The offices of earthly delights
Wellness centres, personal trainers, free mobile phones and laptops, health insurance and a day off on your birthday. No, it's not Willy Wonka's chocolate factory - but just a few of the great perks that some firms in Ireland now offer to their employees
A few years ago, during the height of the recession, the only benefits attached to a job would be the fact that you had one. Maybe health insurance or a cost-price canteen in your building, if you were really lucky.
But 2014 is a completely different story - and some companies now feel that they have to go above and beyond to compete for the best employees.
So what company holds the holy grail of benefits? Is it the company that offers free GP visits or medical insurance? The company that gives you free food and on-site massages? Or maybe just somewhere that give you your birthday off?
Vodafone has consistently been cited as one of the best companies to work for in Ireland. With a range of benefits that give their staff freedom to work the way they want, Vodafone head office provides ample comfort and sustenance for its employees. A flexi-desk system means that people are not restricted to one desk and can move around the building to somewhere they find comfortable.
All new employees are given a new mobile phone and laptop and a customisable staff benefit programme, which gives staff flexibility around the health, protection and lifestyle benefits they choose.
"Right For Me allows people to mix and match a range of benefits to suit their own individual needs and those of their families. There are options to increase the level of core benefits beyond what is provided, select from a portfolio of optional benefits or take home more cash by reducing current benefit levels," said Anna Kavanagh of Vodafone.
Employees can avail of the subsidised canteen with two coffee docks, so meetings and one-to-one assessments are held in comfortable environments. There is an on-site 'wellness centre' with state-of-the-art gym, access to personal trainers, a 'think well room' and two consultant rooms.
As Vodafone sponsors a range of music and comedy events, performers often give exclusive gigs for employees in company headquarters. Vodafone employees are even entitled to a 'Birthday day-off' and can take up to three extra days off to volunteer for charity.
Paddy Power is another company which believes looking after their employees is top priority. The company said they offer the standard perks, but these perks are above and beyond what a lot of companies will offer.
Each employee can take advantage of access to healthcare cover and pension, life assurance cover and at least 20 days holiday a year. Paddy Power run tax-efficient schemes, such as the Cycle to Work Scheme and Taxsaver Scheme. All retail and head office employees can take advantage of the Share Save Scheme, which can be used to buy Paddy Power shares at a 25pc discount.
Employees cite free counselling sessions, free tea, coffee and fruit at work, great competitions and comfortable offices as some of the reasons why Paddy Power is ahead in terms of looking after their own.
Feilim Mac An Iomaire, PR manager at Paddy Power said: "Life is never dull either, jobs at Paddy Power aren't quite like what you'll find elsewhere. We're very proud of our career and personal development programmes, which we've put in place to put people in the driving seat of their careers."
Multinational corporations have become known for competing when it comes to benefits and PepsiCo does just this. PepsiCo, the world's second-largest food and beverage company, focuses on providing its employees with a large number of benefits covering just about everything.
Not only do the company offer to look after your medical, dental and life insurance, they can help you build personal financial plans and retirement packages tailored around you and your family. PepsiCo also boast a number of programs to aid you with your personal life, including adoption assistance, parental leave and employee discounts on phones, electronics and entertainment.
Bright Horizons Family Solutions is the world's leading provider of employer-sponsored childcare and early education. With businesses in Ireland, the UK, USA and Canada, Bright Horizons cares for over 70,000 children and their company employees.
Their benefit packages include private health insurance, uniforms, holiday pay and absence allowance. Bright Horizons boasts clean modern offices and childcare centres, transfer schemes, continuous training and a generous employee referral scheme.
For all these reasons and more, Bright Horizons is the only childcare company in Ireland and the UK to be featured on the Top 50 Places to Work list.
Cluid Housing Association is an Irish not-for-profit organisation that provides affordable housing to people on the housing list in Ireland. Cluid's main focus is to help people - and that starts with looking after its employees.
Alongside a competitive salary, employees are given a pension scheme, 22 days of paid leave, discounted VHI health insurance and topped up maternity benefit.
Cluid said they offered attractive benefits and work-life benefits to attract, motivate and retain the best people. With benefits like these, it is no wonder Cluid Housing Association has placed on the Best Places to Work 2014 list.
Fonua is another company that made it onto this year's Best Places to Work list, thanks to its fun and motivational company ethics. Fonua boosts staff morale by having employee of the quarter competitions and employee and manager of the year competitions.
They host a dedicated employee engagement team to ensure all employees are happy and run a sports and social club, with events ranging from quizzes to adventure days. The company appears committed to the well-being of all of their employees and offer incentives to promote their health, including a Fonfit Club that runs lunchtime workouts and promotes healthy eating.
Fonua also run a number of charity initiatives as part of their corporate social responsibility policy, which encourages all employees to get involved.
Ergo, an IT company in Dublin, boasts a comfortable open-plan office, encouraging teamwork and collaboration. There are a number of on-site facilities including a fully-equipped canteen, shower facilities and a games room.
The company provides a healthy breakfast for staff and fresh fruit and coffee are available throughout the day.
All employees are entitled to 22 days holiday a year, pension scheme, life assurance, medical screening with free flu jab and eye exam and VHI medical sponsorship. Ergo also have a sports and social club and there are team-building activities once a month. East Point Business Park, where the building is located, has a number of leisure facilities, health services and shops.
Each Wednesday, there is a gourmet food market and a number of activities including fitness classes, pilates and Weight Watchers.
In a country where education is key, Ireland has turned out one of the best workforces in the world. Companies are fighting to keep the best of the best among their ranks and benefits like these are just some of the ways your loyalty can be secured.
Whether it is in IT or childcare, you can be sure that joining one of these companies will keep your health, work and well-being a top priority.
Sunday Indo Business