Urban myth has it that a company cannot compete in today’s digital workplace unless it offers free food, a recreation center and flexible work practices. Is the myth true?

A survey of selected amenities conducted among digital media companies participating in the 2013 Croner Digital Content and Technology Survey returned clear results on this subject.  The “independent companies”, which are typically started as pure digital ventures, lead the “parent-owned” companies, typically established prior to the digital era, in providing a variety of amenities to employees.

Independent companies make the workplace more enticing by offering plentiful free food, workplace enhancements, recreational facilities and flexibility.  Parent owned companies offer fewer on-site amenities but subsidize offsite gym memberships and offer workplace flexibility scheduling on par with independent companies.

The comprehensive list of leading digital media companies that participate in the Croner Digital Content and Technology Survey span ecommerce retail; media online; publishing; ecommerce transactions; digital advertising services; web publishing, search/social networks; online mobile gaming; and business products/services.

Amenities in Detail 

Food and Food Service

About two-thirds of companies participating in the survey provide meals and food to employees. Independent digital media companies are leaders in this area. Most offer meals and food, while only about half of parent owned companies offer meals and food. 

Chef Service / Kitchen
Only about 10% of independent digital media companies provide chef or on-site kitchen service; but where provided, the majority are fully subsidized.  While over one third of parent owned companies provide on-site kitchen services, they tend to only partially subsidize this amenity.

Stocked Pantries
The majority of independent digital media companies provide fully subsidized stocked pantries where food is available on demand throughout the day.  Less than 20% of parent owned companies provide this service and only a third of those are fully subsidized.

Companies on the West Coast are three times as likely as East Coast companies to provide the various food benefits, with the exception of on-site kitchen services.  Companies on the East Coast are equally as likely to provide on-site kitchen services.  Pantries, special meals and periodic meals are provided far more frequently by digital media companies in the West.

Workplace Enhancements, i.e., fun and games

Most companies offer an on-site gym or gym membership. However, independent companies are less generous with subsidized on-site or health club memberships.  Only about 20% provide fully subsidized health club memberships with most partially subsidizing membership costs.   More than a third of the parent owned companies provide fully subsidized gym benefits.

Nearly two-thirds of independent companies and one third of parent owned companies provide recreational facilities such as basketball courts, foosball, billiard and ping pong tables, and arcade and console games. 

Almost half of independent digital media companies provide appealing architecture and work environments; less than 25% of parent owned companies provide this feature.

Transportation

Only ten percent of all companies offer private bus/shuttle service.  All independent digital media companies which offer transportation provide fully subsidized bus or shuttle services; nearly three-quarters of parent owned companies which provide transportation do as well.  The private bus/shuttle service is far more prevalent in the West.

Flexible Work Practices

Parent owned and independent digital media companies have similar approaches to flexible work options such as flexible scheduling and telecommuting.  Most companies allow for these options to be approved at the Manager level on a case-by-case basis, rather than a formal corporate policy.

Commute Reimbursement

About one third of independent digital media companies offer commute reimbursement and most fully subsidize this benefit, including public transit, parking, and incentives for carpooling.  About 20% of parent owned digital media companies offer commute reimbursement with most only partially subsidizing commuting costs.

Additional Amenities

The list of additional amenities offered is varied.  Examples include: childcare / adult care; cell phone reimbursement; discounted company products; home Wi-Fi and Internet subsidy; on-site chair massage; tuition reimbursement.  Home housecleaning, however, does not make the list.

In summary, the trends are quite clear.

·         Independent, particularly “native” digital media companies, i.e., companies that started as pure digital media ventures, lead in providing amenities to their employees.  Many of the amenities are fully subsidized by independent companies and only partially so by parent owned companies.

·         There is a western spin to the frequency and depth of amenities.

·         Parent owned companies offer fewer fully subsidized amenities across the board with the exception of flexible scheduling.

·    And while no, you may not need an on-site restaurant to be competitive for digital talent, it is time to stock up your pantry with snacks. 

To discuss how your company can expand your notion of compensation to be beyond pay, please contact Lisa Dyakovski, Director, Consulting at the Croner Company, at (415) 485-5526 or lisa@croner.biz.