Airbnb's quirky and cost-effective employee perk

While some companies spend big on their reward and recognition programs, Airbnb has found that it may not always be money that will attract the most attention.

Let’s be honest, we all like to earn a good salary and where wages are widely different from one employer to another that may be a deciding factor for employees. But when the salary differential is minimal, or a candidate is driven by other factors, then sometimes quirky benefits can tip the balance in your favor.

Netflix has grabbed the headlines recently for its commitment to give employees up to a year in parental leave; Virgin also raised a few eyebrows when it announced its policy of unlimited vacations; so what can you do to stand out from the crowd of employers?

In reality many of the more unusual benefits that an employer can offer will ultimately come down to money but often when the candidate converts it into a cash value (or you do that for them) then it is higher than the actual cost to the business.

Using a bit of marketing flair can add additional value too. Take US room rental firm Airbnb; instead of an additional $2000 of salary it is billed as “$2000 to help cover the cost of travel expenses on vacation.” 

Essentially it’s the same cash but it also sends some positive messages to employees – we care about you; we recognise your need for work-life balance; we’re a cool employer….

In terms of cost to the business this is actually a clever play too, working in a similar way to retailers’ offers, because not all employees will take up the benefit or use the full allowance. So the average cost across the workforce of that $2000 benefit will be far less.


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