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Reinstate fun, family focus to recruit and retain

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in Centerpiece,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

perks and incentives signIf your organization is suffering a post-recession exodus of its most valuable employees, here’s an old-school idea to stop the drain: Add job perks that your competitors don’t offer.

Plenty of businesses have reduced staff size and pay raises since 2008, but many scaled back family-friendly and fun benefits, too. Now savvy employers are finding that one way to hold onto high-producing employees their competition would like to lure away is to give them something unique to stick around for.

Nearly a third of employers in a CareerBuilder.com survey reported that they lost some of their best employees in 2012, and 39% said they are concerned about top-talent defection this year.

In another CareerBuilder survey, a quarter of 3,900 full-time employees who participated said they plan to find new jobs this year or next.

In search of better benefits

They told pollsters they’re looking for more money and better benefits, but that’s not all.

Nearly 60% want flexible schedules. “Being able to make a difference” and “challenging work” ranked high on their list of most-desired benefits. One-third said they wanted to work from home.

Still, 40% of them said the perk they want most is half-day Fridays. Other favorites included on-site gyms, a casual dress code, catered lunches and massages in the workplace. Some asked for a place to nap in the afternoon and help paying commuting expenses.

Sound familiar? In the years leading up to the recession, when unemployment was low and businesses had a tougher time filling jobs, work/life benefits and on-the-job niceties and conveniences became critical to recruiting and retention.

“Being compensated well will always be a top consideration,” notes Career­­Builder HR VP Rosemary Haefner, “but we’re seeing work/life balance, telecommuting options and learning opportunities outweigh other job factors when an employee decides whether to stay with an organization.”

Customized perks

As employees continue to feel more confident about changing jobs, employers once again are turning to nontraditional and sometimes unique job perks to help them meet their hiring needs and retain star staff members.

A new wrinkle with this recovery: These aren’t across-the-board, extra benefits to which everyone is entitled. More companies are customizing perks to suit the specific employees they have targeted for retention. Some hold out special benefits as rewards for a job well done.

Best of the benefits

Other benefits are unabashedly about add­­ing enjoyment to the work experience.

Consider Fortune magazine’s 2013 top pick for its “Best Companies to Work For” list for the fourth year in a row: Mountain View, Calif.-based Google. The search engine and Android operating system giant offers a slew of traditional benefits and quirky perks, including 100,000 hours of subsidized massages for employees last year. Google just opened a huge sports complex, complete with basketball and shuffleboard courts and a hockey rink.

Second on Fortune’s tally is perennial list-maker SAS. The Cary, N.C.-based enterprise software maker organizes family picnics, throws monthly parties—and pays a pianist to play live in one of its four staff cafeterias.

Third is CHG Healthcare Services in Salt Lake City, which holds talent shows and dress-up days, along with traditional health and vacation benefits and two new employee health centers.

Employees’ choice

In fact, all the big Best Companies’ lists that have announced their winners so far this year include companies with long menus of nontraditional and work/life benefits for employees.

Glassdoor’s fifth annual “Employees’ Choice Awards” list is notable because employees, rather than the organizations, nominated their employers for consideration. They also helped determine the winners by completing surveys about the companies. Glassdoor spokeswoman Samantha Zupan noted that employees were most enthusiastic about employers that “create a positive and enjoyable workplace.”

For the second time in two years, Facebook took the top spot on the Glassdoor list for its mix of traditional and nontraditional perks, including free meals, a $4,000 gift to every new parent and even on-site photo processing.

Zupan notes that fun and family-focused perks don’t supplant serious business and bottom-line goals. Rather, they increase job satisfaction, which en­­hances employee loyalty and commitment to their companies’ business priorities.

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