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Are You Offering the Right Perks To Attract the Right People?

Cornerstone Editors

What sorts of employee perks and benefits matter most to job prospects these days? The answer often depends on which way the pendulum swings in the labor market. With the economy still on a slow rebound, it's clearly more of a buyer's market in 2013 -- with 51 percent of workers saying they will consider looking for a new job if the economy stays the same or improves (according to Glassdoor's Q4 2012 Employment Confidence Survey) and 33 percent reporting they'll begin a search within the year. Our own survey found that 19 million Americans plan to leave their jobs in 2013.

There are lots of good reasons why employees choose to stick around a job (and hopefully get engaged in their work too). Compensation matters, of course. And our survey found that (1) the promise of promotion/advancement, (2) recognizing employee achievements, and (3) providing opportunities for learning and skill development were all retention boosters. Better yet, be a good manager – fully 48 percent of surveyed employees found that to be a good motivator.

However, in cases where salaries, development opportunities and solid management won't close the deal, offering the right kinds of added perks can sometimes make the difference.

Even notoriously perk-resistant Apple Inc. has changed its thinking. Under Steve Jobs' reign, the company ignored employee perks such as free lunches and free time to focus on projects outside a job function, while Silicon Valley neighbors like Google and Facebook flaunted them. As the Wall Street Journal noted last fall, Apple has since taken a softer stance by introducing new employee discounts, a charitable matching program and a program that allows staffers to spend a few weeks on a pet engineering program outside their normal duties.

Other companies are following suit: 65 percent of the employees surveyed by Glassdoor said they were awarded new perks in the past six months, including the option to work remotely, casual dress and flexible work hours. That figure is an all-time high since Glassdoor started tracking in 2011.

Health benefits, gym and tuition reimbursement and retirement savings programs are par for the course in terms of employee perks these days. Even catered meals, child and doggie day care, unlimited vacation time and onsite fitness classes don't seem that lavish anymore, as more and more companies offer them. How are employers upping the ante? Here are some more creative perks we've come across:

Vacation allowance -- Employees at Airbnb get a $2,000 annual stipend to travel anywhere in the world they want.

Baby cash -- Facebook offers free food, laundry service and hair cuts, but one of its bigger perks: $4,000 in cash, plus four months parental leave, when you have a baby.

Free SCUBA certification -- Chesapeake Energy Corp. pays for its employees to learn how to dive. It also offers a 72,000-sq-ft fitness center with an Olympic-size pool.

Hybrid car stipend -- In an effort to go green, Integrated Archive Systems gives employees $10,000 if they buy a hybrid car.

Private jet -- NuStar Energy's private jet isn't just for top-level execs. All employees can use it, though for emergencies only.

Concierge service -- Employees at S.C. Johnson can tap concierges to pick up dry cleaning, mail a package, get their car washed and more.

Oil changes, car washes and hair cuts -- Google sets the gold standard these days for employee perks. But it needs to be, given its status as a market leader, and because of the fierce competition for top engineering and product talent in Silicon Valley.

Music studio -- Online-storage company Dropbox offers its workers access to a fully-equipped music studio, which includes drums, amplifiers and more.

Here at Cornerstone OnDemand, we are trying to do our part to develop a rewarding culture of work (and play). CSOD offers its own perks, like bike-to-work incentive pay, an employee sabbatical policy, strong support for employee volunteerism, and way too much catered food for anyone watching their waistline—see above for evidence.

What kind of perks does your organization offer and what role do perks play in long-term employee retention and engagement?

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