When technology startups like Google first started giving free gourmet food, free massages, childcare and other great perks to manage employee morale and talent retention, it felt like a passing fad. These perks felt especially out of place given that the rest of corporate America saw pensions being eliminated and overall benefits decline.
Today, we take news of these perks as granted and even larger employers have had to reverse the tide of perks decline to compete with Silicon Valley. But it appears that a few employers continue to try and raise the benefits bar even further to address employee morale. Here are a few of the recent announcements
The CEO of Boxed, Chieh Huang announced this week that he will use his own money to pay for employees’ kids college tuition. He made the announcement internally a few months ago, which resulted in a few tears in the room. He indicated that he would provide tuition costs regardless of the amount and where the student chose to go to school. Currently 12 employees qualify for the program, and as that number grows, Huang indicated that he will find additional ways to increase these funds.
Just in April, the New York Times reported that Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments decided to raise the minimum wage at his company to $70,000 / year within three years. He reportedly did this after reading an article on happiness (based on a research study) that argued that money can significantly drive happiness for those earning less than $70,000 a year. To pay for this, he said he would cut his own salary from $1 million to $70,000 and use the company’s profit to pay for the rest.
Just last week, Richard Branson, the celebrity CEO of the Virgin empire announced that employees who have worked over four years at Virgin Management, the group’s licensing and branding arm would get 52-weeks of 100% paid paternity / maternity leave. This only applies to Virgin Management’s London and Geneva offices, and is in responses to new UK legislation called “Shared Parental Leave and Pay” that mandates 6-months parental leave with 90% of salary received for first six weeks. Branson indicated that he wanted to go a “step further”.
We at Tapwage applaud these efforts. We truly believe benefits matter — both in employee retention and employee morale. They can create the right environment for innovation to happen. Companies can always pay more, and should to get and retain the best employees. But shared amenities and benefits ranging from day-care to parental leave can lower costs, create a level playing field and encourage long-term employees to take greater ownership at the workplace.
As employees, it becomes vital to fully consider benefits as carefully as you consider salary when looking for a job, and when negotiating a contract. These often add up and importantly, reflect the culture and values of the organization.