Odd perks help retain employees at companies

November 25, 2011 7:09:54 PM PST
When it comes to work, it takes more than a steady paycheck to keep workers happy. A recent employee satisfaction survey conducted by the employment data firm Universum found that a fun culture was the key to attracting employees.

At Zynga and Clif Bar, every day is "Bring Your Dog to Work Day." Although the two Bay Area companies are different in size and mission, they do have some unusual company perks in common.

Zynga, the San Francisco-based game technology company, is building a dog run on their roof for employees. Dog treats are everywhere, and pet insurance is included in the company's benefits.

Those kinds of perks are attractive to people like Zynga's Director of Marketing Roxy Young.

"You can enjoy your day with your favorite pet," said Young.

Google may have been the first dot-com to offer employees regular free meals, but now it's standard fare at many tech firms. At Zynga, pizzas are firing out all day while blue-bottle coffee drips at the in-house cafe and free breakfast, lunch and dinner make it so employees never have to leave the building.

"My absolute favorite perk is Friday brunch, and followed very closely behind by Taco Tuesday," said Young.

Amelia Shuja is Zynga's culinary officer who oversees more than 2,000 meals a day. Shuja believes food is integral to the success of the company.

"Having it all in one site and being together all the time definitely helps productivity," Shuja said.

Chief Executive Officer Amar Panchal of Akraya hired house cleaners for his 31 employees as a way to alleviate some of the stress at home so they can be more productive at work.

"People want to work for a company they feel good about," said Panchal. "This is one of the perks that makes them feel good, because it makes them feel appreciated."

One of the most popular perks at Clif Bar, the Emeryville-based nutrition company, is the half-hour of paid time employees receive to work out. Additionally, employees get 2.5 hours of free personal training.

Human Resource manager Jen Freitas has been with Clif Bar for more than five years and has helped the owners develop some of their benefits.

"Our founders, Gary and Kit, really wanted to create a company where they want to work, a place that supports who they are and their values," Freitas said.

Environmental issues are very important to the company. Clif Bar gives their employees $6,500 toward the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle and $1,000 to do an energy upgrade on their home.

Clif Bar has subsidized meals, on-site chiropractic care, haircuts, massage, day care and dry cleaning. Marketing manager Brooke Golden enjoys many of these benefits.

"Some of the little things, I think, just to make your day easier, especially for a working mom to get through," Golden said.

Retention rates among employees at all of the companies profiled is very high. Clif Bar enjoys a retention rate of 96 percent while Akraya has 95 percent retention.


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