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Posted: Jul. 8, 2018 7:29 AM
Updated: Jul. 8, 2018 7:31 AM

Summer Fridays are nothing new.

And in a tight job market where employers are struggling to find workers, companies are getting more creative with the seasonal perks they offer in order to stand out from their competitors.

Around 72% of companies that increased benefits cited worker retention as the reason, while 58% wanted to attract new talent, according to the 2018 employee benefits survey from the Society for Human Resource Management.

"Every single person we make an offer to has another offer," said Michelle Wagner, senior vice president of people operations at Evernote.

"People really care about how and where they work — that matters to them. That puts more pressure on us to hire well and create an environment where they can thrive. Every one of our employees gets an email from another recruiter on a regular basis."

In addition to unlimited paid time off, the note-taking app company also offers eligible employees $1,000 a year vacation bonus. And they're not the only ones offering special benefits during the warmer months.

Bonuses and gifts

Accounting firm KPMG recently gave all of its employees $500 to use on an online portal to purchase from a variety of gift options, including an American Express gift card.

Within two days of giving out the reward, 15,000 had redeemed it for the gift card.

The company also has a history of giving out an annual family-oriented gift to all employees. This year's gift was a barbecue package. They gave out an ice cream bundle last year.

"It is always something they can share with friends and family," said Margaret Teegan, managing director in human resources at KPMG.

The company spends around $30 million to provide the gifts and $500 bonus, Teegan said.

Paid for vacations

Companies are increasingly pushing their employees to take some time away from the office, or even funding their vacations.

Software company Moz reimburses workers for vacations up to $3,000 a year.

Employees have a lot of leeway on how they can use the money. It can be spent on hotel stays, airfare, or experiences like skydiving. One employee just got back from a cruise to Alaska.

To get the funds, workers have to submit pictures of their trip after they've taken it.

The only rules are employees have to leave the company's home base of Seattle and spend at least a night away.

"It's all about work-life balance," said Susan Sestak, human resources generalist at Moz. "We want to make sure you have the time to rest and rewind."

At Evernote, employees have to be out of the office for five consecutive days in order to get the $1,000 vacation stipend.

"Nobody recharges over a two-day weekend," said Wagner. "When you are gone for more than a couple of days, you can actually let your wheels slow down and that is when you start to recharge."

Workers don't have to actually go somewhere to get the benefit. "They just can't be in the office. They can hide out in their own house and binge watch Breaking Bad."

More than 90% of Evernote's roughly 370 employees claimed the stipend last year, and the average annual vacation time is over three weeks.

Employee summer camp

Employees at WeWork can relive their childhood memories of summer camp.

The coworking space company hosts an all-inclusive summer weekend getaway to allow employees to interact outside of a formal setting. This summer's event will be held in the UK, and the company pays for employees to fly out and attend.

Some of the activities employees can participate in include company programming, workshops, hiking, swimming and archery and musical entertainment, according to WeWork.

Last year, the company had 5,000 attendees. They stayed in more than 1,000 tents with 28 musical performances and participated in a soccer tournament.

Party time and family outings

Getting people bonding out of the office is good for morale and trust building.

Consumer electronics company Vizio will host an 80s-themed outdoor picnic this summer for its full-time workers and their families at the beach.

Activities will include kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and other kid-friendly events.

Technology accessory company ZAGG started the summer with an employee outing to a minor-league baseball game.

Full-time, hourly, and temporary employees that work out of the company's headquarters in Salt Lake City and their families were eligible for the event and 445 people attended.

Employees and their family members got a t-shirt, backpack and food at the ball game.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that nearly 75% of companies increased benefits to retain workers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. About a third of all companies have increased their benefits, with 72% of those citing worker retention as the reason.

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