A cool office has become more than just a point of pride for employees; it’s become a recruiting tool. With high-level talent at a premium for top jobs across a bevy of industries, employers are packing in the office perks to beat out their competitors for the next generation of staff.
CEOs have gotten creative to make sure they’re able to attract top talent out of the universities and from other companies, and once they’re hired, they’re excited to come to work every day. Whether it’s a happy hour every Friday or a fitness competition that brings staff together and offers rewards, Houston offices are sparing no expense when it comes to making their offices the Best Places to Work in Houston.
Companies big and small have placed a big emphasis on company fitness. Sometimes that takes the form of an incentive-based program for steps walked or pounds dropped, providing the latest wearable technology, such as a Fitbit, that allows the office to compete, or even having a full on-site gym for employees to work out.
It’s part employee perk, part cost savings. With the Affordable Care Act shifting the way employers have to cover their employees, it pays in the long run to have a healthy office because it could prevent higher premiums as a result of expensive hospital visits from employees.
Science shows that sitting at a desk pounding away on a keyboard can be detrimental to your neck, back, wrists, fingers, and a number of other important body parts. So employers have been making a conscientious effort to provide a more comfortable work environment, and it’s been transforming the cubicle farm.
This ergonomic evolution includes standing, walking and biking desks. Made easier by the fact that technology is increasingly more mobile, employees are able to stretch their legs as they see fit. Houston employers have either made each employee’s desk standing compatible or build extra standing workstations for employees to plug into when they need to get away from their desk.
Ergonomics also include more supportive chairs or keyboards that lessen the strain on an employee’s day to day.
Work hard, play hard
One of the defining cliches of a cool office is a Ping Pong table for workers to use, and Houston’s offices are no different.
Some of the finalists have the Ping Pong table, while others take it a step further with regular Nerf Gun fights, Halloween costume contests, fantasy football leagues and even a full arcade game room.
Today’s new hires want more out of a job than just a paycheck. They want experience, interaction and just to have fun, which is why perks like these make a difference.
Cubicle farms are out, and open offices are in. Many of HBJ’s Best Places to Work have an open-office plan. Open office plans have been found to encourage collaboration, open communication and build employee culture — a key recruiting point for today’s workforce.
Some say open workspaces can get too noisy, which is true if they aren’t managed well. However, open offices usually include private workspaces or an understanding that during certain hours of the day, conversation needs to be kept at a low volume.
Tech and gadgets
Today’s business is done with a tablet or smartphone in hand, and Houston companies are making sure their employees are well equipped. HBJ found many employees buy their employees the latest in tech, such as new laptops, iPads and phones, to help them do business.
Companies are also taking advantage of corporate buying power to help their employees get hooked up with new toys. Several employers in Houston offer buy-back programs where they pay for an employee’s new personal tech, and the employee pays it back over time in a no-interest payment plan.
It’s five o’clock somewhere
It turns out Don Draper and the cast of Mad Men aren’t the only ones who enjoy a cocktail or cold beer at the office. OK, maybe Houston’s offices aren’t drinking at 11 a.m., but they still enjoy libations.
Whether it be a fully stocked bar in the office, happy hours after work, or champagne or beer on a Friday afternoon, many Houston offices use a drink after a long day as a way to bring a friendlier atmosphere to the office.
Another easy perk to give your employees is food. Some companies go as far as catering lunch everyday, while others provide healthy and sometimes not-so-healthy snacks in the break room.
English + Associates Architects Inc. has built a garden on its parking lot where it grows vegetables and herbs for its employees to harvest.
There’s two benefits here, the first being financial. Healthy foods lead to healthier employees, which lowers health insurance costs down the road. The second is an employee perk. Good food at the office saves employees from buying lunch everyday, saving them cash and hopefully, keeping them around the office.
BPTW Honorees Weigh In
“For the past six years, we’ve had a tradition known as Champagne Friday. We pause every Friday to acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments — big and small.”
— Aimee Woodall, CEO and founder of Blacksheep, a public relations firm that ranked No. 4 in the small company category on HBJ’s Best Places to Work List.
“In the design and development of (our new office) a committee was formed with several employees that had input on color scheme, furniture, layout, kitchen amenities and naming of meeting rooms. This collaboration has created a space where employees feel a sense of pride.”
— Leslie Lindsey, internal operations specialist at Vaco, a staffing company that came in at No. 41 in the small company category on HBJ’s Best Places to Work List.
“We enjoy mentoring internally. There’s a number of professionals who take a passion in making sure those coming up through the ranks have a path to do that.”
— Larry Heard , CEO of the Transwestern family of companies, which ranked No. 11 in the large company category and has made HBJ’s Best Places to Work List for 13 years.
By the numbers
62% — Amount of HBJ’s Best Places to Work employees who feel they’re being paid fairly for the value they bring to the organization.
70% — Amount of HBJ’s Best Places to Work employees who feel their immediate supervisor regularly gives them constructive job feedback.
84% — Percent of HBJ’s Best Places to Work employees who feel their job is in line with their career goals, compared to 78 percent nationally.
92% — Amount of HBJ’s Best Places to Work employees who feel loyal to their immediate team or work group.
85.87 — The average score of all the companies on HBJ’s 2015 Best Places to Work List.
85.83 — The average score nationally.
86.01 — The average score of HBJ’s Best Places to Work companies in 2014.
Source: HBJ Survey Data
By: Joe Martin
SOURCE: Houston Business Journal