“Panda Days” and Paid Time Off: What Perks Perk Up Employees

February 8, 2016

Glassdoor, a job search site, recently compiled a list of 20 companies that provide job perks that are especially attractive to potential new employees.

Perks are essential in attracting and retaining talent, and companies are offering more and more varied perks to hire the very best they can. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) job seekers reported benefits and perks being among their top considerations before accepting a job, according to Glassdoor data.

If media coverage is any indication, workplace perks are clearly a hot topic, with pieces on “top perks to attract top talent” appearing in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Inc., Money, and Forbes in the last several years.

The perks vary widely, but common themes emerge among the most popular benefits, namely parenting, lifestyle, education or skill building, and cash perks.

Benefits related to parenting are on the upswing, particularly in the tech industry as giants such as Apple, Google, and Facebook have rolled out new benefits for new parents. One new benefit underscores the challenges of women balancing careers and children: egg freezing services for women who choose to delay having children. Another is companies paying the costs of shipping breast milk home when new moms are on business trips and separated from their babies.

New parents also no doubt perked up (pun intended) when companies offered such benefits as unlimited parental leave (Netflix) and $4,000 in “baby cash” for the birth of a newborn (Facebook).

For all that, employee perks that tend to get the most attention, and are most often tied to the products the company offers, fall into the lifestyle category. Burton, a snowboard and snowboarding apparel company, offers season ski passes and “snow days” to its employees. Similarly, REI offers paid days off to its employees to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities. The outdoor gear and sporting goods store made headlines for closing on Black Friday and inviting its employees to #OptOutside. The World Wildlife Fund offers paid days off, nicknamed “panda days,” after the company mascot.

In the education and skillbuilding category, web and mobile app company, Asana, offers life and executive coaching outside the company. And Epic Systems offers employees who have worked there for five years a four-week sabbatical to pursue “creative activities.”

Cash is still king in some companies even as they offer new benefits such as student loan debt reimbursement, a huge draw for Millennials in particular since as many as two-thirds graduate college with significant debt. Airbnb offers employees $2,000 for places to stay as they travel around the world — with the not-surprising requirement that they stay in Airbnb properties.

The takeaway is that top perks are changing as companies strive to meet the needs of a more diverse workforce. The old standbys of health insurance and paid time off still matter most. But employers might want to take a closer look at baby cash and snow days as well.

For the complete list of top perks from Glassdoor, click here.

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