9 Companies Investing in Happiness

happinessAchieving work-life balance can be complicated, and there’s no one universal definition. But when employers make an effort to invest in their employee's happiness it can make a huge difference. That’s where these companies come in. Their benefits packages go above and beyond free snacks in the office (though those are great too).

1. Google
The tech giant has been investing in employee happiness since 2007, when it lengthened its paid maternity leave policy from 12 to 18 weeks — ultimately improving female employee turnover by 50 percent. Google also offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for new parents (moms, dads, domestic partners, adoptive and surrogate parents). Bonus: New parents get $500 of cash money to use during the first few months after birth.

Beyond parental leave, Google employees get paid time off to volunteer and college tuition reimbursement for courses that help them be better employees, such as learning a new coding language or revamping technical skills. With unlimited sick days, they don’t have to worry about dipping into vacation days if the flu hits. Employees don’t have to hustle to get to the gym, either: They can use the on-site fitness center (or enjoy a discounted gym membership).

2. Zappos
The leading shoe retailer is not only 60 percent female, according to Fortune, but it pays 100 percent of premiums for medical, dental, vision, and primary care visits, and it offers free generic prescriptions. The company prefers to have employees work on their own, instead of being traditionally managed by a supervisor, in the hopes of encouraging creativity and self-direction. Other perks include nap pods, an employee library, weekly team fun (including games of ping-pong, air hockey, and pool), no dress code, half days on Fridays, and puppies visiting the office on occasion, to name a few. Free food and coffee are the norm. Zappos also offers an on-site fitness center and wellness coaches, so working out is that much easier.

3. Nordstrom
Nordstrom’s staff is 70 percent women, and with an on-site medical care facility and fitness center, health and wellness are priorities. Nordstrom also gives employees the option of compressed workweeks — such as working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days — or even to telecommute. Benefits for same-sex couples are no question.

4. Build-a-Bear Workshop
The toy retailer is 86 percent women, and nearly one-third of its employees are people of color, according to Fortune. With flexible schedules at the World Bearquarters in St. Louis, employees can personalize their workweeks based on their lifestyles. And for employees who still can’t find the time to balance everyday to-dos in and out of the office, Build-a-Bear offers concierge services — a doggy day spa with pickup and drop-off, on-site oil changes, and dry cleaning pickup and delivery. Pets also get to work alongside employees on designated days.

5. Mayo Clinic
Maybe it’s no surprise that a leading health-care organization would care about employee wellness, but Mayo Clinic eclipses its peers. According to Fortune, it offers an on-site fitness center, discounted gym memberships, and a medical care facility. The cafeteria offers healthy meals, according to the company website, and the building has private lactation rooms for nursing women. Mayo Clinic also reimburses employees’ adoption expenses up to $10,000. For commuters, Mayo Clinic provides free bus passes, vanpools, and campus shuttles to make traveling to and from work that much easier. And for employees with kids, a $3,000 annual scholarship is available based on national college entrance exam scores.

6. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude’s motto for employee benefits is: “We understand that you don’t check your life at the door when you come to work.” Through the program LifeCare® Work/Life Balance, the St. Jude team helps employees handle everything from parenting to general life stress. Through LifeCare, workers can take part in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides free professional counseling for both employees and dependents; get low-cost legal advice; and even get emotional and logistical support when planning funerals for loved ones. The company offers time-off programs and compressed workweeks for employees who work 20 hours a week or more. And according to Fortune, St. Jude’s team is 67 percent women.

7. The Container Store
The Container Store simplifies storage for its customers and makes employees’ lives easier. It offers discounted gym memberships, fully paid sabbaticals, and transportation benefits for commuters. Its corporate wellness program is available online 24/7 for health and wellness needs, and pet insurance is offered for people with furry friends at home. Domestic partners and common-law spouses are covered by these benefits as well.

8. American Express
Amex offers flexible hours, plus an on-site gym and cafe. Qualified employees are reimbursed for public transportation costs and tuition costs. For those who enjoy volunteering but can’t find the time, Amex offers paid time off to help the community. The organization thrives on building networks for employees to have discussions and build a community focused on work-life balance: The largest of its company networks is The Women’s Interest Network (WIN) — 60 percent of Amex’s employees are women — and a favorite in the U.S. is the BlueWork Network for the nearly 2,000 employees who work on the road or from home.

9. Bright Horizons Family Solutions
Bright Horizons is known for providing high-quality child care at workplace centers. With a workforce that’s 95 percent women, the company not only understands family needs but has created comprehensive systems to accommodate them, too. Some adoption assistance is available for full-time employees to reduce the high costs of the process, and backup child and elder care is available 24 hours a day and last-minute. That backup system bolsters the standard child-care discount offered to support families who shouldn’t have to sacrifice care for work. Rounding out the perks are an on-site fitness center, college tuition reimbursement, and full same-sex partner benefits.

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