NEW YORK - Sabbaticals, massages or a home maid service? Bike maintenance, tattoos or guitar lessons?
Some small and medium-sized companies are offering quirky and enviable perks to try to attract and keep the best workers.
The hundred staffers at marketing firm Velvet Media can periodically spend a month working at any of its offices - Denver, Tokyo, Bangkok or Venice, Italy - with the company paying their expenses, co-CEO Daniele Gatti says.
Many businesses provide such out-of-the-norm perks because they want staffers to have a rewarding environment - something likely to resonate as people who deal with work email and respond to texts at all hours demand more satisfaction at work.
"We extend work into employees' lives," says Neil Vaswani, CEO of Corestream, a benefits consulting company. "We have to start extending them a little bit of quid pro quo."
A look at the unusual benefits at some companies:
- Monthly maid service, money toward "whatever makes you happy" - like yoga, manicures or pottery classes. Who's offering them: The Zebra, an Austin, Texas-based car insurance comparison website, with about 100 employees.
"When you design perks, you think about providing tools that are differentiators when you're trying to attract top talent," chief operating officer Joshua Dziabiak says.
- Monthly massages, Uber and Lyft rides.
Who's offering them: C3 Metrics, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based company that analyzes advertising and website viewership, with about 40 employees.
"Technology work can be stressful at times," co-founder Jeff Greenfield says. "Massages not only counteract some of the impact of standing in front of the screen, they're a move toward a healthier lifestyle."
- Thirty-day paid sabbatical every three years, vacation expenses, $1,000 reimbursement for any kind of lessons, including guitar, cooking or flight school.
Who's offering: Basecamp, a Chicago-based maker of project management software, with about 50 employees.
"We want to find opportunities that benefit people outside of the office," says CEO Jason Fried, who says the perks were the result of employees' suggestions "plus our own thoughts about what makes a better company."
- Performance rewards of a staffer's choosing can include tattoos, massages, dinner or concert tickets; employees can work at home one day a week and be on call or work remotely the day after a national holiday.
Who's offering them: Tinsel, a New York-based event design and planning company, with about 10 full-time staffers.
Co-owner Erica Taylor says she and her business partner, Adette Contreras, wanted to reward staffers whose jobs include odd hours, early mornings, nights and weekends. "We want to make sure they feel we're investing in them, that it's reciprocal."
- Bose noise-canceling headphones, soccer tickets, Amazon gift cards, daily lunches at nearby restaurants.
Who's offering: Geniuslink, a Seattle-based company that manufactures software to streamline online retailing, with about a dozen full-time employees
"It allows us to compete against startups that have a lot of money to throw around," CEO Jesse Lakes says. Another reason for the headphones: Those who need to concentrate can have a hard time in an open work environment where other people are talking.
- New mothers can bring babies under 6 months old to work, the company pays for bicycle gear and maintenance, and Pilates classes are held in the office twice a week
Who's offering: Adventure Life, a travel company based in Missoula, Mont., with about two dozen employees
"We need to walk the talk by encouraging people to do many of the activities that we offer to our customers," CEO Brian Morgan says.
- Yoga equipment, shuffleboard, a pool table, a rock climbing wall, and bicycles at the office.
Who's offering: The Melting Pot, a restaurant franchisor with about 65 employees at its home office in Tampa, Fla.
"Take a look at job satisfaction. There's been a steady decline since the late 1980s," CEO Bob Johnston says. "We have an obligation to give people a good work environment."