6 Creative Employee Incentives From Thriving Businesses Jonathan Herrick Once your organization has found the right talent for your team, how do you keep them? While all businesses these days offer the standard holiday pay, sick pay and other health benefits, companies are now looking for ideas over and above the norm to hold onto their employees for longer periods of time. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary, consider taking modeling your employee incentives after these organizations. Fully Paid Employee Vacation FullContact actually pays for their employee vacations. In fact, they offer their staff $7,500 each year as an encouragement to take a holiday, and insist on a minimum of three weeks’ annual leave every year. There is, however, one stipulation; staff must fully disconnect, and that means no work-related emails, phone calls, or texts – no work, period! Image credit: FullContact Other companies offer similar packages to incentivize holiday breaks. BambooHR reimburses their staff for up to $2,000 a year to cover vacation expenses, and Evernote pays its employees $1,000 a year to take five consecutive days off in a row, whether you travel or not. 401K Match-Up Google has many perks which benefit the employee, but one in particular which people appreciate, is the 401K match-up that matches 50% of the employee’s contributions up to a maximum of $8,250. This not only ensures that their employees are looked after today, but they are also supported when they do eventually decide to retire. If your company is considering doing a 401K match-up such as this, then make sure you do your homework so you can see how it will benefit your company, and the lives of your employees. Apple matches up to 6% of an employee’s eligible pay, while Southwest Airlines will match employee contributions dollar-for-dollar up to a range of their eligible salary between 8.3-9.3%. Image credit: Southwest Airlines Paid Employee Activities Many companies will put their hand in their pocket at the end of the year for an annual Christmas party or an afternoon of bowling offsite. However, GoDaddy goes one step further and offers off-site activities for their employees every month without exception during work hours. And there is seemingly no limit to the events they organize as past activities include trapeze classes, gold panning, and white water rafting. Chatmeter also hosts team quarterly outings and monthly team allowances to support work-life balance. As stated in one of their job descriptions, they provide, “wicked fun happy hours, catered Thursday lunches, and awesome company outings on the San Diego Bay.” On-Site Fitness Centers Finding time to get to the gym during a standard workday can be difficult, and that is why many companies operate fitness centers or their equivalent on site. Yahoo offers onsite yoga, Pilates, golf courses and cardio-kickboxing from the comfort of their own offices. Square provides personal training as well as massages, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and Google’s Mountain View headquarters hosts basketball courts and a bowling alley. OpenDNS holds rooftop yoga sessions, while Chesapeake Energy has an indoor climbing wall as well as a 72,000 square foot fitness center with swimming pool and a sand volleyball court. Even if you can only fit a ping pong table into your premises, it is bound to motivate those who work for your company. Pet-Friendly Offices Animal lovers, and in particular, dog owners, will appreciate this one! Airbnb operates a dog-friendly office, as does Build-A-Bear Workshop who celebrates Milford, the Chief Executive Dog’s birthday by throwing a party for all the other dogs every year. Salesforce has an official “Puppyforce” policy in place offering special soundproofed walls, water bowls, and dog beds. They also assist with pet insurance, dog walking, and pet supplies. Image Credit: Glassdoor Mars also has a pet-friendly culture offering pet feeding and boarding programs for traveling staff and even an annual costume category for their canine counterparts. While it was once unheard of, the number of companies who offer bring your pet to work is on the rise with companies such as Activision Blizzard, Workday, and Autodesk getting in on the animal action. Ongoing Training and Development While training should be an automatic part of any company’s offerings, some organizations go above and beyond the standard. Smucker’s, through their Smucker Tuition Program, reimburses 100% of external tuition costs with no cap, and free technical training for new workplace skills. AT&T through their aptly named AT&T University run an executive-led program focused on leadership and management development to inspire a culture of continuous learning. Starbucks also has a tuition reimbursement program that provides support for professional development including textbooks wherever you are in your academic journey or career.