Is North Texas the new 'Silicon Valley' when it comes to workplace perks?

Inside work perks

Rebecca Lovell has always dreamed of graduating college, but it didn't always seem likely for the single mother of two.

"I had to work and think about what's best for my family's life," Lovell said.

But now Lovell doesn't have to choose. She is a claim specialist at State Farm in Richardson and she also attends school in the same building.

"Oh my gosh the convenience is life-changing," Lovell said.

Last year State Farm started a new program where it partnered with community colleges and universities in North Texas to bring classes to the work place. Lori Manning is State Farm's HR Director who helped pilot the program.

"Well we surveyed our employees to see what they need and want to feel supported or fulfilled and the number one response was education," Manning said.

State Farm has offered tuition reimbursement for sometime but Manning says bringing the classes to the work place and paying for them upfront makes the whole process as easy as possible for employees. 

"I haven't seen this done anywhere else and our team is responding in a big way," Manning said. 

While the new program is making workers happy, Manning says it's also good business. 

"Look it's competitive and we have to compete for the best talent and once we get that talent we want to keep it," Manning said. 

Manning says studies show businesses that "invest" in workers actually save money in the long run by cutting down on turnover and pulling in skilled and dedicated workers. 

Creative or over the top perks like free college classes at the workplace are becoming more common across the Dallas area according the Audrey Villegas who runs a job recruiting company in Richardson. 

"I'd say Dallas is becoming the new Silicon Valley when it comes to this stuff," Villegas said. 

Villegas works with companies across DFW to court prospective employees and talent. She says in the last two years she's seen an upswing in crazy perks offered by companies. 

"I had one client who moved a family here and paid for their rent for a year just to get them to take the job. It's crazy I know," Villegas said. 

Villegas says the trend started as more and more companies started moving headquarters and hubs to the Dallas area, suddenly employers had to compete in big ways for the best talent. 

"It's really all about convenience and getting ahead of the market," Villegas said. 

Other perks include daily catered lunches, free cars, toll tags, gas and dry cleaning on site. Other companies are building "live, work, play" campuses where apartments, shops and restaurants are all within a block of the workplace. 

One of the craziest perks Villegas has seen is a company that will find and pay for dog walkers for employees' pets. 

"For a lot of people pets are like their kids and that's a huge deal, Villegas said. 

Back at State Farm Rebecca says the "investing" strategy is working. While the program only offers a few classes for free at work she says it's inspired her to sign up for more classes at a local university next semester. 

"It's just amazing. If more companies did this I think we'd see a return to 30 years ago when people stayed at one company all their careers," Lovell said. "The more the put into us the more we put back into them."

State Farm says the program has been such a success it is expanding it to other cities starting this year.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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