6 Ingenious Work Perks That Save Employees Serious Cash
By Colleen Oakley
Casual Friday. Doughnuts at the staff meeting. Company pens for everyone!
While these ubiquitous work perks are nice--and may make going to the office a little easier on some days--they're probably not doing much for your financial life.
And that's precisely why some organizations have come to the conclusion that the best and most unique employee benefits don't just keep employees happy--they also put some extra cash into their pockets.
Just take a look at what these six savvy companies are offering their workers. Complimentary laundry service, anyone?The Perk: House Cleaning
The Company: Evernote
After a long day at the office, the last thing you probably want to do is scrub your toilet--a predicament that San Francisco Bay area-based start-up Evernote totally gets.
That's why, in 2011, the company that creates apps to help users remember their ideas decided to help its employees remember to enjoy their free time--by hiring someone else to show up at their house with a mop and broom.
According to Ronda Scott, Evernote's director of communications, the company offers this unique employee benefit in order to keep staffers happy at work and at home. (Perhaps they've caught wind of the fact that being stressed outside the office often translates to less productivity at work.) "The benefits package at Evernote is designed to address the small stresses and inefficiencies of everyday life for our employees," Scott says.
To date, nearly half of their 250 employees are taking advantage of the opportunity to have their digs cleaned (for free!) twice a month.
How much employees save: $2,400 annually. The average cost of hiring a house-cleaner twice a month is about $200. And considering that most Americans spend about 13 hours a week on household chores, Evernote employees are saving a ton of time too.
The Perk: Spa Services
The Company: BodyLogicMD
How often do you treat yourself to a massage? Once a year? Maybe twice?
Well, BodyLogicMD thinks their employees deserve a relaxing rubdown a little more often than that. So the network of anti-aging medical practices offers free beauty treatments--like massages and manicures--as often as once a week in their Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters.
"A majority of our staff is on the phone all day, so to get a break for something relaxing is a great way to break things up," says Vic Kuzmovich, vice president of professional services.
But these spa treatments aren't just frivolous treats. Research suggests even a five-minute massage can seriously reduce stress--presumably resulting in less frazzled, more focused BodyLogicMD staff.
How much employees save: Just under $1,000 in weekly manicure costs alone, seeing as the average price for one is about $19. Bonus: BodyLogicMD employees are also saving wait time--and gas money--by not having to hit up the salon or spa.
The Perk: Laundry Service
The Company: JibJab Media
It can be an onerous weekly chore--unless you work for JibJab. We're talking about that mound of dirty clothing staring you down each time the weekend rolls around.
JibJab's solution? Every Monday morning, all 80 employees at the online media company can snag a laundry bag and stuff it with as much clothing as it can hold. Just 24 hours later, a service returns the clothes washed, dried and folded.
The goal is simple: Give employees a chance to relax when they'd otherwise be folding underwear--or fretting about the cost of sending their clothes to a professional launderer.
"If [our founders] could offer a laundry service to give their employees that extra hour or two to spend with family and friends, they figured it was totally worth it," says Mark Phillips, JibJab's brand manager.
How much employees save: About $480. The low-end average cost of drop-off laundry service is $1 a pound, so if you can fit 10 pounds of clothing in your bag, that's $40 of free laundering a month.
Plus, workers are saving time--according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American washes 400 loads per year.
The Perk: Fancy Food
The Company: Ontraport
Here's a scenario many of us can relate to: As the clock strikes noon, your hunger pangs direct you to the deli down the block, where you scarf down an overpriced sandwich.
Tomorrow, you promise yourself, you'll save money (and calories) by packing lunch. But the next day it's the same story.
To remedy this issue, a lot of companies have followed Google's lead, offering free lunch in on-site cafés. But Santa Barbara, Calif.–based software company Ontraport is upping the ante and providing employees with free breakfast, lunch and snacks.
While gratis grub is great for obvious reasons, Ontraport says the program is ultimately about strengthening employee commitment to the company, since people are more inclined to stay on campus and socialize with one another come lunchtime.
"We are very passionate about our culture and encourage our team to build relationships beyond just work," says Andrea Webber, P.R. and marketing assistant at Ontraport. "Feeling like you are among not only your peers but your friends is a huge part of what makes people stay with our company--and want to go above and beyond for their team members."
Their strategy seems to be working: According to Webber, hardly anyone brown-bags lunch or heads off-site to grab a bite.
How much employees save: At least $2,400 per year, based on Visa survey results that found Americans tend to shell out about $10 on their midday meal.
The Perk: Custom Workspace
The Company: Asana
Maybe you've started wearing a $10 doughnut pillow to prevent neck pain from staring at a computer all day. Or perhaps you shelled out $100 for a second monitor in your home office so you don't have to squint at a laptop screen.
Clearly, you don't work at task-management software company Asana, where every employee receives a whopping $10,000 to customize a workstation.
The idea behind the program is straightforward: If employees are physically comfortable, they'll probably be more productive. "We believe people operate at their best when they are happy and at ease," says Britney Heredia, office coordinator at Asana. "A personalized workspace optimizes for sustained productivity and health."
Every single one of Asana's 50 staffers has taken advantage of the opportunity to revamp their workspace, Heredia says, and some of the most popular upgrades include ergonomic and adjustable-height desks.
How much employees save: This perk is ultimately about boosting employee wellness, because sitting for long periods of time, particularly at a poorly structured desk, can negatively impact your health.
And, of course, there's subsequent financial savings if you consider the fact that Americans spend about $86 billion a year on treatments for back and neck pain.
The Perk: Vacation Fun Money
The Company: LoadSpring Solutions
At most places of employment, you have to put in four or five years to earn extra vacation time. But after just a year with this project management company, all "RockStar" employees (those who go above and beyond their job responsibilities) get an additional week of vacation--plus $4,000 to $6,000 to spend while they're away.
About a fifth of all LoadSpring employees take advantage of the benefit, also known as "CultureSpring." And when they do, the company hopes they aren't just sunbathing but also picking up some cross-cultural inspiration that will boost their performance at work.
More specifically, CultureSpring is a way to get employees to think outside the box and learn how people in other communities approach problems similar to the ones they're working on at home. "You get to see where [the U.S. is] excelling, and where other countries have great ideas and people as well," says Stacey Witt, vice president of marketing at LoadSpring.
How much employees save: At least $4,000. The average American shells out about $1,200 on their summer vacations, which means a LoadSpring employee could take a family of three on a trip and still have money left over from the vacation fund bonus to pad their savings.