The employee checklist is getting more complicated. It's no longer just working for a paycheck, but having a work-life balance. The option of working from home and free meals are just a couple of perks some employers are offering.
Experts say a growing number of millennials in the workforce are pushing the change, mixed with more seasoned workers looking for workplace incentives.
Two companies in Westchester County, N.Y., — Lockard & Wechsler Direct and Mindspark — are prime examples of this: Employees are treated to massages and games, get generous personal time, and feel the camaraderie that comes with a relaxed work environment. All benefits that appeal to millennial workers.
"They want more flexibility and versatility," says Evelyn Fiskaa, director of career development at Dominican College in Orangeburg, N.Y. She says millennials don't mind working at home or the overlap between work and their personal life.
By 2025, 75% of the American workforce will be millennial workers and employers will have to adapt to the market, she says.
"I think that employers are going to have to make the changes to attract talent and to keep people, because these millennials are going to be our leaders, managers and entrepreneurs."
Jena Pellegrino, 26, found the perfect j
ob right out of college, but she didn't know it at the time.
Pellegrino, who lives in Old Tappan, N.J., worked for three years as a media assistant for Lockard & Wechsler (LWD) in Irvington, a direct marketing agency for such "As Seen on TV" products as Snuggie and 360 Spin Mop. Then she left to see what else was out there.
"It was a lifestyle change," she says. "It was something I had to try."
What she found: The perks she enjoyed at her former employer weren't standard at her new job. She missed working in a smaller company with access to senior co-workers, generous personal time and a teamwork philosophy.
After nine months, she decided to take a chance and called her boss to ask for her old job back. After some negotiations, she was back.
"I felt I wanted to be in a company that treats you like family," she says.
Colorful open space
Mindspark has a modern, 40,000-square-foot space with gleaming white and primary color furniture that makes it look like something out of a Jetsons cartoon. With big windows and low partitions between work spaces, there's plenty of sharing with colleagues and that's the idea, a collaborative environment with no walls.
"The putting green and ping pong table are there for anyone who needs to relax a bit," says Julie-Anne Selvey, head of special projects. "The benefits are we keep our employees happy."
For LDW, a converted warehouse space in Irvington's Bridge Street complex has an industrial but warm feel, with lots of wood and open work spaces. Employees have access to pool and ping pong except on Wednesdays, when a masseuse comes in to give free massages to employees.
CEO Dick Wechsler says the comfortable work environment and philosophy is what keeps people at his company, but clearly its policies are an incentive.
You don't need to use personal time for doctor appointments and can work from home when needed. New mothers get three months maternity leave with six weeks paid, plus the option of working one to two days at home until the child is 5.
At Mindspark , a casual attire workplace, there's free breakfast for employees and open snack shelves for everyone. Team building activities such as happy hour events, ice cream socials and summer picnics are a part of the work experience.
"We take time to relax for a minute and and enjoy." Selvey says. "Thanksgiving dinner is a highlight, we take time to celebrate the wins."
Bring your dog
You might even see a dog stroll in on monthly bring-your-dog-to-work day. Other perks include longer maternity leaves, tuition incentives and subsidized fitness memberships.
"Private companies are privileged. If you create a business where people share in it — you will do well," says Wechsler.
LDW says it has a 95% employee retention rate, and has seen its staff grow from 10 to 85 in 20 years.
"When you give people authority and responsibility they stay and are invested," Wechsler says.
Case in point: Asieya Pine was hired 15 years ago as Wechsler's assistant; now she's president. She says these progressive policies are in line with keeping good employees.
"As we were building up our business we wanted to create a positive corporate culture," she says.
They celebrate birthdays and other personal milestones like engagements and weddings.
"These are the little things that make people know we recognize what's happening in their lives, and they're appreciated not just professionally but personally," says Pine.
At Mindspark in Yonkers, N.Y., a similar mentality of employees first seems to keep workers longer.
"This company started in 1999, and we still have a sizable number of people that have stayed here, which is especially unusual for a tech company," says Selvey.
Mindspark started as a gaming business in Irvington and is now a division of Internet technology company InterActiveCorp, the parent company for Match.com and Vimeo.com products. Mindspark outgrew its space in 2013 and moved to a new location across from the Yonkers train station.
For businesses willing to put in the money and effort for these extras, it might be worth it.
For millennial employees like Pellegrino, she's happy to have found a place that respected and valued her work enough to invite her back.
"You work every day and sometimes spend more time with your co-workers than family, so you want to be noticed and respected for what you do," she says.