Free Cars, College, and a Chance to Meet Celebs: 9 Unusual Great Resignation-Era Employee Perks

For some companies, a fatter paycheck isn’t the only way they’re keeping employees from leaving amid the Great Resignation. What else works? Pawternity! 

Providing competitive compensation is certainly important to retain employees, but the pandemic also shifted the priorities for many workers. In a bid to get employees to stay, you might look to some of the more unusual perks some employers now offer to their workforce. 

Move over added vacation time, flexible hours, and a 401(k) match. In no particular order, here’s a list of nine unusual perks some employers are working into their benefits mix: 

1. Virtual Reality Headsets

Calling all gamers: if you’re infatuated with virtual reality, then this perk from Workato is for you. The Mountain View, California-based automation platform decided to reward its team with Oculus VR sets after it experienced one of its best quarters yet. It also had just completed its Series D funding round. Since these milestones took place during the pandemic, Workato leadership recognized it would be difficult to connect in person. Enter virtual reality technology. Workato’s CEO, Vijay Tella, tells Inc. that the Oculus sets “seemed like a great option for our employees because it allowed them to break up the norm of Zoom fatigue and encouraged them to take breaks.” Some team members use their Oculus sets for meetings or team building exercises while others use it to play games like virtual ping pong. 

2. Pawternity Leave

As cute as pets may be, introducing a new furry friend into your life can shake up your everyday routine. Pets are a lot of work, something that the Tampa-based Better Choice Company understands. Dubbed “pawternity leave,” the pet health and wellness company offers its workers up to three days of paid time off to care for a new pet. Employees are eligible for the benefit so long as they’ve been with the company for 90 days. The company also hands out fur baby product packages, which includes a medley of food and treats, and up to two consecutive bereavement days for the death of a pet.

3. Music Festivals

Power Home Remodeling hosts a three-day music festival and retreat for its workforce in Cancun–and it covers nearly all of the expenses with the exception of flights. Artists that have headlined the festival put on by the residential remodeler include The Killers, Kygo and Post Malone. The retreat offers a buffet of activities: from yoga to beach games. There’s also an art installation and food hall. Asher Raphael, the co-CEO of Power, shares that when he conceived the idea with his business partner around 10 years ago, everyone thought it was too out there. “We were looking over our shoulders,” he adds, “but there were no adults in the room to tell us that we couldn’t do it, and so we went for it.” Though the company took a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, the retreat returned in 2021. Employees were required to show proof of negative Covid-19 tests before leaving for Cancun. 

4. Groceries on Demand 

The direct-to-consumer eco-essentials company, Public Goods, provides its workers with a lifetime membership (a $79 annual value) to the company’s online catalog, along with a $50 monthly stipend. Workers of the New York City-based company can peruse a variety of items online including personal care products, groceries, household supplies, CBD products and more. Plus, everything comes delivered straight to employees’ door.

5. Hot Wheels

It’s not easy to buy a new vehicle these days, especially. But at the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based Lendmark Financial Services, some high-achieving workers won’t face the burden of buying their own car. Approximately three years ago, Lendmark started giving away cars to branch managers who hit their growth metrics. In its first year, the company gave out one car. Last year, it awarded three while this year it plans to give out two. The giveaway morphed to a virtual presentation and was done on Zoom. 

6. The Great Outdoors

The Chicago-based fishing brand Catch Co. encourages its workforce to venture away from their desks and explore nature by offering quarterly paid “outdoor days.” The company also gives workers $100 each year to purchase fishing gear from its e-commerce platform. 

7. Sweet Dreams

A good night’s sleep is important, but sometimes that’s not always attainable. That’s why the Houston-based mattress company Mattress Firm provides sleep-related benefits including sleep coaching, available to its associates thanks to a strategic partnership with SleepScore Labs. Mattress Firm employees also receive discounts when they purchase new beds. 

8. A Free Ride

While many employers offer some type of tuition reimbursement plan, it’s more unusual to see these plans cover most expenses associated with heading back to school. But that won’t be an issue for those who work at Dollywood Parks & Resorts. The Pigeon Forge, Tennessee-based company announced this week that it’ll cover the costs for tuition, fees and books for its employees who choose to further their education. The new program kicks off on Feb. 24. 

9. Celeb Meet-Ups

Ever dream of meeting your celebrity idol? Employees of Hungry, a platform for chefs and food delivery services, have received that chance thanks to charitable or promotional events the Arlington, Virginia-based company puts on with its celebrity investors. Employees could even end up in a commercial or other promotion with an A-lister. Celebrities who’ve previously participated include Kevin Hart, Usher and Todd Gurley — all three are also investors. A request for more information wasn’t met in time for publication. The company did say, however, that it aims to offer the chance to rub elbows with stars once a quarter.

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