Smart benefits

Amidst a competitive hiring landscape, a standard benefits package is no longer sufficient to attract top talent. Greater job flexibility, medical coverage for spouses, free meals, and wellness activities are some of the non-traditional perks that are now in demand. HRM finds out more

Employee benefits are clearly an important way of retaining talent. However, in today’s business world, it pays for HR to offer creative alternatives to standard benefits that better meet employees’ professional and personal needs.

According to’s 2012 State of the Workplace: Benefits and Perks study, 95% of Americans weigh job benefits and perks before deciding to either stay put or take on a new position. Benefits such as health insurance, contributions to retirement savings, paid time off and life insurance are so critical that more than half of US workers (60%) would rather spend a night in jail than go without.

The idea of alternative benefits has now expanded even further. These days, a variety of perks can be included in benefit packages, including health club memberships, educational assistance and management training as well as a series of retirement and pension programmes.


Boosting staff wellness

Wellness activities make up a big part of such innovative, flexible benefits schemes. The advantages of providing staff with access to wellness packages range from improving the overall wellbeing of employees, rewarding staff, providing relaxation and recreation for employees, and the potential for sponsorship schemes.

“Getting the right work, life and relaxation balance is becoming a bigger responsibility for companies today,” says Sam Lee, Marketing Manager of Dream Skin. “As employees tackle more work and longer hours in the office, their health and wellbeing can slowly decline.

“Companies which have previously introduced a wellness programme experience a positive, happy, productive and more reliable work team,” he adds.

HR can work with wellness providers such as Dream Skin to customise a wellness programme for their individual company – be it on-site massage services or birthday and long service gift vouchers for employees.

“Besides corporate rates for wellness services such as pain relief therapy, Dream Skin also offers wellness products such as Doctes for facial and skincare, and Meditrina for body, relaxation and healing,” says Lee.


Driving key talent

Owning and operating a company fleet in Singapore can be costly, with high car and Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices, maintenance costs and the risk of vehicle depreciation. This makes leasing or renting a car an increasingly cost-effective way of managing staff transportation. Last year saw an increase of 6.8% in the number of rental cars operating in Singapore, to 14,862 vehicles. That’s 2.5% more than the growth that occurred between 2010 and 2011.

“Despite the looming economic outlook, resultant from the US, Japan and European Union nations since 2009, and super-high COE prices, the population of rental cars went up by 20% over the five years between 2008 to 2012,” says Peter Cheong, General Manager, Daimler Fleet Management Singapore.

Full service leasing has plenty of advantages for HR. It offers the benefits of providing company cars to key talent without the need to maintain the vehicles or worry about having a large liability and depreciating asset on company books. Also, companies need not worry about vehicle disposal.

Predictable and transparent costs let HR budget accurately. “A predetermined vehicle usage cost for the entire lease period ensures that you avoid depreciation risks and negative equity situations,” says Cheong, who is also the president of Singapore’s Vehicle Rental Association.

HR is able to choose preferred make and model of cars and begin access with just a refundable deposit. For instance, a company can pay a deposit of three months for a three-year lease period and gain access to a brand new car.

With automotive leasing, key talent can enjoy maximum convenience. When a car needs servicing, it is simply collected from wherever it’s parked, be it at the office or at the executive’s home, and a replacement car is left in its place.

“Also, if an expatriate’s extended family is in town for the holidays, we provide a one-for-one swap of the executive’s sedan with a seven-seater multipurpose vehicle at no extra charge for that duration,” says Cheong.

The automotive leasing and fleet management industry in Singapore is not only relevant to large multinational corporations (MNCs) but also to small-medium enterprises (SMEs).

“HR can rest assured that full-service operating lease packages are provided with customised solutions to suit the requirements of company car users of MNCs and local SMEs in terms of budget allocation, employment and lease tenure and choices of makes and models,” Cheong explains.


Unusual Job Perks

  • Unlimited Vacation

Red Frog Event Company offers unlimited vacation as part of its employee benefits package. According to CEO Joe Reynolds, taking vacation at Red Frog is encouraged, and even celebrated. Employees simply need to make sure their work is getting done, but they’re covered while they’re away. After five years of working for the company, employees are also rewarded for their loyalty with a four-week, fully-paid trip to Africa, Asia, Europe or South America for them and a friend.

  • Shopping Loans

Umpqua Bank, a community bank based in the US state of Oregon, has a uniquely quirky work environment which includes morning huddles, in-office games and 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer. One of its most unusual perks is its shopping loans for staff to buy their work wear. With a “professional dress advance” of up to US$500 a year, repayable through payroll deductions, staff are able to always look their best.

  • Go Green

Today, companies are committed to greener policies, but none more so than US land development consultancy David Evans and Associates. The company offers its employees cash incentives to ditch their cars and go green. Staff can claim up to US$6 a day if they commute to work by walking, biking, carpooling, or riding the bus.

  • Life After Death

Google is a pioneer when it comes to offering a great package to its employees, but this benefit, launched in 2011, takes looking after your staff to a whole new level. Should one of the US Google team die while still employed by the company, the employee’s surviving spouse or partner will be given 50% of their salary for ten years after the death. There is no small print, or minimum employment time, so the majority of Google’s 34,000 staff are eligible.

Source: Rachel Brown, investment writer and blogger (


A dose of wellness

Dream Skin offers organisations:

  • Discounted corporate rates, up to 40% off services.
  • Free consultation on any skincare problems.
  • Collaboration with corporates for planned wellness programmes.
  • Customised solutions: Birthday and long service gift vouchers for employees.
  • Family-add on option, whereby an employee’s relatives are also entitled to discounted rates.


Benefits of full service leasing

  • Tyre and battery replacement

Replacement of tyres and batteries ensure that your employee’s car is always running.

  • Replacement vehicle

Your staff are always ready to drive, no matter what. In case of maintenance, accidents, theft or technical breakdowns, they are supplied with a replacement vehicle. The faulty vehicle is collected from wherever it is and a new car is left in its place.

  • Accident management

With 24/7 Vehicle Breakdown Attendance and Accident Assistance, all issues are quickly and smoothly taken care of.

  • Maintenance and repair

Full vehicle maintenance and mechanical repairs, even after the expiry of warranty.

  • Vehicle insurance

Comprehensive vehicle insurance with complimentary personal accident insurance.

  • 24/7 Customer care

24-hour Customer Care Centre ensures someone always attends to needs and requests.

  • Cross border usage

Cars can be driven in Malaysia as well. So it’s perfectly fine for staff to drive across the causeway for a weekend getaway.


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Sandeep Aggarwal, Chief Financial Officer of Aon-Hewitt Asia-Pacific, shares his thoughts on the Workday finance and HR analytics platform. He says the cloud-based system is intuitive and easy-to-use, but still provides powerful insights across the functions.

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