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STELLPFLUG COLUMN: Work perks have exploded for some lucky employees

STELLPFLUG COLUMN: Work perks have exploded for some lucky employees

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Going out on a limb, I am going to say that some employees are very spoiled by perks, employee benefits and a whole lotta lattes. I say that because we have all heard about workplaces that actually have out and out arguments about how much coffee goes into a pot of coffee – 11 or 12 scoops?—which floor of the building has the better coffee machine, and what flavor creamers should be available.

It doesn’t stop there. Once the coffee is flowing, the tea drinkers feel discriminated against and the smokers are still grumbling under their foul breaths about missing smoking breaks. It is one thing to get free coffee, but choice beans and type of roast seems a bit spoiled to me.

We all like perks. We love the little extras like doughnuts on Fridays or the occasional birthday cake. Like many things that start out small, the escalations of benefits have no limits. Today there are corporations that stop at nothing to entice employees to come to work, and stay at work. Yoga classes and massages are just the tip of the perky iceberg.

To say some employees these days are spoiled is the understatement of the decade. Keep in mind, I did say some. The rest of us have to plod along with business as usual, without Fajita Fridays and ping pong tables in lounges.

In the past, people were lucky to find a job, work hard, earn a living wage and go home. When many of us were seeking employment, we were happy with a half-hour lunch break and only a five-day work week. A chair that swiveled was a benefit and a snack machine in the lobby was a real bonus. Compare that to ergonomic furniture and a full-service cafeteria in the building with three free meals a day.

Over the decades of our lives we have all been champions for fair salaries, reasonable hours and tasks that are not going to break backs or stress the life out of a worker. The addition of health insurance, individual retirement plans and vacation time was welcomed, but those are old news.

Pet-friendly offices are springing up, never mind about the co-workers who are allergic, and free burgers and fries are part of some businesses. Daily pints of ice cream might woo some away from their present jobs but covering the cost of egg freezing and fertility assistance could definitely be a lure. ETSY offers 26 weeks of paid parental leave, and American Express has up to five months paid leave. Google has free meals at 30 cafes offering a variety of ethnic food and some companies offer not only free tuition for continuing education, but tutoring and CliffsNotes.

If I could do it all over again, I am certain I would apply for a job where they offer more than health insurance, a sick day or two and an occasional Christmas party. I would hold out for the paid continuing education, flextime and at least a once-a-week happy hour. Dry cleaning on site and free wine and beer on Fridays might not have been a deal breaker, but it sure sounds fun.

I would say forget the nap pods and free mechanical bull rides, and assure pay equity, child care and maternity and paternity leave. Two hours of free housekeeping and pet insurance is appealing, but flextime and shorter work weeks are family friendly.

Northwestern University has much more modest offerings to employees, a free parking spot. But you have to earn it like winning a Nobel Peace Prize in chemistry.

Danish scientist Niels Bohr had the most novel perk of all for winning the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize for physics. He received free beer for life. That was from the founder of Carlsberg Brewery, who gifted him a house with a direct pipeline with beer on tap. A free gym membership is no match for that.

For the rest of us non-Nobel winning employees, let’s enjoy our espresso and occasional doughnut with sincere appreciation and no complaints.

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at

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