A lot of happiness at little cost
When copywriter Tang Wen En visited New York on a holiday with friends earlier this year, his company subsidised his trip.
Mr Tang, 27, who received about $1,000, which mainly went towards the airfare of his two-week trip, says: "In some companies, taking leave is taboo but in this case, it really matters to me that the company wants us to travel."
His company, creative agency The Secret Little Agency, says its 26 employees get an annual travel subsidy of between $450 and $8,000, based on seniority. Its chief executive Nicholas Ye, 29, says this is to ensure that everyone in the company leaves the country at least once a year, to broaden his horizons.
The only criterion? The trip must not be for work.
In order to attract and retain talent, companies are offering perks beyond the standard annual leave, medical benefits and a well-stocked pantry.
In the United States, some companies reportedly provide free on-site dog-grooming services, yoga classes and home-cleaning services for staff.
Singapore firms are offering some interesting perks too.
Networking company Cisco allows all its staff to work from anywhere they fancy. Google provides discounted massages for staff. Internet start-ups Roomorama and Chope have bring-your-dog-to-work policies.
Hotel Royal Plaza on Scotts offers associates an extra day of leave - "Me-day" leave - during their birthday month, while social media marketing start-up Gushcloud allows staff to spend one day a month pursuing their own interests.
Ms Wendy Heng, 35, manager of sales and marketing at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Singapore, says: "As we advance into a mature market, employment packages have also evolved to include more than just monetary and standard benefits."
Employers, she adds, are adopting "more interesting lifestyle perks" to help retain staff and to set them apart from other companies.
Mr Chris Mead, 45, regional director of recruitment company Hays in Singapore, says perks are usually offered as part of a wider benefits package, helping to facilitate work-life balance and motivate staff.
Sometimes, such perks do not cost employers much.
Ms Althea Lim, 28, co-founder of social media marketing company Gushcloud, says her 12 staff get the last Friday of every month off to pursue their own projects.
"It doesn't cost us anything because of the value that comes back to the company - the happiness quotient in the office is much higher."
She says some have taken the time to pick up skills, such as driving or playing golf, while others are working on projects such as organising a photo exhibition or learning to produce a music album.
Internet company Netccentric gives its staff a mid-week break instead.
One Wednesday every quarter is declared Mystery Wednesday, where the human resources division at Netccentric will organise a secret activity for the 53 staff.
This month, the staff went to a shooting range in Yishun. Previous activities included cycling, ice skating and trips to Universal Studios Singapore and the zoo.
Netccentric's co-founder Cheo Ming Shen, 30, says the mid-week break allows staff to recharge. Plus, the mystery element adds excitement to the group outing.
While it might be easier for small companies to implement quirky lifestyle perks, Ms Heng from Robert Walters says she is "starting to see larger companies show more flexibility in such schemes".
A good example is networking firm Cisco Singapore, which allows all its 1,000 staff to work from anywhere they choose.
Mr Joshua Soh, 44, managing director of Cisco Singapore and Brunei, says flexible and mobile work arrangements allow employees to "integrate" their job responsibilities with their family's needs.
He says employees can take their children to the park at 4pm, and get online again at 8pm when their children have gone to bed.
Ms Kwok Wai Mui, 37, a programme manager at Cisco, says she goes into the office for some meetings but often works from home. The married mother of two children, aged two years and one, even takes her work to a cafe once a week when she needs a change of environment.
Says Ms Kwok of the freedom to run her errands in the middle of the day and then work again after dinner: "I still work a full eight-hour or 10-hour day, but I'm in control of my time. It would be very rough going back to a desk job without this flexibility."

A lot of happiness at little cost

When copywriter Tang Wen En visited New York on a holiday with friends earlier this year, his company subsidised his trip.

Mr Tang, 27, who received about $1,000, which mainly went towards the airfare of his two-week trip, says: "In some companies, taking leave is taboo but in this case, it really matters to me that the company wants us to travel."

His company, creative agency The Secret Little Agency, says its 26 employees get an annual travel subsidy of between $450 and $8,000, based on seniority. Its chief executive Nicholas Ye, 29, says this is to ensure that everyone in the company leaves the country at least once a year, to broaden his horizons.

The only criterion? The trip must not be for work.

In order to attract and retain talent, companies are offering perks beyond the standard annual leave, medical benefits and a well-stocked pantry.

In the United States, some companies reportedly provide free on-site dog-grooming services, yoga classes and home-cleaning services for staff.

Singapore firms are offering some interesting perks too.

Networking company Cisco allows all its staff to work from anywhere they fancy. Google provides discounted massages for staff. Internet start-ups Roomorama and Chope have bring-your-dog-to-work policies.

Hotel Royal Plaza on Scotts offers associates an extra day of leave - "Me-day" leave - during their birthday month, while social media marketing start-up Gushcloud allows staff to spend one day a month pursuing their own interests.

Ms Wendy Heng, 35, manager of sales and marketing at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Singapore, says: "As we advance into a mature market, employment packages have also evolved to include more than just monetary and standard benefits."

Employers, she adds, are adopting "more interesting lifestyle perks" to help retain staff and to set them apart from other companies.

Mr Chris Mead, 45, regional director of recruitment company Hays in Singapore, says perks are usually offered as part of a wider benefits package, helping to facilitate work-life balance and motivate staff.

Sometimes, such perks do not cost employers much.

Ms Althea Lim, 28, co-founder of social media marketing company Gushcloud, says her 12 staff get the last Friday of every month off to pursue their own projects.

"It doesn't cost us anything because of the value that comes back to the company - the happiness quotient in the office is much higher."

She says some have taken the time to pick up skills, such as driving or playing golf, while others are working on projects such as organising a photo exhibition or learning to produce a music album.

Internet company Netccentric gives its staff a mid-week break instead.

One Wednesday every quarter is declared Mystery Wednesday, where the human resources division at Netccentric will organise a secret activity for the 53 staff.

This month, the staff went to a shooting range in Yishun. Previous activities included cycling, ice skating and trips to Universal Studios Singapore and the zoo.

Netccentric's co-founder Cheo Ming Shen, 30, says the mid-week break allows staff to recharge. Plus, the mystery element adds excitement to the group outing.

While it might be easier for small companies to implement quirky lifestyle perks, Ms Heng from Robert Walters says she is "starting to see larger companies show more flexibility in such schemes".

A good example is networking firm Cisco Singapore, which allows all its 1,000 staff to work from anywhere they choose.

Mr Joshua Soh, 44, managing director of Cisco Singapore and Brunei, says flexible and mobile work arrangements allow employees to "integrate" their job responsibilities with their family's needs.

He says employees can take their children to the park at 4pm, and get online again at 8pm when their children have gone to bed.

Ms Kwok Wai Mui, 37, a programme manager at Cisco, says she goes into the office for some meetings but often works from home. The married mother of two children, aged two years and one, even takes her work to a cafe once a week when she needs a change of environment.

Says Ms Kwok of the freedom to run her errands in the middle of the day and then work again after dinner: "I still work a full eight-hour or 10-hour day, but I'm in control of my time. It would be very rough going back to a desk job without this flexibility."