Tech Boom Fuels Surge Of Creative Perks To Lure -- And Keep -- Top Talent

Creative PerksThe technology sector has been one of the few bright spots within the otherwise anemic U.S. job market. In fact, tech businesses are so keen on staffing some difficult-to-fill positions that they're layering on the perks in the hope of enticing the best and brightest to their ranks.

Those enticements range from the sublime to the nearly ridiculous in companies' efforts to find software engineers, computer programmers and other information-technology (IT) jobs.

In testimony earlier this month before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said finding IT talent remains a "serious challenge." Smith noted that in May the software giant had about 2,600 computer science jobs that couldn't be filled because of a lack of qualified applicants.

But it isn't only attracting talent that keeps companies looking for new ways to make the workplace a better place to be. The cost of hiring a new employee averages about $3,250, according to data compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management, so retaining top-performing employees is also key.

With that mind, here's a list of some of the novel approaches technology-based and other companies are using to attract and keep the best workers, as compiled by AOL Jobs research and Hasai, a social media strategy firm.

1. Facebook regularly sponsors happy hour events to help new and old employees alike to get to know one another. Among the social media giant's other perks: Free food, three weeks of paid time off and unlimited sick leave.

2. eBay, the popular auction and marketplace website, encourages teamwork by arranging outings that include annual rafting trips.

3. Employees at networking site LinkedIn, AOL Huffington Post Media Group (publisher of AOL Jobs) and numerous other companies allow employees to play pingpong during downtime as a way to stimulate creativity, eliminate boredom and build camaraderie.

4. Quicksilver Software, based in Irvine, Calif., encourages its employees to "hang ten" at nearby Huntington Beach, the beach community that's also known as Surf City, U.S.A.

5. Both child and pet friendly, Bay Area biotechnology company Genentech offers employees free onsight child and doggy daycare while they work.

6. Online dating site Zoosk is seeking to woo software engineers with the promise of a free date with one of the stars of its TV commercials.

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