Work Perks

by Katy on May 6, 2013 · 32 comments

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

monthly-passes

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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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Sass May 6, 2013 at 3:23 am

My current job has gone through a lot of upheaval in the past two years. I loved what I was doing. However, I and the rest of my co-workers have been temporarily reassigned to another department until such time as government contract issues are settled. Some of my co-workers weren’t fond of the reassignments so they left for other jobs where they would do something similar to what we had been doing for maybe a smidge more pay. Granted, I’m not loving what I’m doing right now, but it isn’t soul-crushing — and the benefits are really good. My company pays 3/4 of our healthcare coverage. They left for companies that don’t pay ANY. Most of my coworkers now complain about how hard it is to make ends meet — well duh! Their raises got eaten up by healthcare insurance premiums. My company also puts 12% of our gross salary into our 401(k), regardless of what we put in. That’s a LOT of tax free money. Sadly, most of my co-workers left for companies that didn’t even HAVE 401(k) plans! Most of them are about 10 years younger than I am so retirement really seems way way off. However, I am sticking it out, and hoping for the day that it all gets back to “normal”. Here’s hoping.

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Joanna May 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

Ooo…sounds like your former co-workers don’t know how to do math. People don’t realize how much work perks that come out pretax help. I get a yearly “total compensation package” estimate that includes benefits. It is usually almost $20K more in benefits on top of my salary.

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Linda in Indiana May 6, 2013 at 3:51 am

Retired now….last job…my career I worked at 30 years….but the main reason I took it was for health care benefits….may have switched at several different points, but that is what kept me there. I might add, I am so grateful to have had that!

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Diane May 6, 2013 at 4:01 am

Free catered lunches at my former job scoring teacher certification essays were the one and only perk and a way to entice people to do the job!

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SA May 6, 2013 at 5:58 am

Had to go quasi-anon on this one…

My husband has stayed at his current job because the health benefits are so wonderful. He’s underpaid, but the premiums are completely free for the whole family, and the copays are so low (plus no deductible!) that it’s hard for him to consider leaving despite his need for a professional change. They also have a great 401k match, but the salary is too low for us to take advantage of it (hence the company’s safe harbor contributions). Sadly, he feels trapped. We’re in the midst of a big couple pow-wow to see if we can swing a move and just tighten up our budget (even more) so that he can leave.

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Kim May 6, 2013 at 6:01 am

I am also an RN (critical care) and we have similar perks that your hospital offers. Although we often complain that the L&D nurses have scrubs provided!! We see them in the cafeteria and all over the hospital so how clean are those scrubs after all?? Whenever we are exposed to nasty bodily fluids we change into OR scrubs and conveniently forget to return them so we have extra scrubs. biggest reason I stay is the 401k match and the health benefits. We get 3% of salary deposited each year into our 401k in addition to the match so it really adds up.

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Nancy from Mass May 6, 2013 at 6:28 am

Hi, for the last 19 years, I have been working in the Consumer Goods industry. First with food companies, now with a health and home care company. the food and ‘things’ i receive for free as a benefit are fantastic! I first worked for a food company that owned many types of foods….soup, breads, mexican, etc and just the soup alone i would bring home was fantastic! then i went to another food company and included coffee, tea and baking items to the list…now soap, shampoo, paper products and home products.
i am also fortunate to have fantastic health insurance, (free dental insurance) discounts on my cell phone bill and was able to purchase microsoft office 2010 for $10! i only wish i could get a discount on rosetta stone!!!
Oh, and i love what i do and who i work for.

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Renee CA May 6, 2013 at 6:57 am

I once worked part-time for a wonderful Christian camp an got to attend conferences for half price. Sometimes free if I was working on-site. They had the best food and great holiday dinners for employees.

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Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares May 6, 2013 at 7:25 am

I once worked for an authentic French bakery that let employees take home unsold bread and pastries. I got brioche, croissants, pastries, baguettes, and loaves of bread, so I always tried to sign up for the closing shift.

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Laura May 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

My one benefit as adjunct faculty at a local community college was free tuition for up to two classes per term (for my children as well, if they had been old enough). I took loads of fun classes and also earned a certificate in Conflict Management which has served me well over the years.

My husband’s employer has provided him with benefits similar to yours (well, except for the scrubs). The salary wasn’t as good as he could have gotten elsewhere, but no one else offered benefits that were as good and so he has stuck it out and will retire in a couple of months . . . with a lovely company-provided pension!

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Joanna May 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

Working in the library I get:

– Matched contributions to state retirement.
– Great hours
– Pay for performance increases and longevity pay
– Free health insurance for myself and reasonable rates for my husband.
– The library will send me to conferences, trainings, etc. on their dime.
– I know the ordering schedule and get on hold for popular books and DVDs very early. mwhahahahaha (The items are in the catalog to be put on hold by customers, but they just don’t realize it.)

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Jane in Seattle May 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

I almost never had a job with medical benefits. And two jobs had 401k. The last job tried to steal my 401k. I got free flu shots at one, I worked at a paint and decorating store and got cost plus merchandise . Still using the dinette set and some tea table etc. I worked for a non profit that we had 401k, flexible spending plan , and great sick and vacation.
I also worked at an appliance store that I got my appliances for little over cost. That was wonderful. Small business is supposed to be the boon to our economy, but now, unless you are in a union or work for the government, retirement is just about non existent. The small employers just can’t afford it.

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Lacy Cooper May 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

I am a counselor and the Oregon requirements to get a license to practice are CRAZY and expensive. My current job has crappy hours and not the best pay but they save me about $150 in supervision fees, my hours really rack up for my license and they offer enough free trainings to fulfill my requirements at this time. I don’t know if I will be there after I get my license but currently it is really saving me a ton of money and helping me get to a place where I qualify for a job that pays better.

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Melissa May 6, 2013 at 8:43 am

I have a very tall husband, as well as a tall dad and sister, so I got a part-time seasonal job (Xmas) at a mall clothing store that sells their stuff in tall sizes, too. Good discount! (Also, it was a lot of fun, probably mostly because I knew it was temporary.)

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Lindsey May 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I may have the weirdest perk of anyone: I live in bush Alaska, and water is curently 28 cents a gallon. I get the health benefits, a good retirement plan and my employer pays 10 cents of every gallon of water I use. We also get a turkey at Tgiving and Christmas and eggs at Easter. Maybe the biggest benefit is that the village is so small that we don’t own a vehicle, so no gas/insurance/repairs. Now that is a real benefit. Plus, I have lost 78 pounds since we moved here and started walking everyplace.

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Rebecca B. A. R. May 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

Gotta say, I’m really jealous!

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Emily May 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

My job at the library of a private religious training college feeds me a morning snack (coffee and fresh fruit) and lunch every day. It’s been great for my grocery budget not to have to worry about buying food for lunch.

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Ali May 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

10% of my pretax salary into my retirement account and free breakfast and lunch, as well as Working Advantage discounts and highly reduced gym membership. Not bad!

While my husband makes less than 1/3 than I do at a university, our family benefits are covered aside from copays and our son will get free college tuition there, if he attends. We still have a 529 and contingency plan, but these perks are simply amazing!

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Sarah May 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I don’t work, but my husband does. He doesn’t get a great discount, but I will forever envy the discount my father got when he was working at Value Village – 50% off! Off of already secondhand store prices! Awesome. The worst I’ve seen is a friend who worked at a Canadawide chain that sells factory seconds and designer surplus at reduced prices – they only got 10% off, which doesn’t even cover the tax! (14% in our province)

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Erin R. May 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm

My employer pays my health insurance at 100% for me, and contributes into a 401(k) program regardless of whether or not I contribute anything. Our health insurance also offers some other deals and discounts, but so far this year I have only paid office copays and small prescription copays. My dental insurance isn’t quite as amazing but I’m still only going to be out a small amount this year. Those savings make quite a difference!

Having worked many a retail job, I have to say I prefer the standard set schedule and office setting of my current job even if it isn’t work that I love. I am very grateful (for now) to have a job I can leave at work and not think about once I walk out the door. And no late nights or weekends is a blessing that doesn’t have a price tag.

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Molly May 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

When I was a lifeguard I got a free YMCA membership.
I have picked jobs based on their domestic partnership healthcare benefits.

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Carmen May 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Our biggest perk from my husband’s job has been his take-home company car. I can only guess how much over the past 21 years we have saved in gas, maintenance, insurance, not to mention the reliability of getting to work everyday. I appreciate the retirement matching and the healthcare (although we pay quite a bit of our portion).

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Rachel W. May 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm

My favorite work perks were when I worked for a trucking company doing data entry and dispatching. I had health, dental and vision benefits with the premiums for myself covered 100% by the company. (My daughter’s father provides her medical benefits – part of the child support/custody agreement.) I also got fed regularly – my bosses would bring food to the office or the sister of one of my bosses cooked lunch for everybody. I ate very well – which is huge perk in my book. Also, I got to dress comfortably everyday – sneakers, t-shirt, and jeans. Yea, buddy. I don’t like dressing up. ^___^ My bosses were also amazing.

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Brenda Thorn May 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I worked for an ice cream company and we got to sample all the new products each year. We could also go out to the freezer and bring a half gallon of ice cream in to share – pretty much whenever. I could buy ice cream at cost, including mudpies that they serve at restaurants. The job wasn’t the greatest, but the ice cream was awesome.

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Alexandra May 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I work in a natural food co-op. We don’t get great pay but we get good benefits and are treated very very well. Co-op businesses notoriously treat employees well.
The best benefit for me is employees are allowed to take home out of date food. This is not spoiled or rotten, just not high calibre expected by the customer or past its ‘sell by” date. I work 4 shifts per week in the kitchen and i bring home food at least 3 if not for days per week. Our food bill is very manageable with all this organic high quality food. I have learned to be very good with food mgmt and freezing extras.

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Diane C May 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

My (new) husband’s company provides healthcare with no monthly fees, no deductibles and $10-$15 copays for services and prescriptions. This has enabled me to retire early. I could not have done it without this incredible PERK. I am grateful for it every. single. day.

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Diane C May 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Oh yeah, I almost forgot because this one hasn’t started yet – We are buying a new house that’s three short (albeit uphill) blocks from his work. Not only will we save like mad on auto costs, they will pay him just over $100 per month for not driving a car to work. Score!

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Hannah May 7, 2013 at 4:21 am

Katie, I think your perk of endless clean scrubs is the best, ever! When I read about that, my first thought was, You don’t have to make room in your closet for work clothes, or wash them.

My employer provides uniforms, but we store and launder them at home. It’s still a good perk. We also have meals provided (it’s a ferry service) and travel passes to use when off-duty. Another thing that the company probably doesn’t classify as a perk, but I consider it to be: all crew members receive mandatory first-aid, emergency duties and fire-fighting training. This makes me feel confident in everyday off-duty situations, though I haven’t had to put it to use so far.

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Rowen G. May 7, 2013 at 6:45 am

I retired last summer from a position as a scholarship administrator / counselor with a state university. The health care benefits were good (especially the dental) and we received free bus / light-rail passes, but my favorite perk was use of the library, with unlimited free inter-library loan. Wonderful for my pet research projects, plus as “staff,” no late fees on checked-out books. (Since I was “state classified” I got to retain most of the health benes, though not the light rail pass.)

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Maureen May 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

I work 2 jobs and contemplate all the time on quitting the second job for my sanity. But it’s a national chain and I get 35% off — even when I travel to other chains. Around Christmas they give employees an extra 10% off that you can also share with your family.

My full time job is working at home on a computer with the company paying the internet bill. I’ve been home for 8+ years and I have yet to see an internet bill. I do not have to travel so that saves wear and tear on the car and I don’t have to dress up and that saves in the pocket too. And when I don’t get my “guaranteed raise” like the state workers, I just have to thank them for letting me work at home in my pajamas when those state workers have to go to work in all kinds of weather.

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Markie May 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I don’t work outside the home but dh has been with the same company for 27 years. He will get a pension, contributes to his 401k and gets profit sharing. He earns bonuses 4x a yr. He gets free flu shots, discount movie tickets and a discount on our family cell phone bill. His cell phone (iphone) is paid for by the company. He gets 20+ days of vacation and I usually have to remind him to take it lol. We have dental, health and life insurance which we pay into.
The best thing was a sales meeting at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronada CA. Spouses were invited and we stayed at the hotel, free meals, a bbq on the beach, outings for the spouses and a gift card for the hotel. I used ours on a massage. Definately a trip I will remember for the rest of my life.

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Betty Winslow May 13, 2013 at 4:56 am

My favorite work perk (working as a librarian in a Christian school) is that the teachers and principal meet every morning to pray for the kids, the parents, and each other. There’s also encouragement to go to each other directly if we have a problem, rather than talking behind someone’s back or taking it directly to the principal without bothering to talk it out first, with that tinge of junior high tattle tale. I love my job! No health bennies (my husband has those), no high pay or other cool things, but working in a prayer-washed place is worth anything I had to give up!

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somewhere in washington May 31, 2013 at 7:51 am

I have two jobs — one with perks, one without. As a substitute teacher, I have no benefits whatsoever, but I don’t have to prepare lesson plans or grade assigments.
My second job, cleaning house for a wealthy couple had amazing perks! On top of an excellent hourly wage, every time she cleans out out her closet, which is frequently, I get amazing clothes. 90% of my professional teaching wardrobe has been free. She has great taste and shops at Nordstrom, White House Black Market, etc. I also get her shoes, jewelry, and handbags. My favorite thing I’ve gotten from her is my genuine Prada handbag. I looked it up out of curiousity and discovered it retailed for between $2500 – $3000. I cannot fathom having that kind of money or choosing to spend it on a handbag! When her and her husband started a new diet, I got 10 bags of pantry staples that were not allowed on the diet. When her gardeners redid her perennial beds , I brought home a truckload of beautiful plants for my own fledgling perennial garden. On top of all of the material perks, she and her husband are two of the nicest people I have ever known. I love this job and won’t give it up until I have to.

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