Once thought to be solely the domain of trendy Silicon Valley companies, untraditional employee perks — from free laundry to the services of a gourmet chef — are popping up in some more traditional places.
Texas-based home builder David Weekley Homes will help put a roof over your head — literally. The company offers employees 10 percent off the price of a new home.
“We decided to offer a discount,” said company CEO David Weekley, “because what we found was with the employees — they are the ones who are closest to the customer. And if they go through the same experience the customer does, then they can do a much better job with the customer.”
In addition, the company sets ambitious three year targets. If it meets those numbers, all employees and their spouses go on a week-long trip. Last year, the company rewarded nearly 3,000 employees and family with a five-day trip to Hawaii — at an estimated cost of $8 million.
“We know that our team can work anywhere,” said Weekley. “They're highly talented people. We want there to be more than just a paycheck.”
Four Seasons Hotels is also putting employees in their customer's shoes. All employees and their immediate families can stay free at any location in the world. Meals in the restaurants are discounted 50 percent.
Some perks reflect the staff's creative impulses. At the Toledo, Ohio headquarters of Root Learning, portraits of all 80 employees — painted by fellow employees — hang on the wall in the lobby.
Human resource experts say these types of benefits create bonds which boost the bottom line.
“Certainly companies that have the best cultures, the ones where real community and culture have been established then reap the benefits,” said John Challenger, CEO of the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Because people trust each other, they can rely on each other, they can go away and no someone is going to be there to back them up. That kind of culture is just invaluable.”
But when it comes to perks, few garner as enthusiastic a response as what Miller Brewing offers its employees.
“Everybody loves free beer,” said one Miller employee. “Who wouldn't love that?”
Miller recently built "Fred's Pub" — a place for employees to gather and relax with each other after hours. And, no surprise here, the beer is free. While it sounds like an idea pitched by a summer intern — this idea came from the top.
“The pub is a result of our CEO, Norman Ademi, who wanted to create a beer culture,” said Kim Marotta at Miller Brewing. “When he walked around the building, he realized Miller looked like any other company. So it was really important for him to create the beer culture: that sense of fun, that sense of celebration, that sense of camaraderie.”
People who do business with Miller are also fans of the pub.
“Contract negations go a lot better,” said Nick Ivanvicic, one of the company’s clients.