America at work
Big Companies, Even Bigger Perks: Everything You Love About Startup Culture—Minus the Startup Part
Free Enterprise Staff | June 20, 2014

Close your eyes and think about your current job. Now ask yourself what you like about it and what you wish you could change. Do you, like many young business professionals, long for catered lunches, unlimited PTO, and in-office Ping-Pong tournaments—the stereotypical hallmarks of startup culture? What about great training and a supportive work environment?

Well, we’re happy to report that those kinds of perks aren’t merely relegated to the startup world. Many large companies with thousands of employees, it turns out, are just as concerned about the well being and happiness of their employees—and we don’t just mean Google, either.

Still need convincing? We’ve assembled a list of established businesses that are giving startups a run for their money when it comes to culture as well as employee perks and benefits. Though they may lack the exotic, zeitgeisty quality of that hot startup that’s always in the news, these battle-tested companies have global brand recognition and proven business models.

You win some and, in this case, you win some more.

5 Large Companies with Unique, Innovative Cultures

Salesforce: Salesforce recently turned 15 years old. But you wouldn’t know that if you visited their San Francisco headquarters today. The company, which is a leader in customer relationship management (CRM) software, has grown from a small IT firm into a publicly traded company with more than 10,000 employees worldwide. Salesforce prides itself on its entrepreneurial employees, all of whom are allotted—on top of other benefits—six paid days off per year to devote to volunteering in their local communities. Salesforce also matches its workers’ charitable donations up to $5,000 each year and offers education reimbursement, among other enticing benefits.

Facebook: If you still think of the world’s most popular social network as a startup, you’re living in the past. Now 10 years old, the company is a firmly established technology giant with a market cap of more than $160 billion. Yet Facebook’s more than 6,300 employees are still enjoying life thanks to head honcho Mark Zuckerberg. Aside from free meals and snack-filled kitchens, workers are given up to $80 per month to help pay for their laundry and dry cleaning bills, and new parents receive $4,000 in “baby cash.” What’s more, Facebook still works to maintain the culture that helped it catapult to success. Employees are actively encouraged by management to be bold, to take risks, and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

The Container Store: You probably already love the Container Store and its seemingly endless supply of space-saving containers and efficiency-boosting products. But did you know that since it was founded in 1978, the Texas-based company has devoted ample resources and time toward preserving its employee-first culture? The Container Store often boasts about how many of its workers spend their entire careers at the corporation, which offers extensive training programs, on-site subsidized cafes, chair massages, and dry cleaning services.

REI: The Washington-based sports and apparel retailer hasn’t changed much since it was founded 75 years ago—except, of course, that it’s grown into a multi-billion dollar company with 132 stores. The member-owned REI offers extensive training programs for its workers and strives to create a collaborative, playful, and approachable business environment. Workers also enjoy great benefits like retirement and profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, and—after they’ve worked long enough—a four-week-long sabbatical.

Marriott: Marriott has grown over its 80-year history into one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, with more than 4,000 properties and 335,000 employees. People love working at Marriott for a lot of reasons, including the fact that they’re able to progress within the business’s customer-focused culture. According to the company, more than half of all managers started as hourly associates. Marriott, which Fortune Magazine recently ranked as one of 2014’s best companies to work for, also goes out of its way to recognize and reward its high-performing employees with special discounts and gifts.