Electric scooters, onsite haircuts and cash – which perks most temp you?

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At a time when companies are struggling to recruit certain talent, established companies and start-ups alike know they have to dangle perks to lure recruits into the fold. And since free food and drink, stock options and yoga classes are no longer special, sometimes that means offering outrageous incentives.

In the 90s, I worked for a Silicon Valley start-up that offered refrigerators stocked with food and drink, Ping-Pong tables, a weekly cruise, happy hours, dry cleaning service, razor scooters for zipping around the building, casual dress and flex-time schedules.

Today, that’s barely the bottom-line offering for tech or financial sector employers. According to Forbes and CNN, many companies offer employees discounted or free massages and yoga, and perks like concierge service are no longer reserved for executives. Start-ups appear to have the most original perks, Mashable reports.

Sound too good to be true? You, too, could command these goodies if your skills are in demand.

To give you a sense of what’s out there, I scoured the web for articles about perks and aggregated them for your convenience:


  • Timberland, the outdoor outfitter company, offers workers a $3,000 subsidy as a down-payment on a hybrid automobile.
  • Texas-based Container Store rewards employees for safe driving, giving out $5,000 for ten years of flawless driving.
  • San Francisco start-up Qwiki allows commuting employees to expense train tickets. The company will buy you a bike or cover your gas expenses.
  • If you work for S.C. Johnson, the company will change the oil in your car.
  • Abercrombie and Fitch offers its employees electric scooters for jetting around the corporate campus.


  • Google offers employees breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for free at any of the 16 gourmet cafes on its campus.
  • Biotech giant Amgen, Inc. cooks up health-conscious meals for employee children dropped off at the company daycare. Employees also enjoy 16 paid holidays a year.
  • Microsoft employees can eat in one of the 14 restaurants and pubs located in a company mall replete with stores and banks.
  • Silicon Valley start-up Asana provides workers with two organic home-cooked meals for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters.

Child-birth and childcare

  • American Century Investments offers coverage for employee adoption expenses and fertility treatments up to $10,000 per year.
  • Amgen offers on-campus Lamaze and breastfeeding classes and lactation rooms for mothers.
  • Google reimburses moms $500 for takeout meals during the first three months after the child is born.
  • Eli Lilly allows pregnant workers to take a paid month off before the baby’s due date.
  • Deloitte allows workers to check up on their kids in daycare via webcams.


  • Cliff Bar treats workers to a 40-foot bouldering wall, fitness center, dance studio, two massage rooms and a staff of certified trainers and nutritionists.
  • Pixar Animation Studios employees run on indoors or outdoors paths, train in the gym or swim in the outdoor pool.

Assorted great perks

  • S.C. Johnson gives retired employees lifetime memberships in its fitness center.
  • Outfitter Patogonia grants two weeks of full-paid leave to employees who want to volunteer for any green non-profit organization.
  • Steel processor Worthington Industries offers workers subsidized onsite haircuts for $4.
  • Jam maker J.M. Smucker grants employees a 100 percent college tuition reimbursement, with no ceiling.
  • Genentech sends ergonomics specialists to examine your work desk and gear to ensure you’re comfortable.

Perks especially for carvers

Snowboarders rejoice! If all your company offers is ten minutes to hustle down to the sandwich truck, you won’t believe what Burton Original Snowboard Company of Vermont offers its workers:

  • Free season ski pass
  • Company skate park
  • Company closures when it snows two feet or more (so workers may go boarding)
  • Dog-friendly office
  • Company rides and ski trips.

If you could have any of these perks, which one would you choose?

Woodrow Aames has written articles and profiles for Yahoo, Microsoft Network & Encarta, as well as tech savvy pieces for various computer schools. He holds an MFA degree and has taught English abroad.

Correction on 4/17/12: An earlier version of this post misrepresented American Century Investments’ coverage for employee adoption expenses.


  1. Marian Schembari

    AWESOME POST! I love this – sooo cool to see what perks are out there. Me want.

  2. Schmuckersrestaurant

    These are all great but I operate a small family diner of 64 years. These are all out of the possiblity for me to offer. What are options for me?

    • SLV

      The thing these perks have in common is not just cost, but creativity. Think about what would make your employees feel appreciated – freshly painted locker/coatrack area? A monthly birthday celebration for whomever has a birthday that month, including cupcakes for all? What businesses are next to you, that you might pair with – for example, if a florist is next to you, maybe you could trade flowers for the employee of the month at your diner for dinner coupons at your diner for the florists’ employees. Are you in the middle of a town, a downtown area? Then what about putting up a bike rack painted in the colors of your business to encourage people to exercise more? What about putting a sign in the window one week of the month celebrating a new accomplishment of either your employees or someone in the community? Get a group of people together, including your employees, and brainstorm a bit. For a small family diner in a well-established community, there’s a lot of overlap of the employees with the customers – find ways to celebrate them all.

  3. madtowngirl

    Epic Systems, here in town, offers a free one month paid vacation to anywhere in the world for you and a companion after five years. The only caveat is that you have to go somewhere you have never been before. After ten years? You can take FOUR people. Absolutely amazing.

    • Ladyfreisland

      I work in HR and love the ideas other companys seem to offer…yet most companys struggle to see the benefits in offering great benefits and perks.

      I must know, who do you work for?

  4. megan

    You should include Evernote here – $1000 spending money as an incentive to take vacation, AND twice-monthly housekeeping for all employees. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/business/phil-libin-of-evernote-on-its-unusual-corporate-culture.html?pagewanted=all

  5. Jrandom42

    I would take none of the above. My employer offers the best perk: Fully paid healthcare. No premiums, no deductable, no co-pays, nothing at all out of my pocket or paycheck. Everything is picked up by the employer’s plan. None of the listed perks even come close to this.

    Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Snacks? Doesn’t even come close to this, and nearly all the best doctors and hospitals on the West Coast are included in this plan.

    I’d like to see any company top that as a perk!

  6. SLV

    Perks I want: a company that is truly doing good in the world and not just focused on the bottom line, a boss who actually knows what he/she is doing, and being able to complete my work in 40 hours per week. My industry (engineering consulting) can’t seem to offer any of these things.

    • May

      How is it possible for a company not to focus on the bottom line. You can’t pay employees if money isn’t coming in the door….love the grandiose idea though…

  7. Business Forms Printing

    perks i want a couple of thing as this article explains each and everything i really appreciated your effort thanks for sharing with us.
    keep up this useful work

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