Nontraditional Benefits, Unusual Perks Growing In Popularity

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Apr. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

Southwest Power Pool built a cafe at its new headquarters as a way of enticing employees to stay on campus during leisure hours.

“It seems odd for us since we’re a law firm,” he said. “Sometimes we’re thought of in certain ways: Attorneys bury themselves in hours of work, and so forth, but we’ve approached this from the standpoint that we want to balance employees with their work and family lives.”

He said flexible work hours are offered to all of the firm’s employees, from secretaries to paralegals to lawyers. This practice works, he said, because the firm is not what he called an “eat-what-you-kill” firm.

He said there are many firms where “attorneys don’t necessarily share work. It’s all about billable hours and production, things like that. We’re not that way. We’re a team-oriented law firm. We pass work around. We work in teams.”

It all ties together, he said: If employees didn’t work as a team, the flexible hours wouldn’t work, and vice versa. And those practices in turn reduce stress and aid in both retaining and recruiting employees.

“Employees that have less stress generally have more of a positive attitude,” Strickland said.

Community-Building

Nontraditional benefits beyond flexible hours take many forms. Even the idea of a relaxed dress code can be presented as a benefit.

“Overall, the dress code is much more casual than it was,” DeStafano said. “It seems silly, but that’s a big deal.”

Some other nontraditional benefits are geared toward building a community within the workplace. Younger workers, especially, DeStafano said, “are looking for more fun in the workplace. I hear that a lot.”

She said the Central Arkansas HR Association has several groups that meet up for exercise like walking and cycling.

“One of the groups I work with … has a ‘biggest loser’ competition every year,” DeStafano said. “It’s a fun deal. It’s goofy stuff and it doesn’t cost a thing.”

When Southwest Power Pool of Little Rock, for example, constructed its new campus in 2012, it built a cafe space that hosts local food vendors, with the idea that more employees eating on campus would build relationships. It also installed showers and a locker room to encourage employees to exercise together during work hours.

 

 

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