Perks Of The Job

Reporter: Rodney Lohse

How often do you ask yourself: am I being paid enough and do I deserve more? How do you get the best deal in negotiations with the boss? Unemployment in Australia is at a record low, meaning the worker has the upper hand for one of the only times in history. And that means bosses are becoming very generous.

According to a Drake Recruitment survey, about 99 per cent of companies in Australia are providing some form of non-financial benefit to staff. Businesses are throwing extra money at their staff, but the big increase in rewards is coming in the way of perks, better known in official circles as non-monetary or financial benefits.

The Drake Recruitment survey of employers found the top five non-financial benefits. Dominic Toledo from Drake said they were common across many jobs. "The main ones are work-life balance, which includes flexible work hours, family-friendly start and finish times, the ability to work from home, workplace accessories such as laptops, mobile phones, home Internet connections, opportunities to work overseas," Mr Toledo said.

Anne Rogers runs a travel agency, in an industry that sounds glamorous but does not pay well. She said as a result, she has to reward her staff in other ways. "This year, we went to Hong Kong, for example, for three days," Anne said. "We went to Tasmania, New Zealand and Sydney to climb the bridge. That was fun."

That's right, every year, Anne takes her staff away for a holiday, just a few days of rest and recreation, at her expense. Employee Patricia D'Angelo says the trip is nice, but it is not the best part of the job. Rather, it is her boss's flexibility, allowing Patricia to work the hours she wants. "I can balance my family life with my working life and I don't think you can get those hours in any other job, so that's important to me," Patricia said.

Staff are also encouraged to travel overseas for education every year. It is company policy that staff have doctor's appointments an hair appointments on company time. Anne says she gets her investment back and then some. "I can't imagine how ill someone would have to be before they didn't come to work," she said. "The attendance is 100 per cent."

Drake's Dominic Toledo believes a happy workforce is a productive workforce. So many people are looking for that work-life balance. "The benefits revolve around retention, productivity, around a positive culture in the workplace and having high morale with their employees," Mr Toledo said.

Flexibility of working hours has certainly kept Kirsten Clarke happy. "I'm very fortunate to be able to work from home one day a week, which enables me to spend that time with my son and enables me to get all my work done at the same time," she said. To enable Kirsten to be flexible, her company, Oyster Bay Wines, has also given a laptop, a car, and home and mobile Internet connections. "We also have a very generous staff purchasing policy, which is great," she said.

Mr Toledo said some companies went as far as giving away things like gym memberships and movie tickets, including Drake. "Drake offers a number of non-monetary benefits to employees, including recognition events overseas for top achievers," he said. "We also have quarterly competitions, which involve iPods and movie passes." But he said that if you are after some perks, ask for things that benefit the company and you, like laptops, phones and further education. And when you get them, don't abuse them. "If you receive a mobile phone, don't make extended phone calls to overseas family and friends," Mr Toledo said.