Perks galore
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - February 3, 2013 - 12:00am

Fortune magazine has just released the top 100 companies in the US to work for.  It’s interesting to trawl through the reasons why it’s so great to work for these employers, and see what employees value in their workplace.

A few lawfirms make the cut, despite the general depression surrounding associates slaving away after law school.  Alston & Bird, an Atlanta based law firm (No. 23) reportedly gives away $10,000 and as much as 90 days off (with pay) if an employee adopts.  That probably is enough to assuage discombobulated lawyers gone infertile due to the high stress environment they’re in.  Perkins Coie in Seattle (No. 33) grants employees who render more than ten years of service a two month paid vacation.  Hopefully, not at a mental facility.

Arnold & Porter (No. 62), a Washington DC based firm, grants mothers as much as 18 weeks maternity leave, although that bias for women is made up for by the grant of an equal amount of time for adoption leaves.  Bingham Mccutcheon of Boston (No. 82)  is unique.  They recorded 44,000 hours of volunteer work rendered by staff the past year (since I imagine volunteering would be much more fun than litigating), and in a marriage of these worlds, the firm selects one attorney a year who will do nothing but work on pro bono cases.

Not to be outdone, the Big 6 (or has this been whittled down to 5) are also represented in the top with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (No. 81) noted for sending 400 employees on a trip to Belize.  Well, not exactly for a vacation, but to improve schools and build playgrounds.  So at least there was an element of charity built into the junket.  Deloitte (No. 47), in turn lets some (not all) employees take up to six months off if they wish to work at a non-profit organization.  Meanwhile they get partial pay and full benefits.

Some unique perks:  if you work for Mars, the candy maker, (No. 95) you can get free candy all day long at the dispensing machines in the office.  Perfect only for those with no sugar level issues, but that is not me.  Employees are also allowed to chew gum during meetings, provided, of course, that the brand is Wrigleys.  You can even bring dogs to work, and your best friend can stay under your desk the whole day.

In Dreamworks Animation, (rank 12th) employees are treated to fresh juice stations where they can get smoothies.  We probably don’t need to speculate on what Starbucks employees can get as freebies, but in addition, the No. 94 ranked employer already doles out benefits and stock rewards even to those employees who only log in 20 hours a week (my ideal work week).

More substantively, employers who focused on wellness got top marks from their peons.  Microsoft (No. 75) not only has a health center, it also has its own pharmacy ready to dispense various drugs to engineers stressing out from Apple’s and Android’s dominance, as well as a chiropractic clinic and a wellness center.

Of course, we can’t ignore the No. 1 employer, Google, which gave out 100,000 hours of free massages last year (oh, the headaches involved in battling China), to be enjoyed by smug employees after profuse sweating.  No, not from the unseemly heat felt from competitors, but from taking advantage of their seven acre sports complex, with basketball courts and a hockey rink as part of the attraction.

One favorite is the Boston Consulting Group (No. 4), which issues a red flag when an employee is working too many long hours.  No explanation as to what happens when the red flag is raised, but presumably, in my ideal world, the employee is forced to stop working and go home.

Probably the best employers are those who keep their employees.  Good news for GM Bruce Winton over at the Marriott hotel: ten percent of Marriott International’s employees have been working there (read: not fired) for over 20 years.

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