Perks at Work

Yes, we’ve heard about company perks that big employers like Google and Facebook can offer their employees. But, what can smaller companies do? With limited budgets, it can be challenging, but offering attractive low-cost perks encourages creative ideas that will keep employees engaged and happy.

Some good perks to many employees are flexible schedules, telecommuting, and extra vacation days. Depending on the environment and culture, some employees enjoy the benefits of Take Your Dog to Work Day. There is also job sharing for new parents, or a paid day off per year to volunteer for a favourite charity. These are just some of the benefits that enable employees to work well and live well.

Many years ago, I worked at a company where the Director of our branch office did a lot of corporate travel. He racked up the air miles points, enough to be rewarded a long haul flight, and every year at the staff holiday party he drew a name out of a hat. I remember one year, the winning staff member was our long time receptionist who used the air miles to go on her honeymoon to the Caribbean. Although only one person really benefited from this perk, we all felt great about it.  It did wonders for morale.

A tricky thing about introducing a new perk, is the sustainability of it. When financial times are tough, sometimes it’s those little perks that go away first. It can be awfully hard to take back those pizza Fridays that everybody enjoyed for the past year. Outrage may occur, and companies don’t like being the bad guy.

That being said, it can be fun to change things up a bit. Replace one perk with another one. A great morale booster is a peer-led recognition system, whereas the staff nominates one of their fellow co-workers as a star employee for going above and beyond their regular work.  The company provides the prize – anything from a paid day off or gift cards. With a values-driven culture, the company should be in tune to their employees’ interests, and the awards can be highly personalized.

While going above and beyond the standard benefits can help boost moral and create a loyal workforce, keep in mind that it is not the dollar amount that matters. Taking a philosophical approach to values and culture, and the thought you put into it will create a culture of happiness and fun in the long run.

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3 responses to “Perks at Work

  1. Great article Jessica! I agree – it’s so true that perks need to be sustainable. I know of a company that talked a lot about all the “great perks” hardworking staff would see when they reached management level… then due to the economy, the company cut all of the management perks. Even though it was understandable, it was disappointing for all those who had been working hard for the carrot. Sometimes, free perks like listening to staff ideas and rewarding small accomplishments with simple recognition, is the key to happy employees.

  2. Great ideas Jessica, I know working in a small business that perks can be a challenge. Little fun things an make a big difference. Enjoy your weekend!

  3. A very nice perspective on perks Jessica. I would agree that it is difficult to get the right balance and perhaps more difficult still to establish what is likely to be the most effective perk. I would have hoped that research has also looked at the return on perks vis-a-vis employee performance and the likely impact that a reduction or removal of perks has. On the motivational literature front the evidence suggests that external rewards encourage a performance orientation, which consequently has a deleterious impact on effort, especially when employees encounter more challenging tasks. Certainly lots to consider.

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