Scuba Diving
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These Companies Offer Surf Breaks and Other Unusual Employee Perks

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Scuba Diving
Georgette Douwma / Stone / Getty Images CC

Bomb Benefits

Most of us work at jobs where benefits are pretty standard: health coverage, paid time off, sick leave, and the like. But there are companies that take a decidedly more innovative and generous approach to letting their employees know just how much they're appreciated. Here are some companies where workers get everything from regular sabbaticals to free meals and housecleaning, including Nike, which recently closed global offices for a week so stressed-out employees could unwind and relax.


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Nike
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Nike: Week-Long Mental Health Break

Companies including Nike have offered employees paid breaks to concentrate on their mental health, a movement that seems to be driven by recent events, including the pandemic. In an August LinkedIn post, Nike senior manager of global marketing science Matt Marrazzo noted: "In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane... I'm hopeful that the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward." Other companies that have offered versions of this perk in recent months include Bumble, LinkedIn, Hootsuite, Mozilla, Marriott, and Fidelity Investments. 

napping on couch
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Hootsuite: Nap Room

This social media management company, which employs around 1,000 people, has two Vancouver, British Columbia, office spaces. One of them has a log-cabin-themed "nap room" complete with cots, blankets, and pillows, and there's another area fashioned after a ski resort that includes huge beanbag chairs and other nontraditional places for employees to work. According to company execs, these perks are just part of the company's overall approach to wellness. "By offering programs that support our people in all aspects of life," Hootsuite's Angela Wright told Medium.com in 2018, "we hope to enable balance and let people be their best self holistically."


Related: 10 International Work Benefits Americans Wish They Had

Take Surf Lessons
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Patagonia: Surf Breaks

The surf in Ventura, California, is often excellent, a fact Patagonia owner and founder Yvon Chouinard doesn't let his employees take for granted. He encourages them to get out there and enjoy the waves, with the company's reception desk even posting daily surf reports and making announcements when the waves are particularly awesome. "We have a policy that when the surf comes up, you drop work and you go surfing," Chouinard noted on the NPR podcast "How I Built This," adding: "I don't care when you work as long as the job gets done."


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Scuba Diving
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Chesapeake Energy: Free SCUBA Certification

This Oklahoma City company, one of the country's largest natural gas producers, employs about 2,300 people, and it puts a large focus on the health of those workers. In addition to the Olympic-size swimming pool where employees can get SCUBA-certified for free, Chesapeake Bay also has a 72,000-square-foot fitness center offering physical therapy, personal training, nutritional counseling, group classes, a climbing wall, walking track, and a sand volleyball court. According to its website, all of this is part of the company's employee wellness initiatives. "We champion healthy lifestyles and offer resources encouraging our employees to put their health first," it notes.


Related: 22 Jobs That Make the Gym Redundant

Hotels
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Akraya: Home Cleaning

For some people, working hard means the state of their home suffers and those dust bunnies go nowhere. But that's not the case for employees of this IT consulting and staffing firm, which has offices in the United States and India. Akraya sends a professional cleaning service to interested employees' homes every two weeks to spiff up. Must be perks like that earns Akraya a spot among Glassdoor's Employees' Choice Awards "2021 Best Places to Work."


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Haircut and Beard Trim
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Genentech: Car Washes and Haircuts

The list of benefits offered by this U.S. biotechnology corporation in San Francisco is pretty long. It includes many of the usuals, plus other perks such as fertility support and on-site child care. Genentech also offers on-campus services such as car wash facilities, bike repair, haircut services, and even an "on-site dental van for full-service care."


Related: These Companies Mastered Remote Work Long Before COVID-19


The delicious food is set up and waiting for the meeting attendees to come and serve themselves.
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Google: Free Meals and More

This perk has been pretty well documented but Google — a company we're fairly certain you're familiar with — has various dining halls at its Mountain View, California, campus offering meals, snacks, coffee, and more at all times of the day. All of it is free. Google employees can also bring their dogs to work, are provided with free shuttle service, yoga classes, massages, and more. Oh, and its campuses are also pretty famously cool, with the Sydney, Australia, campus offering plush, padded pods and hammocks for a more relaxed work environment. 


Related: 30 Lies That Bosses Tell Employees

Mature woman doing yoga
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Axios and Workfront: Mental Health Days

Could companies finally be realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health? U.S. news site Axios and software company Workfront grant their employees one day a month to attend to their mental health. Workfront refers to them as "recharge days." Axios told the website Comparably that "our employees' mental health and well-being during a time of global crisis was our collective leadership team's top priority, so we invested time and money to ensure our team members could stay as well as possible and take good care of themselves." 


Related: 25 Expert Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance While Working from Home

Horseback Riding Grand Canyon
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Drift: Regular Sabbaticals

Boston-based sales and marketing company Drift, which employs about 500 people, offers one-month sabbaticals to its workers after three years' worth of employment, and for each three-year period thereafter. The company noted to Comparably that the break "offers employees the chance to relax and reset a little bit after all their hard work. People use this time to travel, work on a passion project, or to rejuvenate and spend time with friends and family. We have seen people spend a month motorcycling around Vietnam, move to Cape Cod, learn the sport of horseback riding, and take an extended honeymoon across Australia and New Zealand."


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Propellernet: Dream Balls

This internet marketing service in Brighton, England, encourages its employees to submit "Dream Balls." What in the world, you may ask, is a dream ball? Employees are encouraged to write down their life's dreams for insertion into the company's large, vintage bubble gum dispenser. Each time Propellernet hits a target or exceeds expectations, managers pull a random Dream Ball and make one worker's fantasy a reality. Among other dreams that Propellernet has made come true, the company has sent two employees to the World Cup in Brazil and funded another on a motorcycle trip across Africa. That in and of itself is a pretty impressive perk, but this employer also has a "Fun Ministry" that plans activities such as massages, group classes, parties, game nights, and more, all funded by 5% of all company profits. 


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Cat at the vet
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Scripps Health: Pet Insurance

Sure, lots of companies cover some health expenses for employees' family members, but what if those family members have fur? Scripps Health, a nonprofit health system in San Diego that employs around 15,000 people, extends medical coverage perks to its workers' dogs and cats. The company offers comprehensive coverage for accidents, illnesses, and routine care through any licensed veterinarian.


Related: 20 Companies Where You Can Bring Your Dog to Work

A television plays at the The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during afternoon trading December 16, 2008 in New York City
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Goldman Sachs: Gender Reassignment Surgery Coverage

In 2007, years before most other companies in the investment banking company sphere had adopted such perks, Goldman Sachs began covering gender reassignment surgery in its employee medical plan. That's not the only area in which it proved itself supportive to the LGBTQ+ community — in 2000, it also expanded employee perks to offer health and relocation benefits to same-sex couples.


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