Perks of the job – Do perks really impact productivity?
Whether it’s a free lunch or an indoor tree house, more and more companies are offering their employees various perks as a bid to create healthy, happy and productive work environments.
But do perks really impact on employee productivity? And if so, what perks actually work?
Perks – The weird, wacky and wonderful
While some of us may be lucky enough to have the occasional free lunch or partake in a fun employee day out, these are nothing on what some companies have to offer.
- Qualtrics, a US software company, have a fully serviced pub in their Dublin office for their 250 employees.
- By early 2018 Amazon’s Seattle office is hoping to open a greenhouse for its employees. The space will house over 3,000 species of plants and contain tree houses that will be connected by a series of suspension bridges. It is hoped that these will be used to host meetings.
- A British pet store chain, Pets at Home, offer their employees ‘peternity leave’ -one paid day off when they get a new cat or dog to help the new addition settle in to their new home. Company boss Ian Kellet told the Irish Examiner that these initiatives were designed to “support key events in a colleague’s life”.
- As well as giving their staff $1000 each to donate to a cause of their choice, Salesforce have been known to take team trips to Hawaii.
Where do we sign up?
But do these types of perks actually work?
While most of us can only dream of our job sending us on a team trip to Hawaii, the question remains: do these perks really benefit productivity?
The answers are mixed.
Susanne Whyte, EMEA benefits manager at Google, told The Irish Times that their various employee perks are paying off as Google have seen increased employee innovation and productivity and higher employee satisfaction.
Ian Kellet, from Pets at Home, says his company’s initiative has helped cut employee turnover rate from 78% in 2004 to just 20% in 2016.
While Ryan Smith, co-founder and chief executive of Qualtrics, disagrees. He believes all the free stuff on offer has meant workspaces are beginning to look more like playgrounds, that if your office doesn’t resemble Disneyland, you’re doing something wrong.
Instead, Smith suggests companies should be showing opportunities for career growth, focusing on good management and providing an environment which offers employs opportunities to switch and change, if they want to appeal to staff and increase productivity.
So, what have we learned? What perks work?
It’s becoming more and more clear that free only gets you so far. They may be good in the short term but employees are moving towards also wanting more personal and career progressing perks in order to increase productivity.
These are some perks that we believe can help increase productivity:
- ‘Clean Time’ – this is an uninterrupted part of the work day, usually between 2 and 4 hours in which employees can focus solely on completing one project. During this time no meetings are scheduled and employees do not have to take phone calls or deal with other office interruptions.
The idea comes from Soma co-founder and chief hydration officer Mike Del Ponte who says he encourages his staff to engage in ‘clean time’ every morning before lunch.
- Personal Development Goals – many companies are beginning to engage with their employees and encourage them to set a personal development goal (PDG) or come up with a milestone that they want to reach. These can be as varied as completing a long-running task or organising their first event within the company.
Employees are encouraged to discuss these goals with their colleagues and mentors on a regular basis to ultimately achieve their goals. These mentors can often be people from outside the company, brought in by the company specifically to help employees reach their goals and ultimately increase business growth.
- Learning Opportunities – offering your employees the chance to learn new skills can, not only benefit the employee but can also benefit the company on a whole. These opportunities can be as large as sponsoring an employee to pursue a new degree or as small as organising networking opportunities or team training.
However big or small, these learning opportunities give your employees the chance to advance their skills along with learning new ones. This will make your team stronger as your employees advance their abilities.
While free lunches and all expenses paid trips can entice people to want to come and work for your company, these perks are not always what keeps the employees productive. We expect that work perks which focus on employee’s personal growth and development will become more common in the future as employers develop more personal ways to keep their employees happy and productive.