Puppies and Perks, how to keep Employees Happy

Posted by martin.parnell |

At the weekend, I was browsing through the articles on MSN UK, when I came across a headline from Business Insider UK, 4 companies that give staff paid time off when they get a puppy.  I wondered if this was just some quirky gimmick, so decided to see if I could find any other articles on the subject.

It turns out there were several. Kaytie Zimmerman, wrote one in Forbes magazine in May 2017, under the heading: Puppy Parental Leave Among The Newest Benefit Offerings In The United States. We are told that this is the latest benefit policies being offered by some employers. As an example, Zimmerman writes about a company named BrewDog, a beer producer based out of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. They not only encourage having dogs in the workplace, but also offer a week paid leave for the adoption or purchase of a new dog.

In fact, according to a press release, BrewDog allows both. “Yes, having dogs in our offices makes everyone else more chilled and relaxed – but we know only too well that having a new arrival – whether a mewling pup or unsettled rescue dog – can be stressful for human and hound both. So we are becoming the first in our industry to give our staff a working week’s leave on us to help settle a new furry family member into their home.” BrewDog’s Puppy Parental Leave policy will also be available to employees in their new Columbus, Ohio, location, opening soon.

Zimmerman notes that: “Knowing that this benefit is offered in the United States, many can be quick to criticize the company, arguing that most companies do not have adequate leave policies for parents of human children, let alone canine kids. While it’s certainly a popular topic, pitting one week of puppy leave against six to twelve weeks of leave for a new child is not a fair comparison.

BrewDog touches on this type of argument in their press release: “Alongside this, we are also proud to be a Living Wage employer and offer sabbaticals for our crew as well as sharing 10% of the annual profits of our company between everyone who made it happen. Plus we embrace beer knowledge with the highest number of Cicerone-trained staff of any company in the world – and we also offer enhanced maternity and paternity pay for two-legged arrivals!”

As they announced, employees with new human children are given adequate leave to care for their new family member. It seems that it is possible to have a good balance of benefit offerings, as BrewDog has shown with their dog and parental leave policies.”

I must confess, I was left rather baffled. I asked myself, where does one draw the line? Is there a bias towards dogs? What if an employee obtains a new cat? Or even a goldfish or gerbil?

This got me wondering about perks offered by some other, better-known companies. In February 2017, The Team at Glassdoor, in their “Glassdoor Benefit Reviews”, listed the Top 20 Employee Benefits & Perks for that year.

Here are the top 10:

1. IKEA offers up to four months of paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees with at least one year of experience at the company, regardless of whether they work at a retail store or the corporate headquarters. 

2. Reebok encourages employees to reach their personal fitness goals by providing an on-site gym with Crossfit classes. 

3. Bain & Company, The Best place to Work in 2017, holds an annual two-day, global “Bain World Cup” soccer tournament open to all employees. 2016’s event was in Brussels. The 2017 tournament was held in Los Angeles. 

4. Goldman Sachs offers coverage for gender reassignment surgery, a benefit the company has offered since 2008. 

5. Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns. Known for its competitive benefits package, many Facebook interns report earning more than $7,000 per month. 

6. Scripps Health cares about the wellbeing of its employees’ furry family members, offering pet health insurance for cats and dogs. 

7. Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for its employees, covering an online bachelor’s degree program through Arizona State University. 

8. American Express has a parental leave policy which offers up to five months of fully-paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Birthing mothers generally receive an additional 6 to 8 weeks under salary continuation for medical leave. Parents are also given access to a 24-hour lactation consultant, and mothers traveling for business can ship their breast milk home for free.   

9. Eventbrite helps keep employees healthy by offering a monthly $60 wellness stipend, which can be used on everything from gym dues to juice cleanses. 

10. Whole Foods Market offers a 20% store discount to all employees, including full-time and part-time employees.

It seems that some companies will go to extraordinary lengths to please their employees. I wonder if you have any ideas as to the “Perfect Perk” that might persuade you to seek employment with a particular company?

This doesn’t apply to me, personally, as I work from home, but I may not sharing this article with my wife and business partner, Sue, as I know she has a hankering for a house-rabbit!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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