We’ve all heard about the perks: legendary cereal bars available 24/7, office foosball championships, bring-your-dog-to-work day, borrow-a-dog-for-the-day day, free massage, free massage for the dog that you borrowed. . . Are these offerings only the stuff of Silicon Valley? The utopian vision of Redmond, Washington? Was it all a dotcom dream? Turns out, nope, lots of local businesses go out of their way to keep their employees happy for one simple reason: It just makes sense.
Treats for techies
Take, for example, IDX Broker, a technology firm nationally known as a leading provider of real estate search applications, located in downtown Eugene.
“Every day at IDX we strive to be better than we were the day before,” says IDX’s Celeste Marshall. “We aren’t all work and no play. Not by any means. To keep team morale high, we offer catered meals each week, video games in the employee lounge, and company-issued Nerf guns for the most epic office battles in the great state of Oregon,” Marshall says.
IDX recently renovated the former Oak Street Speakeasy into a 3,800 square-foot modern employee lounge. “Our employees use this space to chill out, grab a snack, work remotely, and collaborate with other employees,” says Marshall.
Marshall notes that the new space has an added community benefit: “We regularly host events for the tech industry and other partners in the area—Technology Association of Oregon, McKenzie River Trust, Eugene Web Developers Meetup—in addition to game nights and sports watching events hosted by our own employees.”
IDX currently has 54 employees, with plans for continued growth this year. Says Marshall, “We appreciate our employees, and we’re proud of creating a workplace that enriches their lives. We also know their happiness translates into a great customer experience.” – RC
All in the family
As a family-owned business, it’s not hard to believe that the owners of Strapworks— a company that creates straps, webbing, tie-downs, buckles, and a variety of other hardware—want their employees and employees’ families to be taken care of.
“I have been with the company for almost three years now and one of the things I love most about Strapworks is the fact that they really care about their employees and their employees’ families,” says Samantha Burton, Customer Service Manager for Strapworks. “We are a family-owned company and the Fosters really work to make each and every employee feel like a part of that family.” This includes listening to employee suggestions and comments. “As an employee, I value that my opinion and ideas matter.”
Strapworks also has some unique tangible perks, including an arcade and an onsite gym (with showers and a hot tub) that employees can use to de-stress and have fun. To top it all off, they throw several parties each year including their employee picnic, which has everything from face painting to snow cones. Thoughtful perks to match a friendly company. – ME
Over in the Whiteaker, Ninkasi Brewing shares a similar vibe: “Ninkasi is a great community of employees that all strive to perpetuate better living through good beer and a happy lifestyle,” says Ninkasi’s People Operations Specialist, Amanda Burchard.
“We have many benefits available to keep our employees happy and healthy, like free beer and merchandise, great benefits, profit sharing, a wellness program, an amazing office space, and paid work time to volunteer in the community.
Adds Kenny Weigandt, Marketing Programs Director, ”The culture here is pretty amazing. If I had to describe it in one word it would be “energetic.” There’s a mix of professionalism, urgency, and excitement. But it all blends with a casual, “celebrate who you are” vibe.
Ninkasi has a rock-climbing wall, a patio bar, and twice-weekly massage therapy, but they also do some great stuff for the community.
“Our Beer is Love program gives beer to nonprofits in super creative ways. Basically, if we think our beer can benefit a nonprofit, we give it away. And Beer is Love gets Ninkasi volunteers out in the community volunteering. Not just in Eugene, but in all of our markets,” Weigandt says. – RC
The IT crowd
Walking into the high-tech, modern office of CBT Nuggets, it’s hard to believe that it all started decades ago in some guy’s garage.
Back in the ’90s, Dan Charbonneau sold IT training videos on Ebay. Today, his company employs 118 people, and has seen tremendous growth and a rise in demand for their online IT training videos for professionals who want to move forward in their career.
With the help of Arbor South, CBT Nuggets was able to design a new work space in the summer of 2015 that allows employees to work efficiently, but that also celebrates and rewards employees for doing a great job.
One of these rewards is the Serenity Room.
This small, unassuming room features a state-of-the-art sleeping pod. That’s right, sleeping pod. Need a nap? Slide into the pod, close the door, and get some shut-eye. Or maybe you just need to relax some muscles. Well, there is a massage chair for that.
In addition, employees have access to a fitness room where they can hop on the treadmill or take one of the many classes the company offers. In case you were wondering, yes, they have shower rooms, too. Oh, and company-issued bikes and hoverboards are also available for employees to use throughout the day.
There are ample ways employees can refuel or unwind in the cafeteria: table tennis, foosball; video games on the huge flat screen; catered lunches; a massive kitchen with an espresso machine, any kind of snack you can think of, their famous banana chocolate chip muffins….
And then there is Tracy Such.
Tracy’s job as an Employee Engagement Coordinator is to pamper the employees. Is it your dream to one day ride in a hot air balloon? She can make that happen. Or maybe you just need coconut milk for your coffee. She can do that, too.
But for all the company does for its employees, CBT Nuggets does tenfold for the community. Shelly Galvin heads up their Corporate Responsibility Program where she finds creative ways to be philanthropic, including giving free training videos to displaced workers. “For me, it’s a dream job,” says Gavin. “I love to be here.”
Speaking of being here, some of CBT Nugget’s employees work remotely, but their office is equipped with the latest technology so all employees can stay in touch. This includes the “Nuggetbots,” which are basically computer screens attached to wheels. Workers (both remote and in-house) control them with their own computer. So say you are working from home but want to talk to someone at the office. You access the computer, and drive the robot through the office until you find the person you need, then you can chat over the computer—or you can just use it to play tricks on your co-workers. That’s OK, too. – AB
Another local business with great employee perks is Mountain Rose Herbs.
“We have a great benefits package including alternative healthcare, paid sick, holiday, and vacation time, a cash-incentivized alternative commute program, and an awesome discount,” says Erin McIntosh, the company’s Marketing Director. “The employee discount allows affordable access to high-quality organic herbs, spices, teas, and other products like virgin coconut oil. Our break rooms are also fully stocked with tea, spices, and tinctures for the entire staff to enjoy. Plus, Mountain Rose Herbs offers each of its employees three full paid days each year to volunteer in the community. This amounts to a total of 24 hours of paid time for each employee annually.”
Through its Free Herbalism Project, the company offers free workshops, classes, and lectures to the local and online communities.
“In addition to the live events, we also produce videos and a podcast to help spread this free education to anyone interested in learning more about using plants for food and medicine,” McIntosh says.
And Mountain Rose has made a commitment to the environment: “Our sustainability efforts are pretty incredible,” McIntosh says. “The highlight is that we’re zero waste and recycle, reclaim, or compost all waste materials produced by the company.” – RC
Following Their Bliss
Since moving into their new building on 1st Avenue in Eugene’s Whiteaker Neighborhood in February 2016, employees of Coconut Bliss have had no trouble finding their “work” bliss. The growing company (nearly 300 percent in five years!) needed more space, an open floor plan, a larger test kitchen, and, in general, more space to get creative and accommodate their growing team.
Their new building, housed in the former Burrito Boy catering facility, meets their needs just perfectly. Employees are surrounded with sunlight, plants, bamboo desks, and beautiful barn doors built by Makers 7. “I feel more efficient,” says General Manager Kim Gibson Clark who emphasized that with the move she “wanted the warmth.” Both PIVOT Architecture and Chambers Construction helped Gibson achieve her goal.
It’s no surprise then that their serene office space utilizes calming teals, earth tones, and natural materials. A source of pride for the company is that they have just been RE:think certified by BRING Recycling and are going for their LEED certification.
When employees need to unwind or take a break in their day, they can retreat to the Bliss Lounge. This centrally located room has yoga mats and props, stretching ball, and foot massager. Employees can use this room for yoga and meditation and quiet working time when they need a change of scenery. Marketing Communications Manager Elizabeth Reilly uses the room a few times a week at 3 pm just to lie down. “It’s a great reset button,” she says.
Another perk for Coconut Bliss employees—besides access to all their wonderful dairy-free ice cream pints and bars—are catered lunches offered Monday through Thursday by
Private Chef Alyson Wade has been with Coconut Bliss for the past seven months: “It’s the best kitchen I’ve ever worked in,” she says. Alyson structures her menu based on seasonal availability and what she can get at the farmers market. All menu items are certified organic, and vegan/vegetarian, and can include dishes like wild mushroom risotto with a side salad featuring fig dressing. Having a healthy lunch offered four days a week “helps maintain efficiency and gives us an opportunity to reconnect as a team over a nourishing meal,” says Reilly. And based on the popularity of the lunch program, employees (and their bellies) are happy with the chef’s offerings.
“It’s changed the way people feel about their job and their role,” says Clark of their move to the new office. The new building is specially tailored to meet the needs of its employees, including state-of-the-art sit/stand desks with cushy foot pads.
Currently, Coconut Bliss has 18 employees—all bringing their own talents and skill sets to share with the entire company. Tom Johnston, Production Coordinator, came to Coconut Bliss from a high-stress job at Hewlett-Packard: “It’s happy people,” he says of his Coconut Bliss co-workers. “You want to come to work.”
Seeds for success
Another corporation with a conscience is Organically Grown Company, with 57 employees in Eugene, as well as more staff in Portland, DesMoines, and Spokane.
“We work with purpose, with a shared camaraderie, and the pride of making a living by bringing healthy, clean, and tasty food to the people,” says Organically Grown’s Marketing Communications Specialist, Tonya Quinn Haworth.
Organically Grown specializes in fruit and veggie agriculture distribution. Company employees share in its equity and ownership.
“It is important for us to be engaged not only with our staff, customers, and vendors, but with the communities we help to feed. You can have a prosperous company in many ways, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an engaged company,” notes Haworth. “By being employee- and grower-owned, we all have a voice in how our profits are spent and that empowerment leads to healthy engagement.”
Organically Grown currently has 283 staff members working out of four regional facilities.
Adds Haworth: “We are fortunate to distribute the best organic produce available, but that health has to extend beyond the daily job of moving boxes; our staff has to have a healthy work/life balance, feel fulfilled in their role, and be heard and valued in order to build long-term careers. People, not profits, make companies successful.”
To this, Organically Grown rallies its troops every summer (as it has for the past 30 years) for a company Tomato War. Two teams battle, using what would be otherwise unused tomatoes headed for the compost. Employees and their families are invited to the Eugene event where they can pummel one another, all in the name of “group therapy.” – RC
Shiny happy people
Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, has been working with the company since 2003. In 2007 she stepped into her role as CEO, and since then has focused on improving the work/home-life balance of her employees.
Employees of the company (which specializes in small business software tools) are offered a subsidized gym membership through the Downtown Athletic Club. If they are feeling stressed, sluggish, or just want a good workout, employees can jet across the street to utilize the gym’s equipment, classes, or pool.
Food is another key to keeping employees feeling good. Rather than buying typical junk food often found in break rooms, Parsons purchases fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market and offers a variety of healthy snacks, including gluten-free options for those who want it.
“We also have a Live Well Committee, where employees from each department get a budget and are able to plan fun things based on what they want to do,” says Parsons. “It’s much better than having a group of executives choosing what everyone wants to do. It allows our employees to decide, and empowers them to speak up.” Events in the past have included movie nights, hikes, and baseball games.
Additionally, Sabrina has taken steps to provide a kid-friendly work environment. If employees can’t find a babysitter, have last minute changes to their schedules, or are concerned about where their kids can go for the day, Palo Alto is an option. As long as they’re supervised, employees’ children are welcome to come in and do things like work on homework, color, or read a book. Parsons believes that you can’t have success and efficiency simultaneously if people are worried about their family. “The family-friendly aspect is really important to me because I have three kids. As a woman, I don’t want to compromise being a mother and a businesswoman. You shouldn’t have to choose between the two,” she says. – ME
1550 Valley River Dr.
725 W 1st Ave.
100 E Broadway
Mountain Rose Herbs
4020 Stewart Rd.
272 Van Buren St.
Organically Grown Company
1800B Prairie Rd.
Palo Alto Software
44 W Broadway, Ste. 500
3900 W 1st Ave.