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Life Health > Health Insurance

12 cool and unusual company benefits

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There has been a lot of debate lately about the effectiveness of companies’ wellness initiatives, both from the pro and con camps, and here at we have covered it before. Do great company benefits really retain the workforce or help candidates make the decision to join a company? Are these benefits worth it?

In some cases, it comes down to individual preference. For example, would you consider bringing your dog to work a cool company benefit? Dogs require constant attention, walking, feeding, and gosh forbid they “go” on the carpet. And then there are coworkers that might be allergic or might not like dogs. However, some studies have shown that having a dog can help decrease stress levels, hence why many soldiers who return home with post-traumatic stress disorder get service dogs.

Another benefit that has proliferated in the age of hipsterdom is drink-beer-at-work days, typically celebrated on Friday afternoons. This helps coworkers get to know each other, relieves stress and provides a more casual office atmosphere. The question to ask is: Would this benefit be in line with your company culture?

Read on to see some of the coolest benefits being offered in 2015. Then, let us know: What are some benefits that you would like to offer your employees or that you wish your company had? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


1. Free (awesome) food

It’s funny how a lot of people suddenly start liking veggie sandwiches, especially if it turns out that those are the last ones on the tray. Even stale left-over bagels find homes if left on the kitchen table. But some companies step it up a notch. Tech giant Google, for example, offers their employees free lunch and dinner on-site, so there’s no need for employees to rush out and battle the lunch hour crowds, or have to run back home to make dinner for the whole family. How convenient is that?, an online marketing company for cars based in Burlington, Vermont, takes health seriously and offers its employees desk-side veggie delivery and subsidized organic “Dot Calm Cafe” drinks.

Zappos, the online shoe retailer known for its incredible company culture, also provides free salads, sandwiches, soup, cereals and even ice cream for their employees. Are you on a diet? Zappos’ gotcha covered with on-site Weight Watchers sessions with reimbursement.

But which company has a professional chef and huge on-site kitchen to prepare a healthy organic lunch every day? That would be the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a nutrition school based in New York City.


2. Car incentives or alternative transportation

Some of us completely depend on our cars to get to work. And some companies have taken notice. Google offers its employees oil changes and car washes, while outdoor apparel manufacturer Timberland offers their employees a $3,000 subsidy for a hybrid car. (I wonder if they will soon offer free car rides in their self-driving cars?)

Other employees enjoy the freedom of biking to work. DC-based Summit LLC, a specialized analytics advisory firm that helps Federal agencies, financial institutions, and litigators as they decode their most complex analytical challenges, provides fully paid memberships to a bike share program for their employees.


3. Concierge and laundry service

Imagine having someone handle your laundry, shop for your groceries and deliver them, take your car in for service and even stand in line for concert tickets. This is the concierge service that SC Johnson & Son, makers of Glade and Windex, offer their employees in Racine, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, at JibJab media in Venice, California, you get an empty laundry bag to fill up if you make it to work by 10 a.m. on Mondays. Oh, and the laundry is ready the next day.


4. Gym, massages, yoga and active lifestyle

What would you say to a job at a company that encourages you to go surfing? That’s what outdoor retailer Patagonia does, along with providing company bikes, volleyball courts and on-site yoga for its employees. If you see a company-wide email, it might be announcing a great surf day.

Zappos doesn’t fall far behind: They provide fitness challenges and an “Endurance Event Reimbursement Program – 100 percent reimbursement of entry fee into eligible endurance events” as well as company sponsored fitness challenges, according to their website.

Google and Scripps Health also provide massages for their employees, and many other companies also provide yoga classes and other health and wellness benefits.


5. Company events

Company events are all the more fun if part of your perks include having seats to Cleveland Cavaliers home games. Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans CEO, also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, and provides Quicken’s employees with transportation and tickets to home games.

Twitter sometimes invites industry think-tanks and celebrities to come speak at their headquarters in San Francisco, while Yahoo! provides their staff with live concerts, with the likes of Taylor Swift, and barbecues for their workers.

Want to make it more educational? Veterans United hosts “Lunch and learn” topics on finances, parenting and health, and Zappos has fitness, financial, health and other conferences available for their employees.


6. Sabbaticals, long vacations and flexible time

Can you tell your boss or your employees that you’re taking a week of sabbatical to go do volunteer work … and still get paid? Timberland employees can, at least once a year.

New York-based Deloitte has a similar program for their workers, providing up to four unpaid weeks to do whatever they wish.

The Massachusetts-based Grasshopper Phone System company offers four weeks of paid time off, shorter summer workdays and flexible hours for their employees. But, at Portland-based Ruby Receptionists, after five years of working there, employees qualify for the “Five at Five” program — a paid five-week sabbatical. They also receive a $1,000 grant for their dream sabbatical.

For those of you who want to work abroad while traveling the world, you can do it at Software Advice, where they encourage their employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world for a month, at least once a year … as long as there is a reliable Internet connection, of course.


7. Maternity and paternity leave

Google offers new fathers six weeks of paid leave, while mothers can take 18 weeks after the birth of the child. Meanwhile Facebook offers both moms and dads four months of paid leave and $4,000 in “baby cash” after the child is born. AOL has a “Well Baby” program, which offers new moms prenatal instruction on childbirth and newborn care. They also get eight fully paid weeks off and adoptive parents get two weeks in maternity leave. 

child care

8. Child care or child care assistance

Imagine bringing your small child with you to work, leaving him or her at an on-site daycare facility, or picking him or her up from school and bringing them back for after-school child care. Some companies — including Google, Starbucks and AOL — offer a version of this daycare program, at a discount, for their employees.

Facebook offers reimbursement for day care and adoption fees.

At Veterans United, employees get a “Parents Night Out” and it’s literally what it sounds like: a date night for parents, every three months, while the company provides a list of recommended babysitters.

cat dog

9. Pet care and insurance

Isn’t it reassuring to know that not only you are covered by health insurance, your pets are too? Scripps Health offers pet insurance, and Trupanion, a pet insurance company based in Seattle, does too, along with having 80 dogs and cats at the office each day. How do they get any work done!? Easy. They have a free pet-walking service that takes the furry creatures to a nearby park twice a day. Employees can play with their pets during break times.


10. Education reimbursement and professional development

Many companies offer this, but recently Starbucks has taken the cake with full tuition reimbursement as part of their College Plan program. There are a few requirements to become eligible, but it’s a pretty sweet deal: if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree and are a benefits-eligible employee (or partner), you can apply for the program to study at Arizona State University.

Google also competes for the top spot with a $12,000 annual tuition reimbursement program.

In the professional development area, Hallmark offers career-boosting sessions for women. The company boasts that 62 percent of women are in administrative and operations positions and 38 percent are senior managers. 


11. Life insurance

Most companies offer life insurance, but Google adds to this benefit by offering the surviving Googler’s spouse or partner a check for 50 percent of the deceased employee salary, every year for ten years. And, get this, there’s no tenure requirement. Moreover, the surviving partner will see all stocks vested immediately and their children will receive a $1,000 monthly payment from Google until they are 19 (or 23, if they are a full-time student).


12. Other benefits

These benefits didn’t fit any of our categories above, but still deserve an honorable mention:

  • Ernst & Young offers the same benefits for same-sex partners as for opposite-sex partners, even in states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

  • Starbucks employees who work part-time still enjoy health insurance benefits. 

  • Google has medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists on its campus.

  • Zappos provides free smoking cessation classes (available telephonically and on-site), adoption and infertility benefits of up to $6,000 annually, a nap room … and the benefits keep on going.

So, tell us: Which of these benefits are your favorites, which ones do you wish you had or could provide, and which ones would you add to the list?

See also:

Most public employees loyal, happy with benefits

2015 outlook: Why financial wellness is the next big trend

Sources:,, BusinessNewsDaily, DailyWorth, Google careers, Zappos benefits, The Washington Post, ForbesInstitute for Integrative Nutrition, Starbucks, Hallmark, Mashable.


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