Technology companies are known for their wacky employee perks such as gaming centres, foosball tables, bring your pet to work days etc. Most of us hear about perks such as these and think: these are fun ideas but they wouldn’t work in my company. It’s easy to make excuses such as: the level of investment is too high; or, they would act as distractions rather than increasing productivity. But for the likes of Google these perks fit with their brand. Gaming is part of the technology product offering. New ideas for integrating technology and lifestyle are essential for business development. Their perks are designed to not only improve employee happiness and wellbeing but also fuel ideas and productivity in the areas that matter to them.

And perhaps this is the lesson we can all learn from the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter. It’s not about coming up with wackier and more outrageous employee benefits, but offering employee benefits that complement your brand. A recent Mashable article described “6 companies with awesome employee benefits”. The thing I noticed is that for every company the benefits weren’t just randomly selected based on what they thought any human being would like, they were specifically designed to attract and retain employees that shared the same values as the company.

Clif Bar, an organic food and drink provider, marketed specifically at active people, has a 40ft bouldering wall and fitness centre in it’s HQ in California. Sweetgreen, originally a fresh and fast-food provider that is now evolving into a lifestyle brand, gives employees a free salad every shift. These perks are appropriate to the brand and make a difference to employee engagement.

So, for those of us thinking about introducing alternative employee benefits, perhaps we need to get creative. Attractive bonuses, a generous holiday allowance, gym membership and health insurance will ensure you’re competing with every other employer but thinking about what makes your brand different and offering employee benefits that highlight this could set you apart.

A couple of ideas I had were:

I’m really interested to hear what other kinds of creative employee benefits are being put into practice so please do share the best you’ve come across in the comments…