Perks that work: employee benefits becoming ever more enticing

Fancy three free meals a day? Lounging on a beanbag as you work? A post-work massage?

Airbnb has its own office bar, with a happy hour every Thursday.

Airbnb has its own office bar, with a happy hour every Thursday.

Fri, May 16, 2014, 17:14

For many workers in Ireland, the idea of benefits is probably limited to health insurance, some paid maternity leave and above-average holiday time. However, more and more companies are going to great lengths to recruit talented employees - and keep them from jumping ship to competitors.

An increasingly important part of the equation is benefits. Companies are providing employees with everything from gourmet meals to free alcohol, onsite massages to dry cleaning services.

Take Diageo. It has topped the list of best large places to work in Ireland on more than one occasion. And it’s no wonder, as the multinational company offers some pretty good perks. Irish employees can avail of a three course lunch every day - for free - and then they can work it off at the free on-site gym and swimming pool.

That’s not all; if they ever have an allergic reaction, they can fear not as there is also an onsite medical centre with GP and pharmacy.”Employees can avail of free GP visits and they can bring their family members to the doctor for free too,” says David Smith, Diageo’s country director for Ireland.

He adds that all employees are part of a profit-sharing and bonus scheme, and also get a free product allowance and free parking.”Our company values each employee as a person, and recognises the contribution that families make to people’s lives too.”

The drinks company pays for home broadband internet service for many of its employees, enabling them to work from home and offers its employees flexible working hours.”They might work part of the day in the office, go collect the kids from school, and then work the rest of the day from home,” he says. Employees at the company can also buy or sell their holidays if they want to take more or less time off each year.

The company will also match any money they raise for charity. “If anybody raises money for charity, we will match that amount up to €1,000. Last year, we gave €1m to charities in Ireland, with most of it going to charities that employees are involved in,” says Smith.

It’s commonly known that perks are a hallmark of working for tech companies, and Microsoft’s Irish operations are no exception. The company, which employs about 1,200 people in Ireland, gave every Irish employee a free Surface tablet and Nokia smartphone last year.

Like Diageo, the company also offers flexible working hours, with many employees working from home one day per week. “We also have family days where staff can bring their kids to an event on site. We might have an Easter egg hunt, or Santa at Christmas time,” says Microsoft recruitment manager Deirdre Moran.

If an employee wants to pursue further education, Microsoft will pay for two-thirds the cost of their course, be it a diploma, certificate or even a masters. There is also an on-site nail bar and dry cleaners.

Bonuses are one of the main perks of working for Intel in Ireland, with an annual performance bonus, a quarterly profit bonus and a factory excellence bonus on offer to employees. The annual performance bonus programme, which is based on the company’s annual performance, add to each employee’s cash compensation, while the factory excellence bonus rewards factory employees for operational excellence and meeting desired business goals.