In this ever-competitive world, employees are increasingly spending more than 8 hours a day in the office. Accordingly, people care more about their office space and employee perks than ever before. Once a single line in a recruiting spiel—ah, by the way, we have gym access—now becomes a paragraph: we have gym access, with a complete weight room, and a private trainer that comes twice a week.
No one’s going to turn down free cookies and coffee. But for potential hires, especially millennials, the perks are not just an end to themselves. We look at perks as signals. For example: so you say we get free cookies and coffee. Great. But that’s just the baseline of being considerate in today’s modern corporate culture. Are these cookies gluten-free? Better yet, do we have a say in what kind of cookies we get?
My former company (that will not be named) offered free cookies. But these cookies were the generic, bottom-shelf kind, and no one ever touched them. In contrast, my current boss hands the credit card to anyone who asks, sometimes to his detriment. It’s not a big gesture, but it says volumes about the culture. Is the management here actually considerate? Are they listening to employees? Do they trust their employees?
Another example: having a game room with actual video games. Whether you play or not, the video games are a subtle way for companies to signal they aren’t only accepting of that vibrant sub-culture, they’re up-to-date with the latest got-to-play. In other words, they’re hip, they’re modern, and even a little geeky.
And then there’s the classic dog in the office. It is the ultimate “we’re chill, we we don’t wear clothes which can’t be slobbered on.” I’m on the fence about this one, just for the classic reason that someone can be allergic. That being said, having pets in the office could be a signal to potential hires that the company culture is small, intimate, and probably values coworker compatibility as high as skill.
In conclusion: employee perks aren’t just a checklist. They are a reflection of company culture. It’s no use having free dry cleaning and game rooms if your manager isn’t open to newer, perhaps potentially radical solutions to old problems. Similarly, there’s no point in spending money on gym access when what your employees really want are better computers.
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