Today, many savvy companies are incenting right by providing practical perks that improve quality of life for their employees. You don’t have to be a multi-national conglomerate worth billions to provide progressive perks for your workforce. Small incentives (like an in-office holiday coffee cart) go a long way and show your work force that you care about them while helping you retain your employees, and bolster morale and productivity. A 2012 study by Globoforce: Workforce Mood Tracker™ found that 78 percent of employees would work harder if they were better recognized and appreciated- up from 69 percent in 2011. This statistic alone tells us that a paradigm shift is occurring in the ways that people think about work- and how they should be rewarded for that work. A competitive paycheck is important, but to many, especially Gen Y, believing that they are appreciated, cared about, and doing something meaningful at work packs a big punch in terms of engagement and satisfaction.
A Look at Work Perks Over the Years
1716-1722: Captain Henry Morgan paid pirates so well that it would have taken the lowest paid seaman 77 years to make what a pirate could in one day. 1796: Resources were tight, so Napoleon Bonaparte rewarded his men with verbal recognition, loot from defeats like silver and gold, and medals from his own jacket. 1920s: IBM Chief Executive, Thomas J. Watson Sr., developed a plan that awarded bonuses to salespeople who met their quota. These individuals were also inducted into the hundred percent club. 1940s: Long-term bonuses were introduced. Stock options became a popular addition to their incentive mix. 1950s: This decade introduced perquisites, commonly known today as “perks.” Salespeople were motivated by the promise of fancy company cars, country club memberships, private secretaries, and the use of vacation homes. 1990s: The stock option was perfected, and by 2002, 10 million Americans had stock options as part of their comp plan. Today: Many organizations have applied incentive compensation plans for the entire workforce. These plans are designed to attract, retain, and provide an overall sense of well-being.
Examples of Companies Tapping into Employee’s Needs
Google offers improved quality of life by providing free food at lunch and dinner, massages, yoga, and backup child-care assistance. These perks tell employees that management cares about their physical and mental well being, as well as their contributions at work. eBay helps employees juggle work, family, and a social life by offering services like dry-cleaning pick up and car servicing. This sends the message that executives believe their employees time is precious, leading to their workforce feeling valued and appreciated. Box.com fosters a fun office culture by offering Ping-Pong tables, Hackathons, and scooters in the office. These kinds of perks tap into employee’s desire to enjoy their job and the people they work with. Friendly competition can also improve employee energy levels and encourage more collaborative work. Netflix provides unlimited vacation days. This sends the message that the quality of work and not face time in the office is what truly matters. In our modern society, that seems to keep moving faster and faster, every hour matters.
Keys to a Successful Perks Program
Offer a Variety of Perks: Offering a wide variety of progressive perks that are available nationwide will help make sure there’s something for everyone no matter their interest or location (it’s important not to forget your remote employees too!) For your outdoorsy folks you can offer discounts to ski resorts or outdoor retailers like Sports Basement. For the pet lover offer pet insurance or monthly pet boxes. Your resident fashionista will appreciate discounts at major retailers or even travel vouchers to visit their favorite shopping city. Communicate the Perks Program: There’s nothing worse than having a program but having no one use it. When onboarding new employees communicate how they can take advantage of the perks and why the company finds programs like these so important. Perks should reflect the overall culture of the company and hopefully be utilized by a significant portion of the workforce. Circle Back to the Bottom Line: If it’s employee retention you’re after, you can introduce new perks based on an employee’s tenure. Maybe once employees have been with the company for a year they are introduced to an entirely new set of perks. Or you can offer gift cards and additional vouchers to their favorite perk. If your goal is revenue based, reward employees based on that revenue and their contribution to that number. Directly tying the reward to an action is what has made incentive compensation so successful and the standard for Sales positions. Following an incentive compensation model, perks would be rewarded once an individual reaches a certain pre-determined goal. In Sales, this goal is typically a quarterly quota and once it’s met a monetary bonus is paid out, company perks could be granted the same way. When employees know that they have freedom and autonomy over their own lives and how they manage their time they are much more likely to work as hard as possible when they are on the job. A big benefit for companies is that incentives like flexibility won’t cost you a thing, and a few catered lunches or office competitions will provide big returns for a small amount of effort.