September 5, 2017

Benefits on the Fringe: 11 Weird or Amusing Benefits


Welcome to Benefits on the Fringe, the monthly column where Jason McDowell covers the most unique benefits today’s employers are using to woo talent, as well as advances and innovations in the employee benefits realm.

Employers can choose from a laundry list of perks and benefits for their employees, and this column has covered many of them. For this edition of Benefits on the Fringe, however, I decided to do something a little different. I took to social media to source the weirdest job perks the internet community had to offer.

I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed. While I had many responses, there simply isn’t enough space for them all. Please enjoy my top picks below:

1. Look Out Below

“I once worked at a fire and police museum. Only employees were allowed to go down the fire pole. We could slide down as many times as we wanted as long as there were no customers.” – Andy M., via Facebook

2. MMM … Pizza?

“So this is kind of a weird one, but the perk was access to the nastiest break room ever so I didn’t have to walk all the way to the cafeteria to heat up my coffee. The microwave would make any item taste like pizza. You brought soup? Now it’s liquid pizza! Hot coffee? Enjoy your pizza! Hamburger? I think you mean pizza! This break room was shown to me by one of the other employees from a different department and literally called a ‘perk.'” – Ashley W., via Facebook

3. Ask Me Tomorrow

“My most useless benefit was with a former employer that supposedly offered a 401(k) option, but was always ‘in the process of switching over to a new provider’ every time I asked about it. It was supposed to be offered after six months of employment. After two years of asking, I just opened a Roth IRA on my own – probably a better option in the long term anyway.” – Rebecca B., via LinkedIn

4. Are You Sure It’s Good?

“I worked at a retail store that allowed us to cash our paychecks [in store]. But we had to have manager approval. To cash the checks that they gave us. It had nothing to do with cash on hand. They were required to sign off on the checks to make sure they were legit. I don’t know if they’d had employees passing off fake payroll checks before or what.” – Jillian M., via Facebook

5. Company Policy, I Swear! 

burger“In college, I worked for a now defunct hamburger place. Our manager gave us a very generous 50 cents off fountain drinks and a dollar off a burger, limit one per shift. We found out later that other restaurants in the chain gave their employees free fountain drinks and burgers.” – Jon M., via Facebook

6. It’s Good For You

“I work at a health insurance company. We get a free piece of fruit every Wednesday. Every other day, they are 75 cents.” – Ronna T., via Facebook

7. Ahoy, Matey!

“I worked for the local Chamber of Commerce, and we were invited to take our families on a Navy destroyer when it was visiting. We took a free cruise on Lake Superior, courtesy of the U.S. Navy.” – Jean H., via LinkedIn

8. Do You Smell That?

“My friend works at a company in a seaside area, and the owner is a big fisherman. So, once a week, they have fresh fish brought in for the employees to purchase. This company is not in any kind of fishery industry.” – Sharon S., via Facebook

9. You’ll Have a Drink, and You’ll Like It!

“I worked in bar that offered one free drink per shift. I would always forgo the drink, so they gave me a free bottle of whiskey every month.” – John B., via LinkedIn

11. Free Leftovers

“I worked for a homebuilder. We lowly office staff were allowed to eat the leftovers from the catered breakfast that the sales staff got at their meeting every Friday. Then – possibly inspired by Seinfeld – the salespeople decided to eat just the top halves of the muffins. So every Friday, we got free fruit and muffin bottoms. That company would also rent buses and take us all on field trips, still requiring a business casual dress code. Sometimes it was industry-related, mostly it was just things like the local aquarium.” – Callie M., via Facebook

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Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.