Job Perks

What Do Your Job Perks Say About Your Company Culture?

By George Dickson on July 24, 2015

We've all heard about and maybe even experienced workplace perks like free food prepared by on-site chefs, ping pong tables, and in-office kegerators. Perks say a lot about your company, particularly in regards to what it values. In other words, perks directly reflect your company culture.

Although money may seem like an obvious choice. It's not always the most effective. The team at SnackNation shared a great infographic on the types of perks that surveyed employees preferred over pay raises. 

With that in mind, offering perks is not a simple matter of replicating cool perks offered by the hottest companies, or throwing money at the situation. The perks you offer need to align with, and support your company culture.

The list below offers some good examples of what different types of perks say about your company culture, and how you might use them (or not use them) to improve it.

Recreation

Ping-Pong tables, foosball tables, pinball machines, office theaters, video gaming systems, and other recreational equipment say that you value playtime, that your company likes to have fun. This type of perk can also encourage creativity and innovation by enabling your team to get their minds off work for a few minutes, which is commonly believed to help the subconscious mind do its magic.

Recreational gear also encourages employees to spend more time at work. After all, why go home when your office is much better equipped? This can work in a startup culture, but may be counterintuitive if your company values time spent with families.

Celebrations and Traditions

Celebrations, whether for birthdays, personal or professional milestones, holidays, achievements, or just because, say that your company values relationships and encourages camaraderie. Celebrations bring people together, build camaraderie, and establish traditions that we all can look forward to and remember fondly.

Boundaries

OK, I know. Boundaries may not sound like a perk but bear with me for a moment:

Job perks are most effective when they're aligned with your organizational culture.

Providing and respecting boundaries like personal time, and personal space can be a welcome and refreshing perk for many employees.

Good music may be a small, but appropriate perk in a graphics arts studio or fabrication shop but problematic in a scientific lab where researchers may prefer a quieter environment. This isn't to say that graphic designers and machinists are party animals, or that lab workers never rock out. I'm sure they do.

The point is that it's all about your culture, and you want to provide perks that are aligned with it. If most of your team likes loud music, but a few don't (or have different musical tastes), you could provide a welcome physical boundary by offering some noise-canceling headphones as a perk.

Autonomy

Yes, autonomy can be considered a perk. Letting your employees manage their work, how they perform that work, and their time, including time off from work, supports autonomy. Perks that enable employees to control their work and enjoy life say that you value your employees, families, time off, and the human spirit. Perks that support autonomy express that you trust your employees to make the right choices, both professionally and personally.

For example, Ask.com has eliminated the concept of vacation time. The company no longer tracks vacation hours accrued or used. Employees can take time off as they see fit. What does this say? It says that the company values its employees' on-the-job accomplishments, trusts them to get the work done, and wants them to take the time they need to renew their spirits and enjoy life.

Rewards and Recognition

Giving out frequent rewards and praise says this: you appreciate your employees' contributions. Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their work, yet that appreciation often comes just once a year in the form of a year-end bonus or every five years with an anniversary award. Meanwhile, all those little wins go unrecognized.

Infrequent recognition makes a statement about your culture too: that you're not grateful, and when you are, it's arbitrary.

When you think of adding a rewards and recognition program, you may think it's going to be expensive. This isn't necessarily the case. Rewards don't need to be huge in order to be effective. Microbonuses and genuine appreciation can provide regular bursts of recognition that your team thrives on.

Perks aren't a one-size-fits-all solution to employee engagement.

The perks you choose need to have more than the coolness factor. They need to match and support your company culture.

If you're ready to start building a stronger culture, check out our latest guide:

The Leadership Survival Kit

Written by George Dickson

George Dickson

George manages content and community at Bonusly. He's dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures through thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition.