Human Capital & Careers

The Workplace

Perk Up.
Joan UrdangJuly 1, 2001

Slowdown or no, CFOs may have to factor Starbucks coffee bars into their next budget if they hope to attract and retain experienced IT professionals. Office amenities–including everything from on-site day- care centers to a concierge who picks up dry cleaning for employees working late–will become important this year, says D. Jeffrey Waters, senior managing director at the New York office of real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis Inc. According to the Information Technology Association of America, by year’s end, U.S. companies will face a shortage of 425,000 IT workers, in spite of the economic downturn. The rub: IT pros have the leverage to demand workplace perks. And as long as the extras are in demand, and don’t eat up space needed for the core business, Waters doesn’t think they’ll disappear.

While some executives view workplace amenities as extravagant, Jim Eckert, director of corporate real estate and facilities management at Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning, sees them as a way to boost productivity. For example, workers there can use an on-site medical center, which, for minor complaints, might make a time-consuming trip to their own doctor unnecessary. Furthermore, walking trails that surround Owens Corning’s urban campus provide a place for employees to meet and exchange ideas.

What’s the value of amenities? The first-year cost of a coffee bar is $50,000. It costs about $150,000 to replace one employee whose total compensation package is $100,000 annually, asserts Jac Fitz-enz, founder of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Saratoga Institute. — Joan Urdang