Archive for March, 2011

Most Valuable Workplace Perks

When you’re interviewing for a job, companies often try to entice you with fancy extras to sweeten the deal. Global Point, a New York City advertising agency, offers employees free concert tickets. One Birmingham, Alabama law firm offers employees free snacks, soda and birthday presents. David Weekley, a house builder in the South, offers employees a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new David Weekley home.

It’s easy to be enticed by the lure of free Diet Coke and a chance to see Billy Joel perform “Piano Man,” but how much are those perks really worth? We crunched a few hypothetical numbers, and here’s what we found out.

Free soda
If your 5-bottle-a-day Diet Coke habit means you’re close and personal friends with the vending machine delivery guy at your current job, then free soda is probably music to your ears (and wallet). But, for the more modest soda drinkers out there (say people who drink one $1.25 bottle a day for the 260 days a year they spend at work), the benefits fizzle out.
Value: $325 a year

Free coffee
As with the free soda, you have to be a coffee addict for free coffee to make a huge difference in your bank account. If you stop by your local Dunkin Donuts or gas station every day for your cuppa joe in the morning, you’re spending, on average, $360 a year (that’s $1.38 per cup times 260 working days a year). Now, there are plenty among us who scoff at the thought of one cup of coffee a day (those are probably the same among us who stay up to watch late night television). So for those, just double the benefits.
Value: $360 – $720 a year

Free gym membership

This is one of those benefits that is valuable for both the go-getters and the well-intentioned among us. The former will actually use the free gym membership the company offers and the latter won’t have to feel guilty for paying for a gym membership they never use. While we didn’t calculate the long-term health benefits having (and using!) a gym membership, we know they’ll extend beyond the 40 bucks a month the average gym membership costs.
Value: $480 a year

Free lunch
paper bag lunch
A free lunch is a definite perk to those among us who hate scrambling to slap together a PBJ before work in the morning, or are tired of ponying up six bucks everytime you want a turkey and cheese sub. Beyond convenience, there are financial payoffs for a free lunch. If you eat out every workday for a year (say, 260 days a year) for an average of $8 a meal, that’s $2,080 a year for lunch. If you are a bit more financially savvy, and you instead bag your lunch for the average price of, say, $3 per lunch, you’d be spending $780 annually.
Value: $780 to $2,080 a year

401K match
Say you make $50,000 a year and your employer has a 401K that you can contribute to. And say your employer matches 50 percent of your annual contributions up to 6 percent (which is the national average). You, being the financially-savvy person that you are, contribute 6 percent of your salary. This means, that every year, your company is giving you $1,500 just for being financially savvy.
Value: $1,500 a year

graduation cap and diploma
AT J.M. Smucker, employees who chose to continue their education are reimbursed 100 percent of tuition cost, with no limit. You keep learning, they keep paying, which we think is as sweet as … well … jam. Now, of course, the Smuckers program is pretty unique. Most companies won’t reimburse you for an entire degree. But many will pay for you to take classes that will enhance your skill set within the company. According to an article, the increase in lifetime income from an Associate’s degree in business can be as much as $93,000. For a bachelor’s degree, it’s $349,000. If you work for approximately 40 years, that’s like paying yourself an extra $2,325 to $8,725 a year. If your company is willing to reimburse your for the costs of continuing your education, the payoffs for you are huge.
Value: $2,325 to $8,725 a year (even after you leave your job)

You can’t escape news about the rising cost of health care. It’s top of mind and for good reason: if you or a loved one gets sick or suffers an injury, the expenses can add up quickly (a five-day hospital stay can cost more than $20,000. That’s the cost of a mid-size sedan). The average cost for a family in 2009 was $13,375; for a single person its $4,824. Let’s say your company picks up 65 percent of the tab (companies on average pick up 50 to 75 percent of the cost of health insurance), that’s $8,700 for a family and $3,100 for an individual. So, as you see, health insurance coverage is an extremely valuable perk.
Value: $3,100 to $8,700

7 Sweetest Workplace Perks

OK, so we know it’s never good to covet thy neighbors sweet workplace perks, but it’s hard not to when those perks include everything from free beer to free travel abroad. We rounded up seven lust-worthy perks that might make you ask your boss for an at-work canine companion instead of a silly old raise.

1. Infusionsoft
If you’re still hoping to relive your glory days playing college hoops or high school football, then you’ll feel right at home at this software marketing company based in Arizona. Infusionsoft is centered in a converted warehouse which boasts both an indoor basketball court and an indoor football field. For the more literary-oriented, there’s also a library on site. If that weren’t enough, employees can fill up at a free cereal bar, open daily. Three Cheerio-s!
image courtesy of

2. Amgen, Inc.
Amgen, Inc. is a mecca for new moms. This biotech company in California offers Lamaze and breastfeeding classes as well as day care on site, plus lactation rooms and one-on-one nutrition counseling.
Photo courtesy of

3. Loadspring Solutions
Interested in becoming a globe trotter? Why not do it on your company’s dime? Loadspring Solutions, a Massachusetts software company, gives employees up to $5,000 and an extra week off for traveling outside the country. Tahiti here we come!

4. MillerCoors, LLC.
After a long day at the office, who doesn’t like to head to their nearest watering hole for a little post-work imbibing? But who wants the hassle of actually leaving the office? Employees at Miller Brewing in Milwaukee can throw back free (that’s right free!) pints at Fred’s Pub, an on-site bar, which touts 7 types of beer on tap and 13 bottled varieties. The company also opened its Chicago headquarters, which features a 16th-floor rooftop bar and terrace overlooking the Chicago River – no need to pay for brews there, either. Wonder what kind of tips the bartender gets.
Photo courtesy of Al_HikesAZ’s on Flickr

5. Door Number 3
We’re as surprised as you that not one but two companies we came across offer employees free beer. Of course, at Door Number 3, an Austin-based advertising agency, you might have to wear a sombrero while enjoying a cold one. The company fosters an environment of “spontaneous fun,” where mariachi parties featuring Mexican beer served from the office kegerator can happen at any moment. Channel your inner Jack Sparrow on Sept. 19 – Door Number 3 also celebrates Talk Like a Pirate Day (and yes, that’s a real holiday).
Photo courtesy of

6. S.C. Johnson

How many times have you wished for more hours in the day to take care of all those little errands you can’t day because you’re stuck at work? S.C. Johnson found a way to give you those hours (sort of). The company offers employees access to a concierge that offers discounted services on everything from picking up groceries, ordering flowers, and mailing packages, to changing your oil, returning library books and finding deals on car insurance.
Photo courtesy of

7. Google
In the realm of employee perks, Google is like the kiss-up, straight-A student who sits at the front of the class and brings the teacher an apple every day. While the rest of the business world sits in the back, meekly offering free coffee and access to a parking garage, Google gives its employees free meals from a choice of 16 gourmet cafeterias, free haircuts, free laundry, four gyms, a game room, on-site doctors and subsidized massages. Oh, yeah, and you can bring your dog to work. Bow. Wow.

10 Cool Things About Working in the Pixar Office

Most of us slog away at our keyboards, hidden away in generic burlap office cubicles, with no idea of any other work environment. The folks at Pixar are here to ruin that for you, by showing you what their employees think is normal office life. How cool is their daily grind? Picture rooms full of cereal, with cartoon characters at every turn, and ping-pong tables fighting foosball tables for the most-fun office furniture award.

That’s reality at the company that brought you the Toy Story movies, Up, and Monsters Inc. And this is what your life would be like, if you worked at Pixar.

10. Superheroes Guard Your Office


Forget security systems. Pixar is guarded by the Incredibles. Which is good, because your coworkers would be actual monsters. Fortunately they don’t appear unless you’ve been animating for twelve hours.

9. Your Coworkers Are Actually Creative


And not just while making up excuses to stay home from work. (Seriously. We have worked with people who would call in sick with diseases that were cured 100 years ago.)

8. Buzz + Woody + Legos = Heaven for Toddlers


If all those movies about genius three-year-olds were true, this would be where they worked. We hope they’d wear tiny suits and ties while they worked, because that would be awesome.

7. The Lunchroom Has Connecting Flights to Anywhere You’d Want to Go


Could be a cafeteria, or it could be the coolest airport ever. Also, it’s totally possible that the roof turns into wings.

6. The Best Wall Art Ever


Eat your heart out, Successories. Animators make the only truly inspirational office art we’ve seen.

5. Pixar Will See Your Foosball…


…and raise you a ping-pong table. Seriously, if you add some beer, this office becomes the coolest bar we’ve seen.

4. Oh, Wait. There Is Beer.


This is not an official Pixar beer mug. We assume that they pass those out at the Friday Beer Bash, which is a real thing. (Seriously. It’s mentioned as a perk in the ad for interns on their website.)

3. If Your Coworkers Are Bad…


…you can feed them to the shark. How often would that come in handy in your office? And hey, there’s caution tape up. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

2. All the Cereal You Can Eat


Lots of offices offer, say, free bagels once a week, or a monthly pizza day. Pixar, on the other hand, has a giant room full of cereal, which is maybe the best thing ever.

1. Cube, Sweet Cube


Animators at Pixar work in cute little huts instead of cubicles. So in addition to working at one of the coolest companies ever, they work in cottages that are literally bigger and more luxurious than most of the apartments we’ve lived in.

Photo credits: 10., 9., 8., 7., 6., 5., 4., 3., 2. ., 1.