The top 5 most over-the-top employee benefits from tech companies

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Ive seen my fair share of company benefits after 10+ years recruiting for tech companies.Tech Startups in San Francisco are known for having extensive benefits from daily lunchesto paid gym memberships or free monthly massages. Before I share some of the coolest benefits Ive come across, I have a word of advice for new companies

Before offering

Ive learned from experience working withsmall startupsand fromfounding Bettsthat benefits can become a tricky subject.

When you are deciding which benefits to offer, keep in mind that as a company scales, the cost of benefits will increase too.Covering the cost of gym memberships for10 employees becomes a drastically different cost when your team grows to 100.

Also, be sure to think through the benefits you are offering. Asfun as Summer Fridays sound, theycan set your team up for a rough wake-up call come fall.

Looking for some benefit inspiration? These tech companies go above and beyond.

1.Elevated benefits

Weve heard of companies paying for their gym membership. Weve seen Instagrams of a friends team working at a food bank for an annualvolunteering day. But having a $100 Wellness Credit to spend on whicheverself-care tacticfeels most personally effective? Now thats interesting.

SalesforceIQ knows that people have different ways of relaxing, whether its a round of golf, a Zumba class at the gym, or hiking in the National Parks.SalesforceIQtakes a similar approach to their volunteering program, and letsemployees pick the cause theyd like to spend their time on.

They offer6 paid volunteering days annually, and a monthly $100 stipend for wellness. Though Idobelievethat spending a day volunteeringor running a 5kcan be a great team building activity, being able to choose the specifics within a broader benefitis a great way to ensureindividual satisfaction.

2.Need a day? Take a day.

Have you heard of unlimited PTO?Its atrend in benefitsthatsbecoming increasingly popular in the benefits suiteoffered bytech companies.

Atlassians versionis calledVacay Your Way.Instead of watching your hours painstakingly accrue, unlimited PTO plans allow employees take time off when they need it.The theory behind thisis that life happens, and usually not at the exact time you have accrued the perfect amount of PTO.

If you need to take time off to care for family, recover from an injury, or just plain need a mental health day, these plans allow for that. The expectation is that work will be handled appropriately before taking an extended vacation, but it truly is the kind of benefit that treats employees as the responsible adults they are ( or should be!).

3.Health, handled

Though insurance may notseem like the most exciting benefit, having extensive coverage can be a literal lifesaver.

Indeed offers emergency insurance that sendsanairambulance anywhere in the world.While its not something you would necessarily plan for, having a speedy pick-up afterfalling on a hike in the Australian Outback couldabsolutelybe a lifesaver.

Want to have children, but not quite ready yet?Google, LinkedIn, Intel, Spotify, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Wayfair areall reportedto offer fully paid coverage for IVF and egg freezing.The initial process can cost upwards of $10k, withan annual storage fee of $800.

While the ideasounds great to empower womens choices about having children, a scrappy start up may want to think twice before offering this as it would be extremely costly to scale.

4.The list goes on and on!

Imagine working in an office with a Zen room for meditating and receiving complimentary massages. What if I told you that same company would also send you to one conference of your choice annually, and keep your bookshelf stocked with the help of Amazon book gift cards?Not to mention the onsite OctoDojo gymGithubs benefit suitetruly does goabove and beyond.

5.Beach house

Perhaps one of the more creative benefits Ive seen,YMediarecentlyannounced thatit rented ahomein Hawaiiindefinitelyforallemployees to use.

With 10 bedrooms, and similar homes going for $10k a week on Airbnb, this beach house seems like a luxurious getaway. Every employee, no matter their title or length of tenure at Y Media, can book a week vacation there.Talk about vacation envy!

Having major FOMO?

Glamorous trips and company Zen gardens aside,not all benefits have to be encrusted in gold to feel plentiful.

Some of the best perks turn out to be relatively inexpensive. Recently at Betts Recruiting, we had a beer pong tournament to celebratethe team crushingtheir quotasatthe end of the quarter.The officeended up hustlingmore foraBP tournament thanforaSpiff with awesome seats at aChance the Rapper concert!

Having random partners and a bracketon a whiteboardturned out to be the perfectway for people to get to know each other better, and definitely raised some healthy competition.

Carolyn Betts Fleming is the Founder and CEO of Betts Recruiting, the leading global recruitment firm specializing in matching revenue-generating talent with the worlds most innovative companies.

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How to bring humanity and tech together: Innovators and advocates on hope for the future

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The headlines are everywhere.

Social media makes us narcissists. Screen time atrophies the brain. Work is inescapable. We sleep less, weigh more, and report higher levels of depression all thanks to the onslaught of tech.

On the other hand, many of technologys benefits are undeniable: longer life spans, reduced poverty, and the democratization of both knowledge and opportunity.

The question is: Can we bring humanity and tech into harmony?

To find an answer, I connected with some of techs biggest names executives at places like Dropbox, Deloitte, Canon, Polycom, and more as well as a few of techs lesser-known stars. Their answers point toward hope in our work, commerce, and connections.

Humanizing the tech we work with

Workplace communication is often lamented as the very antithesis of humanity.

Memo-driven hierarchies, reply-all email chains, and new cover sheets on your TPS reports are partly to blame. But the real disease lies deeper: namely, control, our desire to solidify tools and processes from the top down.

Ironically, the antidote comes from a relationship to tech that unshackles tools and processes, instead, from the bottom up.

Technology should work for people, not the other way around. It succeeds when it fits seamlessly into our lives and solves real problems. Too often, it forces us to change our behavior to fit its own limitations. Think about how painful it can be to file an expense report compared to how easy it is to pay a friend with Venmo.

Increasingly the question of whether technology helps us or hurts us is our decision people will choose the products they love. The way to make tech more human is to listen.

The future of work will be driven by technology, but technology at home and at work is and always will be bound by the desires, wants, passions, and needs of human beings. In enterprises, its a trend known as the consumerization of IT. More and more, the tools we use at work are being driven by consumers, instead of management. The professional rise of text and video, for instance, is a direct reflection of that same rise in our day to day lives.

The key, however, is to prioritize bandwidth for infrastructure and freedom for personal choice.

Technology should be viewed as a way to better connect, rather than divide, human interactions. For example, AV/VR technologies combined with ubiquitous, broadband capabilities could enhance the collaborations of workers in remote locations.

Regarding intelligent automation, we dont foresee a quick, wholesale pivot to robotics but rather humans staying in the loop to perform the higher value work of making decisions and taking actions based on insights produced by machines.

So with the right mindset, technology can enrich work rather than impoverish it. It can accentuate our humanity and maximize our potential.

At its core, work is about communication. It’s about people sharing work, ideas, and opinions. Productivity suites were built to facilitate this but that was a long time ago. The way we communicate has shifted dramatically since then, and we need not a better but an entirely new way to work together.

If we redesigned productivity software around the way people work today connected, mobile, and social how would it work? Wed elevate the fundamentals of human communication over esoteric features that most people dont even use anymore and unify content and communication. Its a next-generation way to work together.

Making commerce relevant and inclusive

To say the Internet fundamentally changed commerce is an understatement. However, the gulf between physical and digital products as well as the gulf between the haves and have-nots has been a bane since its inception.

For consumers, more automation often means less individuality. Especially when it comes to irrelevant marketing and the disenfranchised. Can technology bridge these worlds?

The lines between ecommerce and commerce are blurring as more and more brands look to experiment with traditional retail models. Pop-up shops for product drops and digital showrooms where people can co-create through VR, AR, and 3D are just two examples.

Whether in-person, online, or blended, these experiences should integrate with purchase history, browsing behavior, and geolocation. Bringing those pieces together creates the kind of deep personalization we naturally crave.

Paradoxically, I think machines are going to help us make our relationships with our customers more human.

With advances in machine learning, digital assistants will be able to understand customer history and context and handle repetitive tasks much better.

This will free humans to focus more on the relationship instead of rote tasks.

The key is to remember that technology even AI and cognitive serves at the pleasure of the people. Its easy to be seduced by the multitude of magic wands at our disposal, but it’s always about the wizard.

The best way to bring humanity back to tech is to force yourself to be surrounded by people. Sitting in an office, spitting out reports, and using them to infer customer needs and desires is shortsighted. And that robs us of what is really lacking in much of technology today: empathy.

Start with requiring the makers of technology to spend two hours per week with real customers, observing how they use it.

Theres a misunderstanding that technology is somehow neutral or unbiased, which is simply not true: anything made by humans is going to be biased, so we need to have a bias for inclusion.”

It might seem counterintuitive, but we can make financial services more human by servicing the underserved via a smartphone app versus a traditional bank. Many of our customers call us family; they think of us as a friend or a partner.

Were able to include people who are excluded from traditional finance. Women, for example, often encounter discrimination in a face-to-face interaction with a male lender; being able to access credit from the palm of their hand is liberating. Even men tell us they are afraid to face more formal lenders sometimes for fear of rejection and the shame that might bring them. Having a private, personal relationship with your financial services validates our customers humanity, and reminds them that someone out there believes in them.

Fostering connections that dont add to the noise

Perhaps the most daunting challenge is how tech affects relationships. Study after study not only documents the increasing time we spend behind screens but also their interpersonal dark side.

Of course, how we use technology is far more important than what and when. Setting aside its abuses and, in some cases, combating them means leveraging our new-found interconnectedness for the good.

We need to remember why technology is evolving in the first place: it solves real problems and connects people.

One example includes using the latest imaging technology to help find missing children or prevent the exploitation of children. Canon has partnered for the last 20 years with The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by providing the latest state-of-the-art technology which allows law enforcement to quickly disseminate photos across the U.S., not just to law-enforcement, but through social media as well.

We released a feature called Content Suggestions in 2014, and there was a substantial bump in platform use. Many users loved it. However, we noticed that some were sharing identical posts without reading them.

Essentially, we were contributing to spam, which was not great for content creators and also not great for Buffer as a product. We believe in creating authentic voices on social media, and this broke down that trust users had in us.

Even though this feature had lots of traction we ultimately decided to shut it down. At the time, we had our values of Listen First and Do the right thing top of mind.

With the rise of chatbots and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, talking to computers is becoming the norm. The challenge at this point is how to personalize interactions, and connect humans and computers on a more intimate level.

Brands are already taking the lead in engaging conversational experiences are tailoring their bot personas to directly reflect their target audience for the best chance of retention and engagement. In messaging platforms planning a personality that informs the dialogue and entire interaction with consumers is critical. These authentic brand experiences wont be led by engineers but rather writers and designers, who can connect humans to technology through storytelling.

Technology has the ability to connect people across the artificial lines in the sand we call nation-state borders. At BITNATION we’re using the blockchain technology to help people create their own nations, based on their beliefs and desires, rather than on where they were arbitrarily born.

Using the blockchain we’ve helped refugees. People have used our technology to get married, to title their land, to write birth certificates and wills, and much more.

Make technology about people and not about technology

Writing about the patron saint of innovation, columnist Jason Hiner explained, Steve Jobss most important contribution will be that he made technology about people and not about technology.

Is there hope for the future of humanity and tech? Certainly. This doesnt mean the pitfalls are easy to avoid, but it does mean theyre far from inevitable.

Tangible buying experiences, serving the underserved, the consumerization of IT, and crossing traditional borders all point to the power of tech to reinforce our humanity rather than undercut it.

After all, humans arent merely dominated by tech. We are its creators and hope lies in the image of ourselves we stamp upon it.

Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.

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