When Do Cool Company Perks Become a Distraction?

March 12, 2018

Everybody thinks they want to work for a cool company. You know the ones — ping pong tables, world fusion cuisines in a trendy cafeteria, or midday surf breaks. However, cool company perks don’t seem so exciting when they’re not backed by a solid company culture that supports employees (see: recent headlines about the many “cool” Silicon Valley startups with ongoing sexual harassment lawsuits). Learn how to prevent cool company perks from becoming a distraction for your organization.

The Case For Offering Cool Company Perks

There is certainly a case to be made for the value of sweet company perks in building your brand as an employer. Google is the quintessential example. The tech giant built its name on its unique company perks, including cooking classes, an on-site fitness center, and trained massage therapists. Those perks, in turn, made it one of the most desirable places in the country to work. Now, Google attracts incredible talent because of its strong reputation as a great place to work; nearly 4 out of 5 employees would recommend working at Google. And on top of that, the company has one of the best retention rates in tech, in part because of its many incentives.

Clearly, Google’s example demonstrates that company perks — when done correctly — can inject new life into your organization. However, when perks attract prospective employees more than the work itself, your company will run into trouble.

Avoid Perks Becoming Distractions

At the end of the day, the workplace is for getting work done. That doesn’t mean that employees can’t have fun at work, but excessive perks may distract from your primary mission. Plus, cool perks cannot gloss over structural weaknesses that cause organizations to struggle to retain top talent. Consider the following tips for ensuring your company creates an incentive structure that really works.

Choose Perks Wisely

It’s essential to recognize the difference between perks that motivate employees versus those that distract from your mission. Think about the function of each perk you offer. Consider, for example, flexible work schedules. Studies suggest that workers with flexible schedules are happier, less stressed, and more productive than those with traditional 9-5 positions. That impacts your bottom line, as your organization will have greater success retaining employees who are happy and productive. In contrast, a perk such as an office pool table may be cool but might not have much impact on productivity or employee satisfaction.

Market Your Brand as More Than Just the Perks

It’s fine if company perks are part of your reputation, but you don’t want your entire company brand to rest upon cool perks. Be strategic about building your company brand around your mission and company culture. It’s more important to be known for promoting leadership opportunities, encouraging work-life balance, and committing to your organization’s core mission than for offering superficial perks.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

If you want to repair a damaged company reputation, fun perks are rarely the best answer. Instead, look to external review sites to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. Use that information, rather than following the trends of other companies’ incentive structures, to shore up weak points in your company. Not every organization does everything well, so remain receptive to honest feedback from current and past employees to understand your areas for growth.

Ask Employees What They Want

If you’re interested in developing new incentives for employees, don’t guess about what they want. Ask! Their answers may surprise you. Develop focus groups of current employees to learn what incentives feel them most motivated to keep working for your organization.

At the end of the day, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it, too. Solid company perks are a great marketing tool and incentive for top talent to sign on with your organization. Combine a solid incentive structure with a positive company culture, strong commitment to your mission, and reputation for treating employees with respect, to transform your recruitment process.

For more info on attracting, engaging and retaining great employees, check out our free resources.

Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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