Job Perks: Normal to Some Employees, Foreign to Others


I recently read a Business News Daily piece with a level of interest I find hard to come by these days. What was the piece about? Popular job perks that some say boost morale, keep employees happy, and reduce turnover. Each and every one of those perks is foreign to me. I suspect they are foreign to most employees.

As I read the post, I was reminded of a documentary I recently saw on one of the more popular streaming services. It focused on the rise of a company I guarantee you are familiar with. However, said company will remain nameless this post. What fascinated me was just how much the company invested in perks I could have only dreamed of before I opted for self-employment.

Where did the idea of employee perks come from? I don’t know. But I do know my father sang the praises of Eastman Kodak when he first went to work there back in the 1980s. Kodak offered tons of perks designed to boost employee loyalty and make the company the center of life.

From Ice Cream to Yoga

Getting back to the Business News Daily piece, contributing writer Katherine Paljug discussed how perks go a long way toward establishing a positive company culture. They also help attract top talent. But I have to wonder if companies truly get a good return on investment (ROI) from them.

Here are just some of the perks Paljug discussed:

  • Yoga and massages
  • Professional development
  • Daily ice cream
  • Unlimited PTO
  • Student loan payoff assistance
  • On-site exercise facilities.

The actual list of perks companies offer is seemingly endless. Everything from free daily lunches to napping rooms are on the table. It’s good if a company can afford the perks, but I still go back to the ROI question.

Some Make Sense, Others Don’t

In fairness, some of the perks make perfect sense. Professional development is at the top the list. When companies contribute financially to employee development, they benefit directly through the skills and knowledge said employees gain. Measuring ROI on professional development should be pretty straightforward.

Unlimited PTO also makes sense if a company’s business model can accommodate it. Netflix is one example of a company that takes the unlimited PTO concept to a whole new level by allowing workers to set their own schedules. Netflix doesn’t care how workers schedule their time as long as the work gets done.

Some of the other perks do not make a lot of sense to me. For example, helping employees pay down their student loans does boost loyalty and morale, but for how long? Once loans are paid off, is an employee likely to jump ship for another company offering better benefits? I don’t know. But it is something I would consider before offering the perk.

Keeping up with the Modern Workforce

In searching for some clarity, I ran across Dallas-based BenefitMall. BenefitMall is a general agency serving thousands of benefits brokers and representing more than 100 carriers. They explained that the new emphasis on employee perks is nothing more than employers trying to keep up with the modern workforce.

Apparently, today’s workers expect more than a good salary and a benefits package offering health insurance and a retirement plan. They want things like free ice cream and the ability to go surfing in the middle of the day.

It is all well and good if a company can afford the extra perks and wants to offer them. It’s just that for me, these sorts of things are foreign. They are foreign to a lot of workers in this country.

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