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By Lynne Gowers on 30th July 2015
Everyone knows that looking after your employees and keeping them happy is good for business; but it’s not always an easy thing to do. A good coffee machine, football table, and the occasional lunch out can only go so far when it comes to raising office morale and boosting productivity. We take a look at some of the unusual – and extreme – tactics companies use to look after their employees well-being.
Exciting… and offices… aren’t two words that are generally put together in the same sentence. But in some lucky workplaces, they do exist.
Once you start thinking out of the grey, pegboard office box you’ll find that the design of your working space can help to inspired and motivate your employees – as well as look after their emotional (or even physical) well-being. Red Bull has a ping-pong meeting room and a giant slide, Google has bowling alleys and mini-golf and Facebook has a games room complete with Xbox’s, Guitar Hero and the rather more traditional chessboard.
Even if you don’t operate in the food industry, a free fruit bowl is cheap, easy and appreciated. If you want to go one step further you can always take a leaf out of Campbell’s book; their USA office runs healthy cooking lessons and provides subsidised healthy meals in their office canteen. They probably also give out a lot of free soup.
If good food just isn’t good enough, some companies also provide their staff with free food. If it’s a food brand, you’re pretty much guaranteed free samples – Innocent provide free smoothies, Mars and Wrigley give staff free sweets and Starbucks get free coffee beans (plus unlimited drinks when at work).
Nothing beats a bit of exercise to get those feel-good endorphins flowing and kick that 3pm desk slump. Yahoo’s Californian offices have a fitness centre which offers cardio-kickboxing, pilates, and yoga classes and Microsoft have implemented treadmill desks for some of its employees.
Google and Hootsuite are just two companies that advocate employee sleep. Google has special snooze pods, whereas Hootsuite has a nap room. We presume that pillows, blankets and milky hot drinks are also included.
Netflix and Virgin both have unusual holiday policies – in that there is no holiday policy. When both companies realised that their staff do far more than their contracted 9-5, they realised they should stop tracking their time off too. Employees don’t need to ask for prior permission either; they just need to make sure all projects are up to date and that their work is covered when they’re away.
In a similar vein Netflix also scrapped their expenses policy, trusting its staff with the responsibility of billing their expenses fairly and acting in the company’s best interests.
If scrapping annual leave isn’t progressive enough, you can always go the extra mile and stump up the cash for your employees’ holidays. American tech company FullContact give their staff $7,500 to pay for their trip away, on the condition that they don’t do any work and actually go on a vacation.
On the other end of the paid-for holiday scale, Chinese billionaire Li Jinyuan recently spent around 13 million euros on an all-inclusive four day trip to France for over 6,000 of his employees. The holiday was to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, but they also broke a Guinness World Record when they were there.
Bet that all-inclusive trip to Greece doesn’t seem quite so attractive now – especially since you have to pay for it yourself!
Whilst we certainly don’t endorse drinking-and-working, there’s no denying that it can help keep spirits high (pun intended). Dropbox has whiskey Fridays and Yelp has a custom beer pump which provides draught beer on-tap for staff and visitors.
Although not all of these ideas are easy to recreate without some serious HR bribery, pub Fridays has to be one of the easiest. Just don’t blame us when you roll in at 2am having embarrassed yourself with that Britney impression at the impromptu karaoke session.
Our handy guide to claiming expenses through your limited company looks at what you can and can’t claim tax relief on through your company
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