With so much competition for skilled workers and with employers striving to appear attractive to potential candidates it’s no wonder that so many businesses are attempting weird and wonderful things to attract employees.
Following Giant Tech Footsteps
With hugely successful giants such as Google and Facebook known for their relaxed and generous culture, other companies are starting to follow suit. However, imitation isn’t always smart – it isn’t easy to achieve the carefully considered and systematic planning of places such as Google.
Of course what we’re talking about here is seemingly generous perks. Ranging from free food to nap pods and unlimited holidays.
These perks however can be misguided and in reality, not attractive to the average employee. Outside the dream bubble of Silicon Valley, these perks are just not admirable.
What Employees really want
In fact, benefits such as private health care, paid time off, retirement plans and performance bonuses rank above more immediate, in-house perks. Tuition reimbursement, professional development opportunities, diversity programs and childcare support also ranked as higher priorities according to Glassdoor’s 2015 Employment Confidence Survey.
It is also worth thinking about the hidden agenda to these so called perks. Are potential employees becoming more aware of the possible underlying reasons for certain businesses’ seeming generosity?
For example, offering free food on campus – a convenient and cheap way for employees to eat healthily, improving their concentration and productivity? Or a way to keep employees in the office longer, cutting their breaks and even tempting them to stay in the workplace as late as dinner?
As discussed in an article by Mr Porter, some critics have argued that, “office perk culture is little more than golden handcuffs … If nap pods are available, why go home to bed? If childcare is on hand, why take parental leave? If entertainment is on tap, why cultivate a social life?” The list is long and worrying.
When Does a Perk Become a Bribe?
More recently it seems that this trend has delved deeper into our personal lives making life changing decisions even more difficult to make. Companies including Apple and Facebook now offer women who would like to freeze their eggs as much as £16,000 to do so.
The tech giants claim that this is a way to empower women, giving them more freedom and choice regarding their fertility. This apparent perk allows women to focus on their career, enabling them to reach a management position before taking time off.
But this is a controversial offer to say the least. Some say that such companies are duping women into delaying motherhood for the benefit of the business rather than their personal careers. And that many women aren’t aware of the low success rates with fertilising a previously frozen egg.
There is sometimes a fine line between a perk and employers taking employees’ personal lives into their own hands.
Publicity over Productivity
While the likes of Google and Facebook have the resources to monitor the effects their employee perks are having on business, many other companies cannot invest such energy. Whether misguided or just an incredible talking point, some elaborate HQs are going wild trying to appear as a fun and quirky place to work.
Ticketmaster for example have included a slide, inspired by Belgian artist Carsten Hӧller’s exhibit at the Tate a few years ago. While the online retailer Zappos offer their employees the chance to engage in a Nerf Dart war if they fancy.
We’re all for getting in touch with your inner child but it’s difficult to see whether the investment is really returned in productivity here.
Overall, it seems what modern employees really want from their workspace is much simpler. Meaningful benefits certainly outweigh glitzy ones while a good work life balance and opportunities for growth are likely to attract the best employees. Getting these foundations right will take your business much further than annual trips to the Algarve.