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10 Coolest Employee Perks Offered By Tech Companies

by Lee DeGraw
fact checked by Jamie Frater

A happy employee is worth a lot to a company. These days, opportunities abound for talented members of the tech workforce, and many employers are pulling out the big guns in order to secure the best and brightest talent out there. No perk seems too far out of reach. As millennials continue to enter the tech scene in droves, who knows what will be offered next . . . Perhaps sponsored space travel?

10 On-Site Chefs

Feeding your body well is essential to maintaining mental stamina, and tech companies are beginning to realize more and more that vending machines filled with junk aren’t the best way to ensure employee performance. They’re also realizing that free food results in a lot of happy people. At Airbnb, employees are treated to healthy, home-cooked meals and signature beverages free of charge. The kitchen provides three meals per day, and the menu is constantly changing.

Some tech giants like Google offer full-blown restaurants for their employees, and some of them become so packed that they even require reservations! The restaurants and cafes at Google vary, but Indian food, sushi, and smoothie bars are just a few of the options. SAS Institute, Inc., a software company based in North Carolina, has a 1-acre sustainable farm on-site, which supplies all of the produce for its employee cafeterias. Staff who want to take the farm-fresh food home after work can even request a “leftover” meal, which SAS chefs will pack up specially for them.

9 Paying Off Student Loans

Many college grads in the US are being crushed under the weight of their student loans, a financial burden that will follow them for decades after their time in school has ended. Many companies are realizing that helping to ease this fiscal strain is a very smart way to keep employees around and happy for a long time. For individuals who have chosen highly sought-after positions such as developers, offering to help pay off loans is also an excellent way for companies to secure the very best talent. CommonBond, a New York–based tech company, is helping its employees pay off their debt by contributing $100 a month to their loan repayments.

That may not seem like much, but over time, it really adds up! Were someone to work at CommonBond for 5 years, the company will have assisted in paying off $6,000 of the total loan. Unlike other companies that provide this perk (only about 3 percent of private sector businesses) CommonBond doesn’t place a cap on the loan assistance it provides, so as long as you are an employee, you will receive the monthly payment. With the total amount of US student debt surpassing $1 trillion in 2014, this is one seriously attractive perk.

8 Housecleaning Services

Working long hours often means that some tasks will fall by the wayside, like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and so on. At Evernote, a tech company in Northern California that has designed a highly used and extremely popular note-taking app, management wants to ensure that uncompleted household tasks aren’t distracting their employees. So, they offer to pay for a professional cleaning crew to come to employees’ homes twice a month and get the job done.

According to Evernote’s CEO, the philosophy behind this perk is simple: He wants to get “spouses and significant others on our side.” Considering that many people discuss their positions with their significant others, having a perk that benefits more than just the employee is a serious win. After all, who doesn’t want to come home to a polished toilet smelling of Pine-Sol?

7 Open Vacation Policies

Unlimited vacation time sounds too good to be true, right? That’s probably because it is for most of us, but for those working for some of the hottest tech companies, this dream perk is a reality. At PaperG, an advertising tech company, employees are given unlimited paid vacation, which they can take at their leisure. Netflix introduced its open vacation policy nearly a decade ago, realizing before most that work-life balance for its employees was essential.

Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Group, decided to take a page from Netflix and offer unlimited paid time off as well and is planning to extend it to other subsidiary groups owned by his corporation. Though unlimited vacation might seem nuts to some, consider that workers in the US are extremely behind in their time-off policies as it is. According to a study, workers in the EU are guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year and often get more. In contrast, around one out of every four Americans don’t even get paid vacation or holidays from their employers.

6 Baby Bucks

People have kids; it’s been happening forever, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. So, rather than turning a blind eye to the cost of raising a child (or children), some tech companies are deciding to embrace this age-old practice of populating the human race and start helping to relieve the cost of having a family. At Facebook, when an employee has a baby, they receive $4,000 to cover new baby costs and $3,000 a year to help with babysitting expenses.

There are also many tech companies that have extended not only maternity leave, but paternity leave as well. At Netflix, new mothers and fathers are welcome to take off as much time as they would like in the first year of their child’s life. At Twitter, new moms are given 20 weeks of paid maternity leave, and the company even hosts a mother mentor meeting once per quarter for all moms in the company to gather together and discuss child-rearing, share stories, and ask each other questions.

5 Travel Credits

While some tech giants pay for you to take time off, others actually pay for your travel! Airbnb was named Glassdoor’s Best Place to Work in 2016, and it’s easy to see why with all that they offer. In particular, the hotelier provides employees with an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and shack up in any Airbnb listing in the world. From tree houses in the Amazon to villas on the Amalfi Coast, the options are truly limitless.

At Loadspring, an IT Company in Massachusetts, employees are encouraged to travel abroad and given incentives to do so. Once employees have worked at the company for two years, they become eligible to receive up to $6,000 toward any travel outside the US. In addition, they are also given an extra week of vacation, so they can really experience another culture abroad. Loadspring’s website, Loadspring states, “[If travel] helps us attract and keep top talent and adventurous thinkers, so be it.”

4 Fertility Assistance

At Apple, the higher-ups have decided to provide a helping hand to those employees who are trying to conceive and are having a difficult time at it. How so? They will now help to cover costs associated with fertility treatment. Apple has agreed to give $20,000 to any member of their team who is undergoing infertility treatment, freezing their ova, or seeking sperm donors. This move is particularly clever of Apple, given that it’s trying its best to hire female engineers in what is a mostly male-dominated field.

Facebook is also offering this perk, though it’s still quite a rare perk in the tech world. Many companies offer insurance that will assist in financial aid when it comes to Viagra, birth control, and abortion, but fertility treatment remains off the table. Apple and Facebook are definitely ahead of the curve on this one, and by offering assistance, they ensure a higher retention rate and less stress for female employees, which allows them to focus more on their work. The two tech giants also offer these services to same-sex couples, whether they use a surrogate or in vitro fertilization.

3 Hobbies And Team Outings

To encourage a healthy work-life balance, many tech companies are coming up with ingenious ways to support employee hobbies. At Zynga, a video game developer, employees are given access to a relaxation lounge stocked with various arcade games and video games. Workers can go in and take some time to brush up on their gaming skills. At Insomniac Games, management offers movie days and supplies the popcorn. The office also includes on-site facilities that appeal to employees who like to unwind with physical activity, such as a basketball court, volleyball court, and a putting green.

Dropcam, yet another Bay Area tech company, offers a very unique way for employees to experience a favorite hobby of the CEO—free helicopter rides. Known as the “Dropcopter,” every employee is given a voucher that entitles him or her to one free ride with friends and family in the aircraft. If that isn’t cool enough, the CEO is the pilot. For anyone looking for a less wild experience, don’t worry: Tumblr offers a fun, but less airborne, experience. The social networking site organizes paid team outings to fun places like Medieval Times.

2 Bottomless Apple Products

Its seems like Apple is basically its own planet, and the rest of us merely orbit around its magnificence. Although everyone has their own brands preferences, there’s no question that Apple and Google products take the cake when it comes to intelligent design. At Pinterest, the photo-sharing website, employees take regular trips to the Apple Store to make purchases on Pinterest’s dime.

The company believes that whatever is needed to be productive is what employees should be using. So, when workers feel the need for the latest and greatest piece of equipment, they head over to the local Apple Store during company hours and pick out whatever they want. Pinterest even has an employee dedicated to catering to the needs of its workers. Whether it’s bringing in new fitness classes, testing out new fun office promo items, or knowing people’s favorite snacks, this person takes care of it all, so Pinterest employees don’t have to.

1 Gender Reassignment Surgery

Happily, more and more companies and health networks are opening up their minds and wallets to providing coverage associated with the costs of gender reassignment surgery. Whether it’s financial assistance or offering counseling options, the discussion surrounding gender reassignment is definitely being held in the corporate sphere. It’s known as Transgender coverage. Accenture, an IT giant, pays for all costs associated with gender reassignment surgery for employees.

There are also many costs leading up to the actual surgery that aren’t cheap, such as hormone therapy and psychiatric services. Netflix, Tesla, and Facebook have all added gender reassignment as a staff benefit. In reality, the offer to support individual employees undergoing these transitions is a PR gold mine. Since very few employees actually take advantage of the benefits (about one in every 15,000) and the cost of adding coverage to plans is relatively low for companies, so the employers have little to lose. Adding the benefits shows that the company is progressive and values equality, and doing so can attract talent searching for those values.

Lee is a freelance writer with an inquiring mind. She is open to being recruited by tech companies that wish to pay her solely in perks.

fact checked by Jamie Frater