Employers offering to help cover vacation costs, ship breast milk to attract, retain workers

Small Business Associated Press

Netflix's decision to give its workers up to a year of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a baby is the latest example of the unusual benefits that companies have been dangling as they try to attract and retain people with highly coveted skills.

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Nothing appeals to workers quite like a lucrative paycheck. But benefits and perquisites become more important to people once they already are earning a lot of money and realize much of any additional raise will be devoured by taxes, says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for employer rating service Glassdoor.com.

Realizing this, more companies are coming up with unconventional perquisites to stand out from their rivals and pamper their workers. The phenomenon is especially prevalent in the technology industry, where the competition for computer programmers is so intense that employers are looking for every edge they can find.

Adding a little something extra to the standard benefits package is "a really inexpensive way to boost employee engagement and make employees feel better about where they are," Chamberlain says.

Consider some of these benefits, most of which were compiled from employee reviews collected by Glassdoor.com:

— Online rental service Airbnb gives its workers up to $2,000 annually to help cover their travel expenses while on vacation.

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— Asana, a maker of business communication tools, pays for "life coaches" to help their employees cope away from the office.

— Online real estate service Zillow pays for overnight shipping of breast milk when a mother is traveling.

— Payment processor Square offers an employee "wellness" program that includes on-site massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture therapy and personal trainers.

— Website building service Weebly gives its workers $50 per month to help pay for housecleaning and errands. The money shows up on a company credit card that all its workers receive.

— Online software service Salesforce.com gives its employees a paid week off for volunteer or charity work.

— Outdoor sports apparel maker Patagonia encourages its workers to get out of the office to play volleyball, do yoga or go surfing in the middle of the day.