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.


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.

The quarterly profit bonus directly connects Intel employees to the quarterly profits of the company.

Through this bonus, Intel shares its profits with employees by paying a cash bonus four times a year.

Intel also runs a stock programme, whereby most employees have the opportunity to own company stock, and a stock purchase plan which allows them to buy shares at a discount through payroll deductions. Employees can allocate between two and five per cent of their eligible pay to the programme. Stock is then purchased at 85 per cent of the market price.

To encourage continued education, Intel provides financial assistance (tuition reimbursement or prepaid graduate tuition) for eligible employees who are completing job-related degree programs, coursework, certificates, and foreign language training.

Google, on Dublin’s Barrow Street, was one of the first tech firms to famously provide free food, three meals a day, plus unlimited snacks. However, that seems to be the norm among internet companies now. So what else does the company offer in terms of perks? Travel insurance for a start. Googlers can travel without worries as employees and their families are covered with travel insurance and emergency assistance - even on personal holidays.

Google believes that no workplace is complete without a nap pod, where employees can have a quick power nap during working hours, and the Irish office is no exception. The company also has a games room, a music room and a full-time masseuse, which all employees can visit during working hours.

Down the road at Airbnb in Ringsend, you will even find a bar in the office. “Every Thursday we have a happy hour at our in-office bar. We have beer on tap at the bar and we open bottles of wine,” says Aisling Hassell, Dublin office lead with the website, which allows you to book or list accommodation

in more than 34,000 cities around the world. The job function of three Airbnb employees in Dublin is “employee experience”. They organise events for staff such as weekend hikes, tours of the city and massages.

“It was free for all employees, as all events are,” says Hassell. “They are currently organising a challenge event where employees will climb Carrauntoohil and plant an Airbnb flag at the top.”

When it comes to internship programmes, interns at professional services firm EY, which employs more than 1,300 people in Ireland, fare very well. Each year, the company gives two Irish interns the opportunity to attend the EY international intern leadership conference in Disneyland, Florida with over 1,300 other interns from EY worldwide. This allows students to network with both other interns and the company’s global leadership team.

At consultancy group Accenture, an employee discount programme is in place, offering a range of discounts to workers for shops, events, restaurants and fitness centre memberships. The company offers employees a number of wellness benefits including free health assessments and provide a contribution towards eyesight testing and toward the cost of lenses. The company also offers a wide range of clubs and societies to promote mental and physical wellbeing such as surfing, cookery, golf, sailing, LGBT, choir, photography, rugby, team outings and language exchange.