Keeping the staff serious about work and on-task is highly important to any boss looking out for their business. But the well-being of the employees is necessary too in order to keep them satisfied with their choice to work for a particular company.

A few perks here and there will add a little fun to the workplace and employees will appreciate the thought that goes into offering them. These 5 cool company perks will liven up the atmosphere and keep workplace satisfaction in check, thus increasing overall productivity. Try one or all of these at your company and the feedback and results are sure to be positive!

Half-Day Summer Fridays

You may be thinking, "How will all the work get done if I let the staff out early?" Well, it will, and the staff will be happy to get it done in time. Think about it. During summertime, no one can wait for the weekend to come to get to the beach, picnic in the park, or soak up the sun poolside. The summer itch, so to speak, creeps up as the week heads to its end, and employees can get restless. Minds wander, goofing off becomes a little more prevalent, and dreams of fun in the sun replace flowcharts and spreadsheets. If an employer presents the perk of ½ day summer Fridays, if, and only if, the week's work is sufficiently complete, you'll marvel at the output the staff can put out.

Some staff members may even agree to put in a little more time during the other days of the week to reap the rewards of the ½ day summer Friday. According to Entrepreneur, "Eighty-seven percent of those who had summer hours said this benefit contributed to a healthy work/life balance and 76 percent agreed summer Friday policies were an effective tool to boost productivity. Putting in a couple of extra hours from Monday through Thursday in exchange for a short day on Friday, or taking Fridays off completely, seems like a fair trade off."

So "let the dogs out" and summertime will become even more enjoyable, both in and out of the office. As a matter of fact, as per Justworks, "Overworked employees sleep less, drink more, and cost companies more for healthcare." So a little time off is money saved by the company.

Education Reimbursement

Any wise employer seeks out a knowledgeable staff, but any smarty can benefit from even more education. But as well all know, going back to school for another degree or even taking a few classes on weekends or evenings can be costly. Offer your employees who are serious about furthering their education a priceless perk. Pay the tuition or match their cost and split the bill.

While at first this may seem out of budget, the benefits long term will pay for it all, both for the employee and the company as a whole. The employee will become better at what they do by learning the latest and greatest in their field and by expanding their knowledge in general.

As Officevibe notes, "A more educated workforce means a more productive workforce. If employees know they don't have to worry about the cost of those programs and that your company encourages them to develop their skills, they'll be happier at work." Additionally, the employee will feel a sense of loyalty to the company, as Andrew Jensen, Efficiency, Growth & Marketing points out. With a worker that's bound to stick around, the company will save money in the HR department thanks to time saved from recruiting and interviewing which could take months. Jensen notes, "In many companies, contracts are signed between employer and employee as part of the tuition reimbursement program in which the employee agrees to remain a part of the company for a set period of time (usually around 3-5 years) after the company finances their education."

A+ to that!

Gym Memberships

The health of a company's employees is important for a number of reasons. Fewer sick days, high-energy, and positive sense of self are just a few benefits of a fit staff. Get your employees encouraged to move and keep in shape with the perk of free gym memberships. Local gyms may partner up with you for a bulk membership deal making it a win-win for everyone.

Not only are traditional memberships a favored perk, but some companies are now bringing the fitness frenzy right into the office. According to Forbes, "Many companies are now bringing fitness into the office by sponsoring yoga, Pilates or CrossFit. And some companies have given each employee a Fitbit tracking device to help them keep on top of their progress."

An article in the New York Times notes, "When employees exercise more often and eat better, productivity increases and health care costs go down." And Chron adds, "Business owners can deduct (from their taxes) the costs of membership fees paid to benefit their employees. Furthermore, in limited circumstances, they can exclude the value of their gym benefits as income to their employees."

This do-a-body-good perk will not only please the already fitness-minded, but give those couch potato types a reason to consider working out. Your staff will feel and look better, and the increase in productivity will come along with the boost of endorphins and gratitude. They'll get pumped up in more ways than one!

Flexible Work Hours

If someone's a morning person but the office doesn't open 'till 10:30, valuable and productive work hours are lost. Same goes for those night owls who find their inspiration in the latter part of the day. If a company can swing it, and particular hours aren't necessarily required, allowing employees to have a flexible, yet reasonable schedule is a perk that is not only free for the employer, but freeing for the staff.

As Officevibe puts it, "Flexible schedules are about showing your employees that you respect them and trust them enough to make their own decisions."

As long as the work gets done and there's not much interruption around the office with this plan, then this flexible scheduling will allow employees to put in their finest hours and work when they're at their peak. This is also helpful for parents who need to get home to their children, folks who have a second job or volunteer, and those with commutes that are difficult.

Flexibility with employees will become a two-way street too. When the boss needs something out of the norm, these workers will be more than happy to comply. Plus, as per Entrepreneur, a survey conducted by FlexJobs resulted in the following, "20 percent of survey respondents would take a 10 percent pay cut for flexible work options. Twenty-two percent would be willing to forgo health benefits. 18 percent would be willing to work more hours." Benefits to the company are clear.

Company Trips

An annual or bi-annual company retreat is not only fun, but brings the team closer together and aligned in teamwork. A paid day outside the office with food, fun, and festivities is always appreciated and something to look forward to.

Whether an employer takes the team to an amusement park, a beach party, or a day of wine tasting, it's all about the comradery rather than the destination itself. A boss can surprise the staff each time or have each person put an idea into a hat and let the team select.

The day off will allow for the employees to unwind and reset their brains while allowing people who don't normally interact on a daily basis to get to know one another a little better. This bond helps with productivity among the group and with customers. According to Entrepreneur, "A team that acts like a family tends to have better communication, enhanced trust and appreciation for one another and increased productivity. Creating this tight-knit environment doesn't only strengthen internal relationships, it also filters into interactions with customers, which can make them feel like part of the team."

Additionally, you may find that employees have hidden talents outside their job qualifications that can help the business save money from having to hire another person for a task. As per Life Source Retreats, "A team building corporate retreat will allow your company to maximize the talent pool that it already have."

Are you perked up for company perks? These 5 can be implemented in nearly any field and employees will feel all the perkier with these tokens of appreciation from the higher-ups.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.