Feb 7, 2017

Why your office perks aren’t working

Swanky office perks have made their way from trendy Silicon Valley startups into offices across the UK. Ping-pong tables, free snacks and company gyms boost employee engagement, morale and motivation, leading to a highly productive and incredibly loyal workforce - right?

Anna Roberts of RotaCloud, explains why it’s not quite as simple as that.

Some businesses are scaling back on lavish initiatives because they’re not providing value for money. If your business is considering the same move, before you commit, you should figure out why your office perks aren’t working.

Superficial vs meaningful

Many job seekers are drawn to perks. A healthy list of office benefits on a company careers page is a sign that the company cares about its employees. Sadly, once these new hires start at the company, these perks often don’t live up to expectations. Here’s why:

  • They may be underused or poorly managed: The snack stash might only be restocked every month, perhaps no-one knows who’s in charge of managing the cycle-to-work scheme, and so on.
  • They may act as an excuse for low pay or excessive hours. Employees might value perks, but you can’t pay the rent with free fruit. Staff may also feel obliged to spend more time on site to take advantage of free gyms, meals or other facilities.
  • They can come across as a façade. If managers ignore important wellness issues (such as employee burnout or flexible working requests), no amount of ping-pong tables will disguise this.

In the end, even the best perks won’t count for much if you can’t get the basics right. Concentrate on building a secure working environment and paying staff a fair wage first - then they will become more meaningful.

Choosing the right ones

If perks are underutilised or unappreciated at your office, the solution might be simply to change which benefits you offer.

First, ask employees for feedback on your current ones and ask them to suggest potential replacements. Supply a list of viable ideas and let employees vote on which they’d like to see implemented.

To build this list, figure out your budget. Although you’ll expect perks to eventually earn a decent return on their initial outlay, it’d be foolish to jeopardise cash flow just to invest in a flashy perk - it’s OK to start small. Remember to account for ongoing management and time costs too.

Another important consideration is your office culture. Perks reflect your workplace culture, so avoid offering any that don’t fit. For example: if you’re in the tech sector, discounts on electronic devices could be a welcome initiative; if you’re in the health sector, free fitness classes could work wonders. 

Perks can work

Most often, perks fail because employees don’t feel like they want or need them. Employees have recently been found to value work-life balance and training, so make sure you’re offering things relevant to staff preferences.

Although a list of fancy perks might impress candidates viewing your careers page, they won’t bring any long-term benefits to your business unless you’ve chosen them carefully, with employee input.

Don’t give up on office perks - instead, try to fix them to realise their numerous potential benefits!

About the author

Anna Roberts is Head of Content at RotaCloud, a UK-based provider of easy-to-use employee scheduling software. You can read more from Anna on office perks, HR and small business growth over on the RotaCloud blog. 


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