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Posted: June 01, 2014

Colorado’s 20 “perk”-iest companies

Firms that offer more than a paycheck to entice and keep talent

Maria Martin

FREE HAIRCUTS, NAP PODS, ON-SITE KINDERGARTENS, pools, laundry services. Known to some as “hidden paychecks,” creatively crafted employee benefits have the potential for major payback.

As the archetypal workplace evolves, the shift from cookie-cutter savings plans and vacation policies to customizable, service-oriented perks and conveniences has moved mainstream. This is especially relevant for small to medium businesses that must strategically up the ante to vie for talent and as hyper-mobile millenials often job-hop rather than commit long-term.

Of course, incentivizing employees’ effort and commitment comes at a cost for businesses, but it’s worth considering employee dissatisfaction and high turnover can be pricey as well. Moreover, there is a definite link between employee satisfaction and profitability, as evidenced by the reported 10.6 percent annual return among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” since 1998. And a 10 percent increased investment in employee-engagement practices has the potential to up profits by $2,400 per employee annually, while 1 percent growth in employee commitment can spike monthly sales 9 percent, according to a 2011 IES/Work Foundation Report.

Perks, parties and other forms of sincere recognition and celebration of achievement can symbolize appreciation and value. And Colorado seems to get it, with its particularly PERKy attitude toward work.

Sure, health coverage is vital, but those paid powder days are up there on the list of offerings employers can use to entice and encourage their people.
Ellen M. Robinson, health and wellness director with the Colorado Office of Economic Development (OEDIT), isn’t surprised that perks like gym memberships are on the rise, as they benefit both employee and employer.

“The healthier the employee, the better the bottom line,” she says.

Eric Kimble, branch manager for staffing and recruiting firm The Creative Group in Denver, says the word “creative” is vital to the benefits companies offer to both recruit and retain employees.

“It’s no longer just salary and vacation time people are looking at,” he says. “If you walk into a job interview, see dogs playing in the hallways, notice the free food in the kitchen and the Ping-Pong table, there’s a ‘wow’ factor there.”

Kimble also notes Colorado’s reputation as an athlete’s paradise as a recruiting asset.
The Creative Group recently conducted a survey of executives, asking what unusual perks their people deem most appealing. The top five:

• Employee wellness programs
• Access to fitness centers or free gym memberships
• Paid sabbatical
• Day care or the ability to bring kids to work
• Ability to bring dogs to work

Newbies on the professional scene “desire a team-like atmosphere and fun relationships with co-workers,” says Barbara J. Kreisman, associate dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. “People are starved for real-live interaction with others.” And because Colorado skews a little younger than most states, what better way to cultivate a social environment than with perks like free beer and happy hours.

When ColoradoBiz set out to unearth and spotlight the state’s PERKiest companies, the following categories sprung out as particularly remarkable:

• Companies that go above and beyond in professional placemaking made our “Feng shui” list.

• Companies with exceptional athletic facilities, meditation rooms or shape-up incentives made our “Fit biz” list.

• Our “Happy hour” picks were companies that draw employees together, from sponsored happy hours to jet-setting adventures. We were pleasantly surprised how many craft “kegorators” are out there.

• Altruistic companies made up our “From the heart” picks. These companies believe in the power of working for the good of the community.

• Companies that stress work-life balance were our “Balancing act” choices.

Most impressive was that many of our PERKy companies could easily have been slotted into several categories simultaneously. It’s clear that Colorado businesses go beyond the ordinary offerings to attract and retain employees, because executives tend to agree: A happy employee is a good employee.

Read about our 20 perkiest here, here and here.

Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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Readers Respond

What a great compilation of companies that are progressive enough to realize that happy people equal happy employees and vice versa. I would love to know what the process was for determining the best of the best. Would you mind sharing how they were selected? Thanks! By Ayn-Marie Hailicka on 2014 05 06
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