Therapy, 'pawternity' leave and unlimited holidays: The unusual staff perks offered by Scots firms

Fancy working for an employer providing, say, unlimited holidays, free in-house therapy or offsetting your carbon footprint?

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 5:08 pm
Taking unlimited holiday is offered by Scottish firms including Ingentium. Picture: AFP via Getty Images.
Taking unlimited holiday is offered by Scottish firms including Ingentium. Picture: AFP via Getty Images.

These are just a few of the unusual perks being offered by Scottish employers, amid a new survey from SavoyStewart.co.uk of more than 1,800 working Brits on how they feel about taking up certain workplace perks.

Noting benefits such as paid leave for moving house, egg freezing for women and hangover days, the survey found the perk people said would cause them the least guilt was a day off for your birthday. At the other end of the scale, nearly six in ten said they would feel guilty about taking unlimited holidays.

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But unlimited holiday is something offered at Edinburgh-based commercial intellectual property and intelligence consultancy Ingentium, whose founder and boss Josef Geoola said getting the firm’s HR solicitor to grasp the concept “was the most challenging part of this policy”.

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What’s more, the firm works a four-day week, as does Leith-based communications agency Wonderhouse. Director Rachael Grieve said having a good work-life balance was built into the firm from the outset.

“We have a strong, dedicated team and we introduced four-day weeks, with no reduction in full time salaries, as our way of thanking them,” she said. “The agency continues to thrive from their commitment and ownership of the work, while the employees have the space and time to pursue the things that make them happy outside of work.”

Also offering a four-day week on full pay is Edinburgh-based tech firm Administrate, which also counts a licensed therapist and a professional coach among its team, whose services are offered for free.

Turning to Ellon-based beer giant BrewDog, the firm has said it wanted to be the best company to work for in the UK by this year, and recently announced that it was the first employer in the world to ensure all of its staff are carbon negative.

Chief operating officer David McDowell told The Scotsman that its employee benefits go against the status quo. “Most recently, following BrewDog announcing its carbon negative status, we encouraged our team across the business to undertake ‘paw print’ analysis, to give us an idea of their carbon footprint – which we then double offset. We offer them tips on becoming more carbon conscious, and additional perks if they follow the advice.

“Prior to this we launched our Pawternity leave scheme, in 2017, giving our employees time off when they get a new dog. We’ve had a huge uptake in this across the business.”

BrewDog has also teamed up with period poverty-focused Hey Girls to offer the latter’s sanitary products across its UK sites. Hey Girls told The Scotsman that some 30 firms north of the Border offer its free sanitary products to their staff, and the organisation is talking to some that want to send packs to homeworkers.

All such perks are no doubt appreciated by recipients. But John Denholm, executive chairman of Denholm Associates, said candidates have told the recruiter that it is the core aspects of the job that are crucial.

“It feels like perks – at least the gimmicky ones – are less important than being respected, treated like adults with autonomy and flexibility, and feeling that their employers value their health and welfare much more than in the past,” he said.

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