By Farhan Shah
You’ve heard stories of the amazing perks that Google employees in America enjoy. If work has worn them down, they can grab a short break to enjoy a spot of bowling or have a friendly ping-pong match with their colleague-turned-temporary adversary.
PricewaterhouseCoopers associates get to take a whopping 5 years off for dependent care reasons while those under the employ of GoDaddy.com occasionally go for off-site employee activities like whitewater rafting and competitive cooking, all paid for by the company.
All these are done with good reason. A 2010 study conducted by a team of economists from Warwick Business School has conclusively proven that there is a clear link between employees’ happiness and their productivity. Simply put, the happier you are, the higher your productivity – which equates to good news for your company and its bottom line.
Although Singapore lags behind her American counterpart when it comes to employee perks, there are companies which offer unusually great benefits for their employees. We list a few companies across a myriad of industries that take the lead in making their working environment that much more incredible.
Rajah & Tann LLP
Over at Rajah & Tann, a full-service law firm that resides in the heart of the Central Business District, employees enjoy a myriad of perks. Besides daily breakfast servings, employees also tuck into a free lunch once a week. On the 23rd floor of the firm is a cafeteria featuring a foosball table, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Xbox for lawyers and staff to duke it out after exchanging verbal barbs in the courtroom.
Also, every alternate Friday is ‘Thirsty Friday’. Lawyers get to enjoy free flow of beer, wine, and snacks from 6pm to 8pm, all expenses paid.
Siemens Singapore doesn’t just create products of the highest quality; the company is also a big advocate of the belief that healthy and happy employees make for better workers.
According to Sharon Teo, PR Manager for Siemens, each employee will be allocated a specified amount of ‘Flex Dollars’ which can be used to upgrade the company insurance or claim for a variety of health expenses, ranging from mundane dental check-ups to even health equipment purchases.
It doesn’t just stop as that. Heeding the clarion call of the government for companies to adopt more pro-family measures, married employees can claim delivery expenses for their first two newborns – S$1,800 per child for the male staff and S$2,500 per child for the fairer sex.
If you’re not already green with envy, Siemens employees who are over 40 years old are also entitled to a S$300 bi-annual health screening claim! Now, that’s welfare.
Pad the floor with cushions as you’ll be picking up your jaw after reading what Cherie Hearts, purveyor of premium childcare, offers its employees. Similar to Siemens Singapore, Dr Gurchran Singh and Dr Sam Yap, founders of Cherie Hearts, are great believers in work-life balance and make it a point to understand the needs of their employees.
Staff who enroll their children in the same childcare centre they work in do not have to fork out a single cent for school fees. Not only do they save a substantial amount of money (up to S$1,000 a month); they also get to monitor their child while working at the same time!
Cherie Hearts is also one of the first SMEs in Singapore to introduce the concept of the 4-day work week. An employee can put in a request to work from home one day a week, be it due to parental obligations or other family needs. The best part: there are no pay or benefit deductions for staff who choose to take up this scheme.
In addition, staff are encouraged to bring along their family members when they go on overseas work-related trips. Cherie Hearts will heavily subsidize and even occasionally fully pay for the travel costs of the family members!
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Luxury hotel chain, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, is not only concerned about creating the perfect home away from home for its guests but also for its employees. Celeste How, Senior Director for Human Resources at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, explains that to recognize the contributions of all its staff, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore gives each and every worker complimentary room nights at any Four Seasons hotel around the world.
After working for the first 6 months, all employees will receive 3 complimentary nights. This number increases the longer an employee stays with Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, and can go up to a maximum of 20 complimentary nights! To put that into perspective, anyone who wishes to stay in Four Seasons Hotel Singapore will have to fork out roughly S$13,400 for a 20-night stay.
Keeping employees motivated is far from an exact science – some may prefer monetary handouts, others health benefits, flexible work schedules, or a casual dress code. But if there’s one thing these aforementioned companies have in common, it’s that they empower their employees.
Do you know of any other offbeat or interesting employee perks? Let us know in the comments box!
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