Benefits could mean gym passes or 12 weeks off with baby

Discover hosts on-site fairs for its 1,400 employees.

Employees at Incyte Corp. have their own concierge.

Community Bank tellers are treated to a holiday shopping spree at a liquor store.

Dover Downs workers enjoy a free night in the casino hotel for their weddings and work anniversaries.

Sallie Mae’s 826 staffers get a free Fitbit Flex and round-the-clock access to a full-size onsite gym with free yoga and Zumba classes.

Teachers at Newark Charter School are guaranteed their children will be accepted — a big deal in a school that gets more than 3,000 applicants for 200 openings.

And, as the labor market tightens and more staffers are starting to stray, more companies are puffing benefits to stave off corporate divorces.

After all, the average time millennials stay on the job is now 2.8 years, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average for all workers isn’t much higher — 4.2 years. That’s down from 4.6 years in 2014.

“It’s rough out there for employers trying to find the right people to join their teams,” said Kelly Marinelli of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “We’re having to get creative for sure.

“The No. 1 benefit that people want and expect to get is health care. That hasn’t changed, but, in a tight market, it’s not good enough to just pay the going rate and not offer something more beyond health care for employees,” Marinelli said.

Newlyweds Greg and Renee Gyarmati enjoy a night at Dover Downs, just one of company’s employee benefits.

Ninety-four percent of union workers have health insurance at work, but only 67 percent of nonunion workers do, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beyond that, there’s a wish list of benefits, from oddball to outstanding.

To avoid labor pains, savvy employers are offering everything from pet insurance to employee carnivals to woo workers. And, more than half the employers in a recent MetLife survey said using benefits to retain employees will become even more important in the next three to five years.

Nearly one-third of organizations increased their benefit packages in the last 12 months, according to a SHRM report. Benefits now make up about 32 percent of the average private employee compensation package and about 37 percent of the average local or state government worker package.

Tech companies lead the way with Spotify’s free egg freezing and fertility treatments, Genentech’s onsite spa and car wash, and Google’s free gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, but local companies have gotten creative, too. At least one Wilmington company has an
onsite car wash.

Newark Charter School, one of the top-rated schools in the state, offers all employees a “very generous” bonus at the end of each school year, and teachers’ children receive preference in admissions. Teachers at every public school in Delaware get preferential admission for their children, but most schools don’t have a 6.7 percent acceptance rate like Newark Charter.

“With a school that’s in demand as much as our school is, with more than 3,000 applicants a year for 200 spots, that’s a pretty good benefit,” said School Director Gregory R. Meece.

Some benefits are just fun add-ons. Buccini/Pollin employees can get 10 percent off that daily latte at Starbucks. WSFS offers onsite yoga at its corporate office. Discover and Dover Downs host employee carnivals. At Harvey Hanna, employees get a turkey at Thanksgiving, a ham at the holidays and occasional free tickets to the Phillies or Flyers. The 33 employees at Community Bank in Lewes and Rehoboth get a free holiday shopping spree (up to $125)
at Outlet Liquors on Del. 1.

Some benefits are pricier: Bucccini/Pollin offers associates discounts at all the company’s restaurants, at its beer garden, at its IMAX theater on the Riverfront and at 40 hotels outside Delaware. Sallie Mae offers employees 30 percent off their health care costs if they get biometric screenings and follow clinicians’ recommendations. The State of Delaware picks up 90 percent of employees’ health insurance costs.

The top family plan costs the employee only $272.86 per month.

Some are shades of Silicon Valley: Incyte Corp. offers infertility benefits, walking stations, errand-running services, onsite massages, dry cleaning services and an onsite car wash at its Augustine Cut-Off headquarters.

Companies often focus on the benefits that are important to them, SHRM’s Marinelli said.

• At Discover, that means the bank’s 1,400 Delaware employees have a fully staffed health clinic, onsite massages, free annual flu shots, healthy menu options at the company café and an onsite fitness center.

• At Sallie Mae, where several senior managers are veterans, employees get 12 fully paid weeks of military leave. “We are doing the right thing by them so they can go and serve and not worry out their jobs or their incomes,” said Benefits Manager Iris Gonzales. Sallie Mae also offers 12 fully paid weeks of parental leave for primary caregivers and six fully paid weeks for secondary caregivers, and, beginning next year, they’ll offer high-end pet insurance so employees can choose their vet.

• Buccini/Pollin offers employees up to two months free rent on the 1,000 apartments it owns in the city. “We want people to live in the city. We want them to work in the city and we want them to play in the city,” said Dan McCarthy, BPG’s vice president of human resources.

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