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Tech companies will go to amazing lengths to recruit talented employees – and keep them from jumping to competitors. An increasingly important part of the equation is benefits.

A recent New York Times article documented a Silicon Valley trend where the focus on benefits is shifting from traditional things everyone offers to practical ideas few do. Health, vision, stock options: Sure, sounds good. But how about we throw in some free housekeeping and fresh fish for dinner?

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Of course, many of us don’t even get dental insurance or a 401(k) from work. The most recent employee benefits survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 57 percent of small businesses offer medical benefits, and 89 percent of large companies do. When it comes to retirement, benefits are available to half of small business workers and 86 percent of large-company employees.

But that makes it all the more fun to take a look at what some companies enjoy – to take a voyeuristic peek into the perks we can only dream of. That NYT story got me thinking about all the other fascinating employee benefits I’ve heard about over the past couple of years, everywhere from startups with half a dozen employees to behemoths like Google. So here’s a list, with categories starting with the interesting perks and moving toward the more valuable and exciting ones…

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Family
1. Dog-friendly office (Airbnb)
2. Finding a last-minute babysitter (Genentech)
3. Backup senior care (Deloitte)
4. Marital counselors (Deloitte)
5. $3,000 for child care expenses (Facebook)
6. $5,000 in adoption assistance (Facebook)
7. Death benefits including five years’ salary for your spouse spread over 10 years (Google)

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Food
8. A running tab at the coffee shop (Jetsetter)
9. Take-home dinners (Genentech)
10. Catered meals daily (Parse)
11. Free meals for employees and visiting family (Facebook)
12. All free meals and unlimited snacks (Google)

Fun
13. Movie gift certificates (GetGlue)
14. Green dinosaur hoodie (Exec)
15. High-tech toilets (Google)
16. Paid birthday off (Thrillist)
17. On-site ball pits (Google)
18. Access to secret tunnels reached by movable bookcase (Weebly)
19. Unlimited vacation days (Weebly)
20. Partially paying for hobbies (37signals)
21. Guest speakers ranging from President Obama to Lady Gaga (Google)
22. Free skate park, snowboard park, and ski slope (Burton)
23. Performance-based paid tropical vacations (ZocDoc)
24. Metal, wood, welding, and electronics workshop rooms (Google)
25. Free beer, vodka, tequila, whiskey (Thrillist)

Money
26. $1,000 cash for “real” vacations (Evernote)
27. $1,000 toward home energy improvements (Clif Bar)
28. $4,000 cash for new parents (Facebook)
29. $10,000 cash toward your office setup (Asana)
30. $500 weekly cash raffles (Fab)
31. Tuition reimbursement (Google)
32. Discretionary credit card (37signals)

Services
33. Free haircuts (Google)
34. Dry cleaning (Google)
35. Free housecleaning twice a month (Evernote)
36. Discounts at other startups (Coloft)
37. Automatic travel insurance (Google)
38. Free legal advice (Google)
39. Skill and life coaching (Asana)

Tech
40. Free noise-canceling Bose headphones (Weebly)
41. Free iPod Nano Touch (Sweetgreen)
42. Free iPads (GetGlue)
43. Your choice of computer (Parse)

Wellness
44. Yoga classes (Airbnb)
45. Personal trainers and nutritionists (Deloitte)
46. On-site lap pools (Google)
47. Loan bikes (Clif Bar)
48. On-site massage (Clif Bar)
49. Paid on-site gym time (Clif Bar)
50. On-site doctors and chiropractors (Google)

Also on HuffPost:

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  • On-Site Doctors

    I'm not sure if it's an actual perk not to have to leave the office when you're sick, but on-site doctors ensure that this is a reality at Google's Mountain View campus. <a href="http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/lifeatgoogle/benefits/#bbb" target="_hplink">According to Google's benefits site,</a> physical therapy and chiropractic services are also available.

  • Japanese Toto Toilets

    Is it really any wonder that Googlers have access to some of the most high-tech toilets around? <a href="http://sfist.com/2008/06/26/behold_google_offices_toilets.php?gallery6095Pic=1#gallery" target="_hplink">These Japanese johns</a> offer washing and drying of your nether regions as well as the mysterious "wand cleaning." Both the wash water and the seat itself can be warmed or cooled depending on your preference. Want to see what it's like to be a Google employee? <a href="http://www.totousa.com/Washlet/TryaWashlet.aspx" target="_hplink">On its website,</a> manufacturer Toto lists restaurants around the country where you can have your own luxury toilet experience on one of their Washlets.

  • Endless Lap Pools

    One perk about not working at Google is that Gawker never posts a photo of you swimming <a href="http://gawker.com/217775/man-in-google-lap-pool" target="_hplink">in one of the Googleplex's lap pools.</a> The outdoor mini-pools are like water treadmills: a strong current allows the Googler to swim and swim and go nowhere. <a href="http://computer.howstuffworks.com/googleplex3.htm" target="_hplink">Luckily, according to How Stuff Works,</a> lifeguards are always on duty in case someone gets in over their head. Google is big on water sports. In August, the company installed a temporary wave pool on campus to celebrate the Google+ team, <a href="http://www.launch.is/blog/sergey-brin-surfs-at-google-beach-party-id-1-that.html" target="_hplink">reported Launch. </a> See a picture of Google co-founder Sergey Brin riding the waves <a href="http://www.launch.is/blog/sergey-brin-surfs-at-google-beach-party-id-1-that.html" target="_hplink">here.</a>

  • Conference Bike

    <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2344010,00.asp" target="_hplink">According to PC Magazine,</a> Google's Conference Bike is used as a team-building exercise for new employees. It has four wheels and five riders who work together to move it around.

  • Free Food

    Google's food program may not be the most creative perk at the company, but it is probably the most valuable to employees. Everyday, Googlers get three full meals and unlimited snacks from the campus' 25 cafeterias totally cost free. <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/07/what-googles-famous-cafeterias-can-teach-us-about-health/241876/" target="_hplink">According to The Atlantic,</a> the company makes an effort to keep the meals as healthy as possible by putting vegetables in every dish, using small plates and giving healthy items prime real estate in the cafeterias. <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/07/what-googles-famous-cafeterias-can-teach-us-about-health/241876/" target="_hplink">Google has also developed a creative pricing system</a> for vending machine food (the only edibles that cost money). The more sugar and fat contained in the snacks, the more they cost, which Google hopes will be enough incentive to keep its employees from gaining weight. Image via Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettlider/" target="_hplink">Brett L.</a>

  • Free Haircuts

    Employees who don't have the time or inclination to get haircuts in the real world can get trimmed up at Google for free. <a href="Haircuts just one of Google's employee perks" target="_hplink">According to Reuters,</a> the service is provided by a company called <a href="http://www.onsitehaircuts.com/" target="_hplink">Onsite Haircuts</a> which operates out of mobile homes that travel around cutting the hair of Silicon Valley's tech army. Image via Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/" target="_hplink">Marcin Wichary</a>

  • Ball Pit

    Google has two things in common with McDonald's: an inclination toward primary colors and a ball pit. The Google Chrome ball pit is as you might expect a ball pit filled with plastic balls in the yellow, red, blue and green of the Google designed browser, Chrome. Check out the video above to see employees having too much fun at work.