‘Uncommon’ Occupational Benefits & Perks

I was too naïve to know it at the time, but two of the best jobs I ever had were in golf.

By "best," I’m not talking about the pay … I’m referring to the perks.

In high school, I worked at local municipal golf course driving range. I navigated the "picker" as a storm of range balls ricocheted off a caged-in tractor at alarmingly high speeds.

The pay wasn’t great at around $6 an hour. But, the perks were outstanding. I was able to play unlimited free golf at the municipal golf course. Plus, I had access to all the free range balls I could hit, too.

I also worked as a caddy at a nearby country club on weekends.

The caddy job paid about $18 per "loop" (18-hole round). Double-bag caddies brought in twice the loot.

For four hours of time, this pay — including a custom tip — wasn’t that bad. But the real benefit, beyond an occasional hot dog and half-half at the turn, was free access to a championship-style private course. Every Monday, the golf course was open to workers, but not members.

I took advantage of all these perks.

At the time, I didn’t realize their significance. But looking back, the perks of free golf and bottomless range buckets surely outweighed my actual pay.

While I’m talking about my entrance into the workforce 20-plus years ago, benefits and perks are clearly still important to employees nowadays.

In fact, a good portion of employees value certain benefits and perks more than an actual pay raise!

Source: Glassdoor 2015 Employment Confidence Survey

A 2017 study by career website Glassdoor shows 57% of job-seekers count benefits and perks among their top considerations when deciding on a new job. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many companies are focusing their effort on offering enticing hot perks.

Check out the top 20 companies identified by Glassdoor’s benefit reviews and the benefit/perk that each provides along with its overall benefits rating (5 is top billing):

1. Bain & Co.

Benefit or Perk: The Best Place to Work in 2017 holds an annual two-day, global "Bain World Cup" soccer tournament open to all employees. Last year’s event was in Brussels. The 2017 tournament will be held in Los Angeles.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.7

2. Facebook

Benefit or Perk: Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns. Known for its competitive benefits package, many Facebook interns report earning more than $7,000 per month.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.7

3. Eventbrite

Benefit or Perk: Eventbrite helps keep employees healthy by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend, which can be used on everything from gym dues to juice cleanses.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.6

4. IKEA

Benefit or Perk: IKEA offers up to four months of paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees with at least one year of experience at the company, regardless of whether they work at a retail store or the corporate headquarters.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.4

5. Microsoft

Benefit or Perk: Microsoft offers an annual $800 "StayFit" reimbursement program to help cover the cost of gym memberships and fitness programs.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.4

6. Southwest

Benefit or Perk: Southwest offers all employees and their dependents access to Clear Skies, an employee assistance program that provides confidential counseling, work/life services, and legal consultations.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.4

7. USAA

Benefit or Perk: USAA offers a strong 401(k) program with an 8 percent matching policy. According to SHRM, the average company in the U.S. matches 6 percent.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.4

8. Genentech

Benefit or Perk: Genentech offers unique on-site amenities, including car washes, haircuts, childcare center, mobile spa and dentist.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.3

9. In-N-Out

Benefit or Perk: In-N-Out employees can treat themselves to a free Double-Double burger and fries during each shift.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.3

10. Starbucks

Benefit or Perk: Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor’s degree program through Arizona State University.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.3

11. Swiss Re

Benefit or Perk: Insurance company Swiss Re’s "Own the Way You Work" program encourages employees to embrace flexibility with their schedules and work remotely.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.3

12. Deloitte

Benefit or Perk: Deloitte offers two sabbatical programs: an unpaid one-month sabbatical that can be taken for any reason, and a three- to six-month sabbatical that can be taken to pursue personal or professional growth opportunities with 40% pay.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.1

13. Goldman Sachs

Benefit or Perk: Goldman offers coverage for gender reassignment surgery, a benefit the company has offered since 2008.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.1

14. Reebok

Benefit or Perk: Reebok encourages employees to reach their personal fitness goals by providing an on-site gym with CrossFit classes.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.1

15. Scripps Health

Benefit or Perk: Scripps Health cares about the wellbeing of its employees’ furry family members, offering pet health insurance for cats and dogs.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.1

16. American Express

Benefit or Perk: Amex’s parental leave policy offers up to five months of fully paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Birthing mothers generally receive an additional 6 to 8 weeks under salary continuation for medical leave. Parents are also given access to a 24-hour lactation consultant, and mothers traveling for business can ship their breast milk home for free.

Overall Benefits Rating: 4.0

AXP shares are up about 5% since it announced this expanded family-leave policy in December 2016.

17. Amazon

Benefit or Perk: Amazon offers two programs for new parents: Leave Share, which allows employees to share paid leave with their partner if the partner’s company does not offer paid leave, and Ramp Back, which gives new moms more control over easing back into work. All perks are available for corporate, customer service and fulfillment center employees.

Overall Benefits Rating: 3.7

18. Timberland

Benefit or Perk: Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

Overall Benefits Rating: 3.7

19. Gap Inc.

Benefit or Perk: Gap Inc. (and all of its brands) provides free access to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to corporate employees. Gap founders Doris and Donald Fisher worked closely with the museum to feature their prominent private collection.

Overall Benefits Rating: 3.6

20. Whole Foods Market

Benefit or Perk: Whole Foods offers a 20% store discount to all employees, including full-time and part-time employees.

Overall Benefits Rating: 3.6

***

A couple years ago at an investment conference I attended, Michael Falk (Partner — Focus Consulting Group) gave a presentation titled: Enough About the Assets Already! Falk’s message was basically to stop relying on your investment portfolio for retirement and to put the onus upon yourself.

In other words, what can you do to save money? Increase your income stream? Live healthier? Live longer? Enjoy your retirement?

Some of this can be associated with company benefits and perks …

As Falk said:

Think about working longer. Do you have a golf hobby? See if you can work at your favorite golf course (ranger, starter, cashier, etc.) or golf equipment store (sales, cashier). You can maybe golf for free or at least get a discount on golf or golf equipment.

You also get another source of part-time income. Where do you spend money? Work there. Get discounts, save money.

So, if you’re in the job market, don’t forget to factor in free eats, discounts, additional paid time off, company matches, tuition coverage and other company benefits and perks.

If you’re not in the job market, think about passing this advice along to a friend or family member the next time they’re on the job hunt.

Best,
Grant Wasylik

Originally from Pennsylvania, Grant graduated from Juniata College with an economics major and accounting minor. Since graduation, Grant has worked in the investment industry for almost two decades by serving in various roles … Prior to coming to…