Magazine

The Shape Of Perks To Come


More and more companies are figuring out which perks and benefits will bring top talent running. The workplace of the future will pay you to learn, move walls to fit projects, and replace pensions with perks. Oh, and did we mention on-site elder care? Here's more of what's on the horizon:

Women: Whatever They Want

Women now nab more than half of college and graduate degrees. Companies are beginning to redesign career paths, jobs, and workplaces to get women to stick around once they start having children. New programs vary workloads to accommodate women with family obligations. Lehman Brothers (LEH) now tries to woo back stop-out moms. Think sculpting jobs to fit lives—instead of the other way around.

There's No Place Like...Work

Google (GOOG) gave new meaning to bringing the home into the workplace (three free meals a day and new T-shirts twice a week). With more people equipped to work from home, companies will be falling over themselves to lure workers back to their cubicles. That's why offices at the likes of Procter & Gamble (PG) and Microsoft (MSFT) are beginning to resemble kitchens and living rooms. Nap stations, gaming rooms, and media lounges are also in the works.

Throw out the time sheets

As more companies put a premium on what you achieve, instead of how many hours you put in each week, costly time-keeping policies, rules, and procedures will evaporate. It's already happening at such companies as Best Buy (BBY) and Netflix (NFLX), which offer variations of unlimited time off. Employees are free to work wherever they want, whenever they want, so long as the work gets done. Then again, in a workaholic era, sometimes it's nice to have someone forcing you to take vacation.

The Nanny Corporation is watching

Wellness programs are the leading edge of a new kind of company paternalism. Companies will be interested in whether you are fat or thin, a fitness freak or a slug, and how many risky sports you play. If you are the picture of health, you'll get a break on health-care costs; if you're not, you could get fined (or worse). The upside? Bedside doctor visits. The dark undercurrent? Blood tests that show how much you drank last night.

Benefits Customized for you

One-size-fits-all bennies are so yesterday. What's attractive to Gen Y can be anathema to boomers. Companies realize they can get a better return on investment by tailoring perks to how you perform and the stage of life you're in. So look for the cafeteria approach now emerging in health plans to seep into other benefit areas, and variable compensation plans that enable employees to put a percentage of their pay at risk.

By Michelle Conlin and Jane Porter


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