Startups Offer So Many Extravagant Perks, They Have Begun Hiring People Just To Manage It All

Massage spa relax
Massages are offered every other Wednesday at Pinterest Shutterstock

Free snacks, yoga class, bottomless drinks, and a back massage may sound like a night at an all-inclusive luxury resort, but for employees at Pinterest it’s just another day at the office.

Tech companies desperate for talent are engaged in an all out free perks arms race, which has lead to the creation of a new job category, Rachel Feintzeig at the Wall Street Journal reports.

The startup director of workplace manages all aspects of worker happiness from free catering to exercise classes, team beer nights, and a slew of other benefits,

Razia Ferdousi-Meyer, a former guest-relations coordinator at the Ritz-Carlton in New York and current office manager at Shutterstock Inc., says it’s her job “to know who likes the Kind bars, who likes the potato chips, who likes the coconut water.”

Pinterest’s senior director of workplace oversees nine aim-to-please employees. Her team organizes everything from company-only classes in muay thai to a Japanese-themed lunch and Jell-O shot-making “studio night.”

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A bar at Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro

They distribute dried mango and fresh towels throughout Pinterest’s San Francisco-based office, and ensure the zen meditation room, library, and a shared desk custom-built from a vintage Ford Mustang are up to snuff.

“We are just providing basic standards,” says Ms. Nguyen.

But these basic standards come with a price. Pinterest shells out around $US1,250 for bi-weekly happy hours, and has a $US14,000 budget for events such as wine tastings and terrarium-building classes, on top of the cost of free lunches, dinners and snacks.

And Pinterest is not alone. Software company Asana, which only recently hired its first employees solely focused on perks, already distributes a $US10,000-per-person allowance for computers and desk décor.

Office Tour Pinterest
One shared desk at Pinterest is custom-built from a vintage Ford Mustang Business Insider / Jillian D’Onfro

The company’s chief operating officer Kenny Van Zant says these benefits simply allow workers to focus on their jobs. Free gym memberships and catered lunches eliminate the hassle of running out to the gym during lunch or scrambling to order food between tasks.

Critics however, claim that the strategy is short sighted. Workers can become frustrated if freebies are doled out more frequently than raises, and if a company’s business goes south, workers will become angry when benefits are cut.

Some workers also don’t recognise limits, and the barrage of perks can lead to outlandish demands and a sense of entitlement.

But Nuha Masri, a 25-year-old former Google employee, tells the The Wall Street Journal that she can’t imagine working at a company without generous perks.

“I obviously have options,” she says in the midst of juggling lines of computer code and a board game. “I can be anywhere I want to be.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal >