· Features

Fantasy employee benefits - Dreams can come true

HR magazine asked a selection of HR professionals to name their fantasy benefit for staff. Surprisingly, some are achievable. What's more, not all involve oodles of cash.

ANN PICKERING, HR director, Telefonica O2 UK

Your dream benefit? "A solution that took flexible working to the next level - perhaps some kind of advanced mobile phone that enabled people to transport themselves between home and work at the click of a button."

Can it be found? In the realms of Star Trek, yes. In the real world, we're still waiting for our personal transporter room.

What was the last addition to your perks package of which you are most proud?

"A 'staycation' promotion - a bespoke online summer discount store that enables O2 employees to make the most of the summer by purchasing a range of discounted products and services, from hotels and holidays to cheap theme park and theatre tickets. The store was launched at the beginning of August and, in the first two weeks alone, more than 7,000 of our employees logged onto the site."


Your dream benefit? "A Necker-type island that we could use to create fantastic experiences for all our staff."

Can it be found? You bet. Richard Branson's 74-acre hideaway, Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, can be booked exclusively for up to 28 people or during specially selected 'Celebration Weeks', when individual rooms are available for short stays. Prices for 2010 start at US $1,893 per person per night, exclusive of flights and a small service charge. For more information: visit www.virginlimitededition.com.

What was the last addition to your perks package of which you are most proud?

"An experience fund that allocates £1,000 every month for any member of staff to do something they've never done before. For example, one of our most chatty employees went to an Indian retreat where they couldn't speak for a week."

CLAUDIA TERRY, head of compensation and benefits EMEA, Symantec

Your dream benefit? "A concierge service (see p48). My laundry would be done, the boiler could be fixed with minimum effort on my part and my house could be cleaned."

Can it be found? Certainly. Cushion The Impact (www.cushiontheimpact.co.uk) has packages covering everything from laundry services and grocery shopping to queuing for visas, sourcing chefs, nannies, cleaners and plumbers. Prices start at £300 per head per annum excluding third-party costs. The firm also offers gift vouchers. Wizz2U Solutions (www.wizz2u.com) provides on-site corporate concierge services with prices for a fully comprehensive package for 1,000 staff starting in the region of £45,000 + VAT per annum.

What was the last addition to your perks package of which you are most proud?

"Our 'Applause' programme introduced in July 2008. Prior to that, only 5%-10% of our population received formal recognition. Now, an average of 700 awards are given out weekly all over the globe, across different functions and levels."

JULIE MACDONALD, HR director, Pizza Express

Your dream benefit? "To take all of our 9,500 people to Italy for a weekend to learn to see and sample the fantastic produce Italy has to offer."

Can it be found? Mama mia, you might have to dig deep. Tastes of Italy (www.tastesofitaly.co.uk) estimates that flights, accommodation, business facilities and a few extras, including visits to local pasta and tomato producers for 9,500 staff would come to a cool £15 million. We challenged P&MM (www.p-mm.co.uk) to see what it could do. It said it would brand the whole event 'Challenge Pizza - Size Matters!' with an attempt to break the record for the world's largest pizza in a local football stadium. For around £3,000 per head, a three-day extravaganza could include trips to Capri and Vesuvius and a pizza and party with fireworks.

What was the last addition to your perks package of which you are most proud?

"An on-brand employee opinion survey from Talent Toolbox. People not only had their say but also, if they completed it, they got to see two of our senior executives playing air guitar and to vote who was the best."