With unemployment in Utah at a low 3.3 percent, companies in the Beehive State are coming up with distinct ways to reward their employees.
By now, free lunches, flexible schedules and even unlimited time off aren’t uncommon.
But trips to Haiti? Body scans and Botox injections?
Fringe benefits, indeed.
The Salt Lake Tribune has rounded up some of the most unusual perks that companies mentioned in our Utah’s Top Workplaces 2017 survey.
Such benefits on their own won’t land a company the coveted No. 1 spot, but being “genuinely appreciated” is ranked as one of the most important factors to employees in Top Workplaces organizations, higher even than pay.
Showing thanks — with notes, work parties or financial rewards — helps improve motivation, job satisfaction, self-esteem and retention, according to Energage, formerly WorkplaceDynamics, the Pennsylvania company that runs the Top Workplaces survey in Utah and among 40,000 organizations nationwide.
For the 14th year in a row, Lehi-based BGZ brands, which makes accessories for mobile devices and other gear, has paid for an annual out-of-state trip for its employees. In the past, it foot the bill for staffers and their families to play at Disneyland. This year, the 50-plus employees and spouses were treated to an island getaway on Kauai.
Another employer might consider it fiscally irresponsible to pay for a week in Hawaii. But the benefits, said spokesman Michael Bingham, outweigh the costs.
“We attribute a lot of our success to our people feeling respected and impassioned and empowered to do great work,” he said. “We want them to feel appreciated.”
And they do.
Said one anonymous employee of the trip to Hawaii in the Top Workplaces survey: “This is just an example of why I love my job. ... I have worked other places in my life and never have I seen so much generosity and love for employees as I do here.”
Serving others has been part of CHG Healthcare’s mission from its 1979 founding. After all, it staffs temporary and permanent physicians, nurses and other health care professionals around the country. It also partners with United Way and pays employees to volunteer up to eight hours a year. So it tends to attract workers who like to give — a lot.
To recognize them, the Midvale company created the Difference Makers Award last year, in which employees can nominate their colleagues who significantly contribute to their communities. This year, 178 people were nominated. Six winners were rewarded with a trip to Kenya, where they helped build parts of a school campus in a rural village.
The winners, joined by company CEO Scott Beck, included an employee who developed an after-school mindfulness and yoga program for children, another who is the president of the Junior League, and yet another who wrote a book and donates the proceeds to Nepalese orphans.
“We are a company that believes in service and … caring for others and not being a cold business machine that [is driven by] profit,” said Christine VanCampen, who runs CHG’s culture team. “This program helps us celebrate those values in action.”
She went on the trip, too, and said it was life-changing. “You have the opportunity to reflect on your life and things you take for granted. It made me come back with such a deeper degree of gratitude for all I have. That will continue to stay with me for a very long time.”
Healing hands in Haiti
Anyone can go to Haiti and be part of a one-week mission through LiveBeyond, a faith-based humanitarian group that provides medical care, clean water and education to a village. But it will cost $1,180 plus airfare.
To reward longtime employees, Encompass Home Health and Hospice’s foundation paid for 75 percent of the cost for 50 employees. And because the Dallas-based company with 11 Utah locations offers employees one paid mission workday for every year they’ve been at the company, many didn’t have to use vacation time to go on the trip, said Michele Carr, a Utah doctor who trained the mission volunteers and staff at the Haiti clinic on how to treat wounds.
Despite the 110-degree temperature during their August trip, with no air conditioning, little electricity and accommodations in barracks-style dorms, Carr said, the volunteers — including a handful from Utah — thanked her for what ended up feeling like a summer camp, complete with strong bonds among new fast friends.
“It gives people a sense of, I don’t know if pride is the right word, but it makes them feel good about the company they work for knowing it’s a company that supports us in our passion, in our hopes and our ability to give back,” Carr said. “I know it makes me feel more loyal.”
‘We spoil them’
Along with typical health benefits, laser and aesthetics provider Elase Medical Spas, in Salt Lake City, offers its 53 employees free Botox injections, dermal fillers, chemical peels and CoolSculpting, a fat-freezing technique. It also pays for retreats in Park City and Las Vegas.
“We spoil them the whole time with dinners, shows, gifts, etc. because we value them so much,” marketing director Haley Payne wrote in an email.
The Lindon biocommunication company ZYTO offers its health care services to its own employees. By taking a bioscan of the hand, the company says it can determine what foods, supplements and activities are best suited to its clients. The same technology is provided to employees, who are encouraged to complete a scan each month and follow the advice.
Last year during a Wellness Challenge, employees could earn points by choosing the exercises and foods on their reports. Those who earned a certain number of points won prizes like gift cards to REI and Whole Foods and money for new running shoes, said Sophia Erickson, vice president of marketing. The grand prize was a drawing for a trip to Hawaii.
Erickson said encouraging employees to use the company’s technology helps them understand their customers’ experiences and become more aware and accountable for their own health.
The South Jordan company Xima Software, which provides data management for call centers, created a tradition of Fun Fridays, for staffers to play for 1½ hours every week. Employees choose the events, from chili cook-offs to crazy hat day to dodgeball tournaments. Contest winners, or employees who just show up, are eligible to enter an annual drawing. The prize for having fun in the office: a briefcase filled with $10,000 in cash.
“We believe that friends make the best co-workers so we put a lot of effort into having high-quality opportunities to have fun together,” Nate Thatcher, Xima CEO, wrote in an email. The cash prize is a good way to get everybody involved, he added.
Company officials say their culture is key to their success, because it lures the best employees. And activities like playing video games together — Counter-Strike Global Offensive is a favorite — foster teamwork.
“It’s the best culture I’ve ever worked in,” praised one employee in the Top Workplaces survey.
Bottom line, employee perks can pay off and propel companies to the top.