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The Most Popular Incentive Programs

Caterina Maria | Tuesday 20 August 2013 ( 0 Comment)

Employee benefits, or perquisites (perks), are special recognition given to employees generally on the basis of performance, but other times, based on seniority.
In some cases, they are distributed company-wide.
While providing incentives is more common during boom economic times, in certain industries today—particularly the internet and technology—wide-spread and creative perks have become de rigueur. 

Google Sets the Standard
At the extreme end of the scale, Google employees receive access to a wide range of benefits at their offices, including:

  • Free haircuts
  • Gyms and swimming pools
  • On-site laundry and dry-cleaning
  • Game rooms with video games, pool, ping pong
  • On-site medical staff and available massage therapists
  • The 20% option (Google employees can spend 20% of their work time on 'pet projects')
  • Lavish on-site cafeterias

For some companies, simple is better. Straight annual cash bonuses, as a percentage of base income or a share of company profits is the standard incentive. Other companies, not awash with cash, provide creative perks such as discounts on company products, parking spaces and employee recognition.

The Basics
Benefits of a standard nature include health care coverage, tuition reimbursement, vacations based on length of service, company-provided technology like cell phones, laptops, and internet service. The United States Department of Labor regularly publishes statistics on the state of employer furnished health insurance programs. 
The most popular perks in business today combine elements of the old standards, elements of new, and some creative twists on both:

  • Paid leave for a week or two to work on a social cause or community program of your choice
  • Promoting awareness of international cultures by providing an impetus to employees who vacation abroad
  • Tuition help for entire families
  • Gift cards and employee awards for favored establishments in the community
  • Wellness bundles, including gym and spa memberships with full-coverage health plans
  • On-site childcare
  • Bringing pets to work
  • Allowing telecommuting
  • Paid sabbaticals. Some companies provide time off for employees to pursue enriching themselves or adding academic credentials

In addition to the wonderland of benefits at Google previously described, the following United States companies have their own unique spin on unusual perks.

  • Employees at Timberland can receive a $3000 incentive to purchase a hybrid automobile.
  • Workers at S.C. Johnson receive lifetime memberships to the company's fitness center.
  • Pregnant employees at Eli Lilly can take a month paid leave prior to the expected childbirth date, and JM Smucker employees receive 100% tuition reimbursement, and there's no cap on the amount.
  • At Evernote, a Silicon Valley software company, every employee has their house cleaned twice a month at company expense.
  •  Genentech offers take-home dinners and assistance in finding last-minute sitters when employee's children are too sick to go to school.
  • If you're burning the midnight oil in your office at Facebook, you can take a free dinner home with you, or invite your family to come and eat in the company cafeteria. Facebook also offers $3000 assistance for childcare to families and up to $5000 in adoption expense assistance.
  • At the consulting firm Deloitte, an employee can receive back-up help for an aging parent or grandparent; the company subsidizes nutritionists and personal trainers, and offers access to round-the-clock counseling for issues like marital strife and infertility. Deloitte feels their idea of benefits should spread, as they see positive results and achievements as a consequence of making the perks available.

Incentives are deep at some companies, and non-existent at others.
Research seems to bear out that those companies offering at least some type of plan have higher levels of productivity and employee loyalty.


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