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Perfecting work perks

Company Perks That Don’t Work — And How to Fix Them

Today’s CEOs, managers, and team leaders understand the importance of keeping employee morale high. The fact that you’re reading this on the Engage Blog — a thought leadership blog meant to define, inform, and help increase employee engagement — means you must have some inkling as to the positive impact engagement can have on an organization. Many organizations try to address employee engagement by providing extra incentives, or “perks.”

When it comes to providing company perks, global businesses like Google, Yahoo! and S.C. Johnson & Son set the gold standard. By providing everything from free on-site gyms to dry cleaning services, these multinational organizations have inspired managers all over the world to come up with their own ways to make their staff happier.

In their haste to keep up with the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins of the world, many employers mistakenly implement work perks that are incredibly generous on the surface, but don’t actually benefit their employees.

As well as costing the company money, these well-intentioned extras can have a negative impact on employee morale; in some cases, creating feelings of resentment among staff that perceive their employer’s choice of company perks as an indication that they are completely out of touch with the wants and needs of individual employees. In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee engagement.

With this in mind, let’s examine a handful of common workplace perks that don’t always hit the mark, as well as consider some ways to fix them and make your employees a little bit perkier.

  1. The Games Room

The idea:

You transform a room or a corner of your office into a veritable shrine to leisure and entertainment; swapping desks, spreadsheets and whiteboards for foosball tables, video games and miniature basketball hoops. It’s the perfect place for your staff to cut loose for a few minutes each day.

Why it doesn’t work:

After the initial excitement wears off, a great many games rooms end up either covered in a layer of dust or as a hangout for a very small number of employees that love the inherent interactivity of games. Other staff, such as those with young or boisterous children, might consider the games room an annoyance, and would rather spend their breaks someplace more conducive to conversation.fyou

Making it work:

There’s nothing wrong with establishing an area for staff to shoot some pool or play a little Xbox. There are a few questions to consider before doing so:

  1. Would a significant number of my team enjoy a games room?
  2. Would they have enough time to make use of it?
  3. Would it end up being dominated by certain staff?

If you’re confident that the room would still get plenty of use six to twelve months after being set up, then go nuts; your staff will get a buzz out of having so many fun things to do on their break. Just be sure to choose a location that isn’t so close to your work area that it will distract other staff members. Furthermore, opting for games that can be played in groups and enjoyed in shorter sessions can help foster teamwork without taking too much time out of the workday.

  1. Company Getaways

The idea:

You pay for the entire company or team to go away for a few days, hoping that unwinding in beautiful, inspiring surroundings will help your staff de-stress and get to know each other better. The plan is that they come back refreshed, closer than ever, and thinking their boss is the absolute greatest.

Why it doesn’t work:

There are myriad reasons why team getaways prove to be ineffective. The most common being that staff resent having to give up time they consider to be their own, even if the company is picking up the tab.

Company trips and team-building weekends tend to be dominated by the more outgoing members of your team, leaving the quieter members of your staff counting down the hours until they can go home.

For others, trips like these are a logistical nightmare. They’re forced to find someone to pet-sit or trust their partner is willing to take care of the kids alone. This is not only inconvenient, but it can negatively shape an employee’s perception of their company.

Making it work: 

Your staff wouldn’t all choose to take the exact same type of vacation, nor do they necessarily enjoy the same kind of activities. Instead of whisking your entire team away on a single trip, consider running a few destination events throughout the year that a) don’t require an overnight stay and b) cater to different tastes.

Choose activities that allow different personality types to shine. Mix up physical, mental, and creative tasks while experimenting with different group sizes to encourage the more introverted members of your team to participate.

Most importantly, don’t eat into your employee’s personal time to reward them—it’s not a reward if they’d rather not be there.

  1. Unlimited Time Off

The idea:

Your staff are free to take as many or as few days off as they like. The hope is employees will feel empowered by having some control of when and where they work. Unlimited PTO is also meant to foster a sense of mutual trust between employer and employee; employees are trusted not to abuse the system, and in return, they trust their employer more as they have a greater sense of work/life balance.

Why it doesn’t work:

Though allowing staff to make their own decisions about leave can make them feel incredibly empowered, there is evidence suggesting that some employees feel that there must be some kind of catch. They might also fear they’re being tricked out of time off that they are legally owed.

Another adverse effect is that employees might become overly anxious about the amount of leave they are taking, worrying that taking more days off than their peers will result in them being passed over for promotions. These staff members end up rarely taking days, often to the detriment of their health and performance at work, all to inform an external perception that may or may not exist.

Making it work:

Unlimited vacation time is a great way of showing your employees that you trust them. But it can also put a lot of undue pressure on them to self-regulate. To combat this, consider doing the following:

  1. Make time off mandatory. Let staff take as many additional days off as they need, but set a minimum number that they must use up before the end of the working year.
  2. Have a clearly defined UPTO policy in place. Set rules for taking time off, and make the procedure for requesting leave a part of your employee handbook. This might seem counterintuitive on the surface, but staff will take comfort from the fact that taking leave isn’t a free-for-all, and that their coworkers won’t suddenly hop on a plane to Italy, leaving them with extra work.
  1. Culture-Specific Perks

The idea:

In an attempt to get your team to socialize, you allow your staff to finish early on Fridays and head over to the local bar where their first drink is on you!

Why they don’t work:

The problem with perks is that unless they can be enjoyed by the entire team, some might not consider them to be perks. In fact, some people may even resent the implication that they should be grateful for something that they neither benefit nor derive any pleasure from.

Things like after-work drinking can be great fun, and many workplace friendships have been born over a cold beer. But they’re not fun for everyone. Due to any number of circumstances precluding them from taking part, staff could feel discriminated against if the company mandates participation.

Making them work:

Just like with the games rooms and company trips mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to please your entire team with a single reward.

Few employees will begrudge a new parent their extended leave or subsidized childcare, but when perks favor only particular individuals, it can create tension.

The simple solution is to ensure that you have enough unique perks to ensure your employees are rewarded in a way that personally resonates with them. You should also ensure that none of the perks you offer inadvertently isolate or exclude certain individuals.

Events such as after-work drinks should never be actively discouraged, but management should try and encourage rewards and events that benefit everyone.

  1. ‘Life-on-Site’ Perks

The idea:

You’ve gone full “Google,” providing employees everything from free meals to a mobile hair salon. With their annoying little chores taken care of, your staff are happier and more productive than ever before.

Why it doesn’t work:

You’d think that without having to worry about picking the kids up from daycare, making lunches in the morning, or running around the house to find a clean pair of pants, your team would be as happy as clams.

While true for some employees, others may interpret these perks as the company attempting to remove any need for employees to leave work.

Still have work to do, but need to get home to cook dinner? No problem; you can eat right here! Have laundry to do? Use our free laundromat! Now you have no excuse not to work!

Like unlimited leave, life-on-site perks like these can cause some staff to worry that by heading home to take care of their various chores instead of doing them at work, their boss or coworkers might not see them as team players.

How to make it work:

The key to successfully implementing perks of this kind is establishing reasonable limits as to the amount they are used. For example, if you have a laundromat, then issue staff with only enough tokens to make use of it when they need to, but aren’t forced to rely on it week in, week out. Similarly, if you’re providing staff with free meals, put barriers in place to stop people eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work every day of the week.

Finally, make it clear to your staff that these on-site facilities have been put in place to make their lives easier. They are not expected to make constant use of them or stay in the office any longer than necessary.

Perfecting Perks

It can be easy to misjudge how employees perceive workplace perks; when you’re trying to go the extra mile and do something nice for your team, you don’t expect them to resent you for it.

But choosing the right company perks for your business requires careful planning, and it’s important to consider any potential negatives, as well as the joy, your perks might bring.

Try to keep your own team’s wants and needs in mind when you’re looking for ways to reward them. That way, even if the perk you come up with isn’t the game changer you’d hoped for, your staff will still appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make their lives easier.

For more information regarding how to incentivize your employees, check out the blog post How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Phil Kendall
Philip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.

 

 

 

Trending HR Topics

Engage Blog: Top 10 HR Blogs of 2016

How fast time flies! Can you believe it’s already 2017? Every time a new year rolls around, I like to reflect on the previous year. For Achievers and the Engage Blog, 2016 was extremely eventful. For starters, Achievers’ Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 was a huge hit, with amazing keynote speakers, including famous journalist Joan Lunden and CNN commentator Mel Robbins. From the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala to a stellar lineup of speaking sessions, ACE 2016 brought together a Who’s Who of top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space. If you weren’t able to make our biggest event of the year last year, no worries. We have the sizzle reel right here for you to watch! Stay tuned, registration for ACE 2017 in New Orleans opens in just a few short months.

Here on the Engage Blog, readers enjoyed a wide variety of HR topics in 2016. Trending topics ranged from employee turnover and talent management challenges to top company perks and thought leadership on the hot topic of employee engagement. To recap the hottest HR themes from last year, we’ve compiled our top 10 blogs of 2016. A must-read for HR pros – and employee-focused management of all stripes.

  1. 30 Fun, Fresh Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – Or Week!
    Do you know when Employee Appreciation Day is? Officially, it’s the first Friday in March. But because we love employees so much, we celebrate them that whole week! Regardless of whether you celebrate it for a day or a week, it’s the perfect time to show your employees some love. To help you celebrate in style, we shared a list of fun ideas to help spread employee appreciation across your entire organization – including how to enhance wellness perks and boost employee recognition. Read more >
  1. 4 Ideas For Celebrating Employee Anniversaries
    Show your employees how much you value their work and dedication by celebrating employee anniversaries. By observing major milestones, you are demonstrating employee appreciation and encouraging employee recognition. Yearly work anniversaries are no longer limited to just a mug with a “Congrats on Your 1-Year!” sticker on it. Discover new and refreshing ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries. Read more >
  1. Top 5 Best Company Mission Statements
    Does your company mission statement resonate with you? Company mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. If your company mission statement lacks luster, your organization as a whole might suffer.  Find inspiration for your company mission statement by checking out our top five list. Read more >
  1. 3 Biggest Talent Management Challenges for 2016
    Did you know only 39 percent of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs? Why is this and what can you do about it? Sometimes employee dissatisfaction starts with management. It goes back to that famous saying, “Employees leave managers, not companies.” It’s a manager’s responsibility to help employees love their jobs. Discover three major talent management challenges and how to address each. Read more >
  1. 4 Signs An Employee Is About to Quit
    Employee retention is vital to maintaining company morale and reducing high turnover costs. It’s been estimated that employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of a departing worker’s salary. Learn how to retain great talent by understanding why employees quit and monitoring for signs that they may be planning to leave. Read more >
  1. 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader
    Don’t settle for average leadership. Learn how to motivate your team and become an inspirational leader. Marci Peters, Achievers’ Director of Customer Service, shares insight from her 20+ year career in customer experience and reveals five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within. Read more >

  2.  Top 3 HR Trends for 2016
    What were the top three HR trends from 2016? At the start of 2016, we said it would be the increased use of data analysis, revamped performance management processes, and a shift in employee learning and development opportunities. Were we right? Rediscover the top HR trends we believed would carry forward into 2017. Read more >
  1. Characteristics of a Good Manager: What Can and Can’t Be Taught
    Good managers can make all the difference for a business and its employees. Can someone be taught to become a good manager, or is it something you’re born with? We share what we believe are some of the inherent qualities that contribute to making a great leader, along with characteristics that can be taught. Read more >
  1. The Best New Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better than others. Start boosting employee engagement with new approaches in the workplace, including gamification, weekly open “office hours” for employee feedback, and tools to empower brand ambassadors. Access our list of employee engagement ideas to help motivate employees to reach their highest potential. Read more >       
  1. Which Company Perks Attract the Best Talent?
    Who doesn’t like a list of the best company perks? Top notch benefits and perks can be an essential hiring tool and serve as your company’s competitive edge to stand out from the rest. From paid time off to wellness programs, we reveal which company perks attract the best talent. Read more >

As we enter the New Year, let’s remember that great customer experiences start with a great employee experience. And it shows up in the bottom line too! According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Start by focusing on employee happiness, and you’ll soon see a positive ripple effect across your entire business.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Stronger Business Results

Here at Achievers, we want to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” to our readers. We appreciate you taking the time to read and share the articles we put a lot of thought and love into creating, and we look forward to bringing you more great HR content on the Engage Blog in 2017. Keep a lookout for new guest blogs from top HR influencers and powerful insights surrounding employee engagement, leadership, work culture, rewards and recognition, recruiting and hiring, employee retention, HR technology, and more. Cheers to 2017!

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 25+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Attract Top Talent With Unbeatable Culture

Harness Your Great Culture as a Hiring Tool

When it comes to attracting talent, competitive pay and great benefits are two big factors. But there’s a third factor that’s high on the list: company culture. For some professionals, the opportunity to work for an organization with a productive culture that aligns with their own values and work style may even outweigh compensation when it comes to deciding on whether to take a particular job. So if you’ve put in the work to build a great company culture, it should be front and center during as you seek to find the best employees.

Step 1: Have a Great Company Culture

Ideally, your company’s founding leadership fostered a desirable corporate culture from the outset. However, even if that’s not the case, it is never too late to drive change. Culture is the glue that holds an organization together, and the type of glue you use matters. What does your company stand for? What are your values? What is your vision? What do you want your company’s reputation to be? A culture cannot simply be defined in an email and handed down to employees. Sure it has to start at the top so everyone knows that culture is a priority, but everyone needs to buy in and believe that their needs are being met in order for the culture to take root. Every employee is expected to live the values, lead by example, and stop behaviors that violate company standards and shared cultural norms.

Elements of strong corporate culture should revolve around the following traits:

  • Teamwork. Build a team instead of a group of people. Collaboration should be valued.
  • Integrity. Without honesty and integrity, a company is destined to fail. A culture should embed the expectation that all employees act ethically and lawfully.
  • Safety. A company must protect the health and safety of its people. Employees need to feel safe and know that the company will provide them the right tools to do their jobs.
  • People Focused. One of the easiest ways to lose top talent is to fail to develop them. Passionate employees want to continually grow and develop their career. They want to reach their full potential, and they need their employers to empower them to do so.
  • Customer Success. Businesses should strive to be customer centered by building close partnerships with their customers and having a strong desire for their customers to be successful.
  • Quality. Employees should value high-quality workmanship. Shortcuts should not be allowed. The company’s reputation rides on the quality of each individual product that is delivered.
  • Innovation. Creativity and intellectual risk taking should be encouraged to continually move forward in an ever-changing market.
  • Recognition. Recognizing both individual and shared accomplishments, especially when they reinforce shared values, is one of the most effective ways to define a positive, shared, corporate culture.

Once your culture is defined, it needs to be deeply embedded and reinforced. Is your culture so rooted in the organization that it is woven into meetings, company emails, and informal conversations? Do you have a formal recognition program in place that reinforces shared company values and bolsters corporate culture?

Step 2: Use Your Culture to Attract Talent

Once you have a well-defined culture in place, you can use it to recruit top-notch employees. A great corporate culture will cause employees to seek you out. People want to work where they are valued and where their hard work and contributions to the success of the company are recognized. So it only makes sense to hire people whose personal values mesh with the values you desire. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If you assess cultural fit in your recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new role, drive long-term growth and success for your organization, and ultimately save you time and money.” Here is how to do it.

Advertise Your Culture

Your website, your publications and your job postings should advertise your company culture. When a potential candidate walks into the lobby and through the office building for an interview, is the culture you aspire to evident right away?

Your company’s mission statement and values should be promoted and clearly visible all over your place of business. Do not make potential candidates guess as to the type of person you are looking to hire, or what values they should share.

Furthermore, don’t just tell potential candidates about your company culture with words. Show them. Encourage team members to promote your company’s culture on social media. Post pictures of company outings, community service projects, and successful project completions. During interviews, give candidates a chance to talk to other employees. Take them on a tour and point out behaviors that exemplify your culture. Give job seekers a chance to see what it would be like to work for your company.

Interview for Cultural Fit

The interview is your opportunity to determine if the potential new employee is a cultural fit for your business. The most intellectual person on the planet with pages and pages of credentials may not thrive in your company if they do not model the values you are looking for. It is essential that you ask questions to help you determine if someone will reflect the behaviors and beliefs that are crucial to your corporate culture.

  • What drew you to this company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are the things on your life that matter most to you?
  • How would you describe a desirable Work-Life balance?
  • How would you describe the perfect company culture?

Having a strong corporate culture is not only important, it is strategic. Savvy business leaders know that the right culture attracts the best employees. Talented and career driven individuals seek out companies that embody the values that are important to them. The bottom line is that when an employee’s personal culture aligns with the corporate culture, the company will prosper. Use your corporate culture as a marketing tool and watch your business blossom in success.

To learn more, download the eBook All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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About the Author

Melissa RickerMelissa Ricker covers business and career topics for JobHero.

 

 

 

Company Perks

5 Insanely Great Company Perks That Will Draw Top Talent

Life would be simple if hiring the best people were only a matter of offering competitive pay. Incentive Magazine revealed employee benefits are more valuable than ever – according to MetLife’s 10th annual study of employee benefits trends, there is a strong relationship between satisfaction with benefits and overall job satisfaction. In today’s tight talent market, employers have to claim a unique position for their brand if they want to snag the top-tier candidates. Here are five compelling perks your business can use to make all your job openings magnetic.

1. Unlimited vacation

As achievement is increasingly measured by output rather than hours, work schedules are becoming less relevant. Remote working means a revolutionary new approach to accountability; employees may prefer working in the middle of the night or from a seaside cafe on another continent. Workers in the era of unlimited vacation are in some ways more connected to their jobs than ever before while also being free as birds.

2. Endless food

The days of packing lunches from home are ancient history in today’s most progressive organizations. Whether it’s the catered meals and stocked kitchens of SquareSpace, the fun lunches of Warby Parker, or the personalized birthday boxes offered by Stack Exchange, today’s work culture is all about great food. Even smaller companies keep their employees’ energy up by providing healthy high-protein snacks by the coffee maker.

3. On-site health support

Your company’s well-being relies on healthy employees, so why not invest in their health if you have the chance? This philosophy may take the form of on-site medical clinics, fitness centers, or bowling alleys – or it may include offering free gym memberships. Regardless of how fancy the facilities are the goal remains the same. Get employees up and moving around if you want to keep them engaged and energized for the long-term.

4. Unbeatable employee referral programs

Plenty of organizations offer plain vanilla employee referral programs, but if you want to be noticed for your policies, the trick is to pay attention to best practices. Serve up those referral bonuses promptly and be willing to reward outside your own organization. Nudge your staff several times a year to be on the lookout for new team members and change up the bonuses regularly. There’s no better way to build stability in your organization than by maintaining an effective employee referral program.

5. Rewards and recognition

Finally, employee recognition programs both attract employees and keep them engaged, as Ericsson’s E-Star program demonstrates. This company’s monetary and social recognitions program has a broad approach, with numerous benefits and perks, including a referral program, digital gift cards, mobile app capabilities and much more. These recognition all-stars do it all with style, building employee commitment by providing a positive work environment.

Download our Achievers Culture eBook today and learn more about how these perks can fit into your company’s strategy for building and boosting employee engagement.

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