OF­FER­ING BEN­E­FITS: OF­FER­ING

The Melt­ing Pot, a res­tau­rant fran­chisor with about 65 em­ploy­ees at its home of­fice in Tampa, Fla.

WHY: “Take a look at job sat­is­fac­tion. There’s been a steady de­cline since the late 1980s,” says CEO Bob John­ston. “We have an obli­ga­tion to give peo­ple a good work en­vi­ron­ment.”

OTHER BEN­E­FITS: Em­ploy­ees can bring their dogs to work, and can work from home one day a week.

GRA­NOLA BARS AREN’T ENOUGH:

“The idea is to sur­round em­ploy­ees with perks that make them bet­ter ver­sions of them­selves — not just full from a snack bar,” John­ston says.

Mark Len­ni­han, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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