Work Perks

by Katy on February 13, 2012 · 23 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!


I work for one of the largest private employers in the state of Oregon, and with this job comes some great benefits. Deals on cell phones, gym memberships, discounts for local businesses and my favorite — a free all-zone adult public transportation pass. To buy this privately, (as many people do) would set me back a whopping $946!

That is one mighty fine work perk.

Although I’ve been in the same job for 14 years, I have enjoyed employment by many different companies throughout the years. I’ve worked everything from retail in Idaho, shoe sales in London, (note to self — DON’T ask customers if they’re planning on wearing their shoes with a skirt or “pants.”) cinemas and restaurants in Portland, Oregon and even as an elf at Macy’s in Herald Square, New York.

Yeah, I moved a lot.

The jobs varied from interesting to tedious, poorly paid to semi-poorly paid. But they all had one thing in common — work perks.

Working retail meant an employee discount on merchandise, which could be quite sizable, other jobs provided handy perks as well:

  • The variety store in Ketchum, Idaho gave a “cost plus 10%” discount, which sometimes translated to 90% off. Got my holiday shopping done early that year!
  • The shoe store in London not only offered a discount on shoes, (the amount of which I’ve forgotten) but customers would occasionally purchase new shoes and leave the old ones in the store. As gross as this may sound, I got a new looking pair of super cool shoes this way, which I held onto for at least ten years.
  • Work in restaurants always provided free food and drinks, and working at a movie theater meant I was able to see free movies at all the theaters in town for myself and a guest. This last job was during my senior year of high school, and my best friend and I took great advantage of the viewing opportunities, often seeing multiple movies in a single day!
  • Oddly, the stint as a Christmas elf at Macy’s was one of the worst employee discounts, as it was for only 15% off products that could be worn on the body. (clothing, jewelry, make-up, etc.) Although, Wearing a head-to-toe sparkly elf costume meant I didn’t have to dress professionally, which I considered to be a huge plus. Not to mention, it was simply a lot of fun!

My current job as a labor and delivery nurse also provides my work wardrobe, (although there is certainly less bling than your average elf costume) which has probably saved me thousands of dollars through the years. Some nurses on other floors have to provide their own scrubs, but ours are provided by the hospital as we circulate through the operating rooms and need to have certifiably clean outfits. Infection control and all.

These work perks can be a huge part not only in making a job worthwhile, but in employee retention. My friend’s husband works in management at AT&T, and got free box seat tickets to take their  daughter and her friends to see a Miley Cyrus concert last night.  (This probably won him the daddy-of-the-year award at his house!)

The main work perk that attracts employees and then keeps them in place are health care benefits. How many of us have stayed in a  job simply because we needed the benefits? Or even left a job we loved because it didn’t provide those essential health care benefits?

Have you ever taken a job because it came with fabulous work perks? Was it an employee discount on merchandise or comprehensive health care coverage? What was your favorite work perk you’ve ever had? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer February 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

My husband’s work perks are very important to our family. He works for the state’s natural resource agency, first in state parks and more rencently for fish & wildlife. He works as a property manager of these areas and these jobs require that the managers live on the property in property provided housing. There is a small ($90) monthly rental fee, however all utilities are provided, except phone and internet. These jobs pay terrible, but with this perk it makes it much more attractive, we’ve calculated that it is an extra $15-20,000 income that is untaxed. This means that we have lived in some of the most beautiful places in the state, with few to no neighbors, hiking and biking trails right out our door, playgrounds and nature centers within walking distance. We also have had free pool use at the outdoor pools, and a new multimillion dollar indoor waterpark, hot tub included. My husband can use the various tools at work for wood working and car repair. All house upgrades and repairs are paid for. Not to mention the lost and found….After the items that have been setting in the lost and found for 6 mo – 1 year my husband would bring the useful things home. We have gotten nice brand name rain coats, sweatshirts, gloves, hats, coolers, laterns, bikes….and many other things folks would purposely or accidently leave while visiting the park. Also my husband has salvaged a lot of very useful wood that was being thrown in the dumpster and used it to make things around the house and for presents. Many of our family members have picnic tables that were once old park signs. Without his job and his many perks, I wouldn’t be able to work part time and be home most of the time to run the household. So we are very grateful for his job perks!!


Amy February 13, 2012 at 6:41 am

My husband has pretty awesome work perks. He gets free lunch and unlimited coffee and soda every day!


Laura February 13, 2012 at 7:21 am

My husband also receives great work perks – they are the reason he has stayed at his current job even though he has interviewed for and been offered jobs that paid more – they just couldn’t match the benefits, including free all-zone bus passes (which he has always taken advantage of).

When we first arrived in Oregon nearly 20 years ago, I worked for a kitchen store and ended up with all sorts of fabulous high-end cookware that I was able to get at a fraction of the cost. I also got glasses, a couple of appliances and some other gadgets that we still use. I also teach at a local community college and took advantage of the free tuition offered to employees and earned a certificate in conflict management. My eldest daughter will be able to take classes at the college before she graduates from high school meaning less courses to be taken (and paid for) later.


Karen February 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

I do research. Not only are the people great, but I work half-time, get full benefits and set my own schedule. For me that means, I work while my daughter is in school. Three days a week, I leave at lunchtime and go to the gym for an hour and then pick up my daughter. The other two, I’m here the duration of the school day. People bring their dogs to work, babies and plants. We have a small on-site day care (that I got up and running almost 10 years ago after my maternity leave) that operates in spurts, as groups of babies are being born.
I left my research job temporarily to earn a Masters in Architecture, only to find that I really hated punching a time clock. I ended up back here and have been stress free as far as my job goes ever since. I don’t think I would want to deal with the “real world” again.


Dogs or Dollars February 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the Monday morning reminder to be appreciative of our jobs.

My current job comes with a highly subsidized cell phone. It costs about $15/month for basically unlimited service. Due to employment perks, I’ve hardly ever paid retail price for cell service. There was about a year and a half where I did. What a stark reality to have to pay $100 month for less service.

Having to pay retail prices for pet food also stinks, although the markup is not as much as you’d think it is.


michelle February 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

My husband worked for the Hyatt when we were dating and for the first few years of our marriage. The biggest perk was free or deeply discounted rooms. They even catered our wedding at a deep discount. He was employee of the year and he won two round trip tickets and accomodations. We went to Hawaii for two weeks – they have three Hyatts. It was a real effort to be supportive when he switched jobs.


Jen February 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

I used to work for a big four accounting firm and the perks are amazing because the firms all fiercely compete for the best workers. We started with 3 weeks of vacation plus four personal days (which were in essence, vacation), we had excellent health care and pretax accounts for things like child care, transportation, etc. Many people were also able to work flexible or reduced schedules, and they were very supportive of nursing mothers. There were other perks, but those were the main ones for me. They are also very supportive of gays and lesbians, which I appreciated as a human being.

It was very hard for me to leave that place but I chose to when I needed to move, golden handcuffs for sure!


Megg February 13, 2012 at 11:21 am

One of the best things about my new(ish) job is that they provide t-shirts for us to wear! I have 3, and though I’d like to rotate through more, I’m happy that they have saved my own wardrobe from endless wearing and washing! I do have to wear my own jeans though.

My husband doesn’t get many work perks, but he does get free movie tickets sometimes for doing a good job! Plus he used to get “pride points” which translated into things you can buy (like gift cards) and that translated into our Wii 🙂


Jo February 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

The main perk for me is that I can work whenever I want, as long as my work gets done. That is really worth a lot to me.


Jennifer February 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

When I worked for the public library, I used to be able to check out tons of books, movies, and music for free. Oh, wait…
Since my husband carried our health insurance through his work, I was able to take a stipend in lieu of the lousy health benefits offered through the library. But the best “perk” was a fabulous manager who let me take a quick break to get my kids after school, either to be at home, or occasionally to hang out at the library while I worked. Now my husband works for an airline, so we get free flight benefits.


Jennifer G. February 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I work for a weekly newspaper, so I have a lot of events that I HAVE to be at, but I get to decide my schedule for the days I don’t have events/am not bumping into deadline.

I get a free meal or a free event once every week or two.

But the fact that my job is so social is probably my favorite perk. I just get to talk to people all day! Also, lots of room for creativity.

AND (almost forgot), I get to use the newspaper’s camera for personal use outside of work hours. It’s sweet.


Kathleen Harris February 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

What happens if you ask skirt or “pants?” I just have to know! 🙂


Amira February 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Pants = underwear 🙂


Barb February 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I am an RN too and have worked for state government for the past 10 years in a couple of different roles. These are more benefits than perks but I have a LOT of paid time off, great flexibility and a defined benefit retirement plan. I occasionally think of going back to direct care nursing (miss seeing patients) but it is hard to walk away from a job that I really love with great benefits.


Ruthie February 14, 2012 at 6:28 am

I start nursing school this summer, but the biggest thing I will miss after working as a vet tech is free heartworm and flea preventative for my pets. These “samples” easily save me a couple hundred dollars a year!


Priscilla February 14, 2012 at 6:50 am

I work for a university and we have tons of perks! My current favorite is the free “boot camp” offered to all students, faculty, and staff at the university gym. Plus there are so many cool cultural events on campus that are free and that I can pretend are work related!


Heidi February 14, 2012 at 7:18 am

I am the office lady for a small Montessori preschool.
The intangible benefits from my job are almost too many to count:
1. One mile commute.
2. Job hours are a near perfect match to my kids’ school day.
3. Year-round schedule is a near perfect match to my kids’ school schedule, including vacations, snow days, and delays due to bad weather.
4. I do not take a lunch break, but my boss is completely flexible and understanding when I need to take a few hours off for a doctor’s visit, to be at home for a plumber, etc. Or if I need to take a day off to stay home with a sick kid.
5. In July and August, I don’t work much. Maybe 2-3 hours in the mornings. I can roll in whenever I like, in shorts and t-shirt.
6. At Christmas time, and the last day of school, the families of students are very generous with gifts. I often get as much as $150 in gift cards to Target, Kohl’s, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc, as well as gifts like candy, mugs, candles, etc. This year I got a really beautiful pair of long wool gloves. The coffee gift cards are great for an occasional treat. (I never spend my own money at those places.) This year I got two Target gift cards, which I used for groceries, and was able to stretch to way more than their original value, with the help of coupons, rebates and loss leader sales. Today, Valentine’s day, I got a whole bunch of really nice chocolate, which I’ll put aside for my kids’ lunchboxes.
7. Time to surf the net and do stuff like this.
8. I like being around the kids. The teachers are the awesomest group of women you’ll ever meet, and I’ve made some really good friends here.

And I could go on…


Laurel February 14, 2012 at 7:49 am

While my current job provides a fair wage and decent health insurance, the best “perk” of my job is the people I work with and for. You see, I work as a receptionist in a convent and it is the absolute BEST job I’ve ever had. Every day, I feel appreciated and part of something wonderful. And I’m not even Catholic! 🙂


Heidi February 14, 2012 at 8:04 am

The preschool I work for is owned by the Catholic church. The convent is right across the street from the school. I am around nuns all day. While they can be cranky old ladies much of the time, more often they are sincerely generous and giving people. When they have extra food (from a party, for example) they’ll give me some to bring home. They are always receiving gifts from other people and if it’s something they can’t use, or it doesn’t fit, they’ll offer it to me. I’ve gotten t-shirts and turtleneck shirts, and the best was 4 pairs of new, tags-still-on sweatpants which fit me perfectly!


Ellie February 14, 2012 at 9:06 am

I don’t get many tangible perks from work; it’s the intangible stuff, and the general lack of negatives, that are so great.

My job doesn’t care when (or often where) the work gets done, so long as it gets done on time. That means I can arrange my schedule to my benefit. This is really helpful – even if it just means that if we’re low on groceries one day, I can leave early to shop rather than buy take-out, and things like that. It also means that if I have a family emergency or a car break down, I’m not scrambling (and spending money) because I HAVE to be somewhere at a certain time. Hubby’s schedule is also semi-flexible. Time flexibility is a huge perk.

I also work in a relaxed environment with no dress code, so I don’t have to spend money on a “career” wardrobe, or worry that I’ll be judged as “not worthy” because I drive an old car. The pressure to appear “polished” is a reality at many jobs, and not having that pressure is a perk.

I work with nice, cooperative people, who make the workplace a pleasant place to be. There is really almost zero coworker stress (aside from someone’s rare “bad day” that quickly blows over and is laughed about the next day). Not having to deal with nasty, angry, jealous, competitive, egotistical, or resentful people is priceless.

Oh yeah – and my boss is a good cook/baker and occasionally brings in leftovers to share! 😀


Kristin February 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

My husband took his current job because of the health benefits. I was going through cancer treatment at the time and he wanted to make sure we had really good medical benefits (plus they took the preexisting condition). He works for the state and could make more money elsewhere but the health benefits are pretty wonderful and he only works 35 hours a week. This gives him time to work on other projects and gives us time together. He just turned down an opportunity that would have paid him almost twice what he makes now because of a long commute and lots of travel. I guess I’ll keep my frugal lifestyle if I can keep my husband around. 🙂


Jeanne February 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I took a job once that had the best perk of all – how much I DIDN’T have to work. The day I started I was advanced 40 (yes, forty) personal/vacation days for the year. That didn’t include holidays when the office was closed, or sick time. In retrospect, I didn’t really like the work….


Frugal Down Under February 15, 2012 at 4:11 am

As a nanny for the rich and the fashion people. I got international travel, nice hotels, clothes, shoes, make up, restaurant and housekeepers maintaining my bedroom.

It was hard coming back to the my life.


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