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Soft work benefits

I was pondering my current job and where I am and what I want career-wise and I came across the recent "how much do you work" thread. I thought a bit more about my job and about my employer and why changing jobs is not easy for many reasons - the economy (this job was one of of only three replies and the only job offer I received when I was applying for jobs after uni), my work experience in a very narrow field, my location etc..

Our pay is below average, the 42 hours (excluding breaks so 44.5 office hours) working time is also at the top end of a regular office job (I don't work in an industry with crunch time or work that extends home), our paid annual leave is the lowest possible (and again, below average) in my country... however, I am mostly fine with my job because of the soft work benefits:

  • My direct boss is great. She is a fantastic mentor and I have learnt a lot from her. She kicks professional ass and I feel good and secure in knowing she has my back and trusts my work. I also genuinely like and respect her as a person. I don't think I would thrive as much under the other team leaders as I currently do under her.
  • We are actually encouraged to take our paid leave and my team boss has been particularly accomodating when planning something special and long-haul ("DO IT! YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE! ENJOY YOURSELVES!"). For example, we are supposed to take our PTO within the calendar year but she is also fine with rolling saved up days into an extended Dec/Jan holiday. My BFF went to Argentina/South America for a month during her honeymoon and they went for a month over Christmas. She lumped most of her 2013 and some of her 2014 leave together and voilà!
  • I (generally) have nice colleagues and a small group of work friends - I am not equally close to all of them but we are a nice group of 4/5 who occasionally meets up for food outside of work. I also have my two work besties who I also go to the cinema with and I am very sad that one of them is going on maternity leave for a few months at the end of November. I will miss her.
  • We use Skype as office communication so I can also chat with my friends who sit in different offices and don't feel so lonely when I don't feel like talking to my office mates (who are totally the opposite of me but okay most of the time).
  • We have a decent kitchen at work - you have to bring your own food but we have ample fridge space (which is no easy feat with ca. 70 people working at our location) and a kitchen that includes microwaves.
  • We also have free drinks - water, coffee, tea and various soft drinks as much as you want. Also, our office has been very accomodating and has not only got regular and low-fat but also soy and lactose-free milk. We have some mix beers around for our social Fridays (once every few months) but it's actually fine to have one if you are still working after six PM (our CEO actually sent out an email regarding this). I usually try to leave work much earlier than that but it is nice to have the option.
  • We have somewhat flexible hours - we need to be present at core office hours but are allowed to start anytime from 7AM to 9AM. Which means that conversely, we can leave anytime after 4:30 as long as we get our weekly hours in. It's good to be able to work a long day if you need to go to an afternoon appointment during the next and I am glad that I don't have to stay glued to my desk "because everybody is doing it" and other kinds of bullshit. If I am required to stay beyond my required hours for a project that needs finishing (on a Friday..) I don't get paid overtime but can leave earlier on another work day.
  • Conversely, when I am home, I am home. No company mails or phone, no emergency calls to come in and finish stuff, no extra billable hours or whatever - obviously this has to do with my job and not just the company but most of the time I can leave the work stress behind until the next work day. My job can be frustrating but at least I don't get ulcers or anxiety over it (as a co-worker did with his previous job, for example).
  • I can bike to work. My office subsidizes public transport passes but they are still hideously expensive and only worth it if you rely on public transport a lot. Also, my work is quite conveniently located if I forgot to bring lunch and want to grab a quick bite.

Other soft benefits include maternal and paternal leave (which is mandatory in my country so it's not exactly due to the amazingness of our company but it is still a benefit) and the fact that my boyfriend actually works at the same place and we can bike to work together and share lunches. This post was not meant to be a brag! There are many things that annoy me about my job and I would love to get paid more adequately. For the most time however, I feel rather content.

GT, what are your soft work benefits? Do they keep you at your job? Is there anything you would wish for in particular?

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