Which Workplace Perks to Offer and Which to Avoid

These are the company perks that job candidates and employees appreciate.

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Which Workplace Perks to Offer and Which to Avoid

Here's what you need to know:

  • A perk is an additional bonus beyond benefits that helps sweeten the deal
  • Offering attractive workplace perks is important, but so is knowing what not to offer
  • Consider offering employees student loan assistance, flexible schedules, matching donations, and/or the option of remote work
  • Avoid Employee of the Month programs, promising job security, and required team-building activities

When they are applying for jobs, many candidates look at what kinds of perks and benefits come with the position. They want to know what working for you might look like, but they are even more interested in how they will benefit from joining your organization. People are always interested in what’s in it for them, which is right and proper when they are looking for full-time work.

Offering attractive workplace perks is important, but so is knowing what not to offer. You do not want to list every conceivable workplace perk in an attempt to draw in the most qualified applicants. You want to be careful about what you offer and how you offer it. More is not always a good thing in this case.

You also want to be mindful of what kinds of people might apply for a job at your company based on the kinds of perks you are offering. Example: A beer tap or a foosball table in the employee lounge may seem like a fun idea on paper or during a staff meeting. In practice, though, it may send the wrong message and distract people from their work.

That is just one of many different things you should consider. Offering the right perks is even more important than you would think because it helps incentivize applicants.

The difference between employee benefits and perks

Before we get too far, though, let’s discuss the difference between employee benefits and perks. The difference can seem subtle (and sometimes it is) but perks and benefits are not the same thing.

Basically, a workplace benefit is another form of compensation tacked on to your salary. A job benefit is usually something like stock options, healthcare, retirement savings programs, etc.

A perk is an additional bonus that helps sweeten the deal and is something employees tend to want rather than need.

A perk is an additional bonus that helps sweeten the deal and is something employees tend to want rather than need. Examples of popular job perks include remote work, flexible scheduling, company cars, office snacks, etc. This is an important distinction because it will allow you to craft an offer that gives candidates both what they need and what they want out of a job.

With all that said, read on for some tips about which workplace perks you should offer and which you should avoid.

Workplace perk to offer: student loan assistance

Student loan debt is nearing $2 trillion dollars in the United States. It is very likely that most (or all) of your employees are dealing with student debt to some degree. Why not help lighten their load with a student loan assistance program?

Offering student loan assistance as a job perk can make an incredible difference. It is so difficult for people to keep their heads above water debt-wise. That is why supporting them in this way can change their lives, improve their work ethic and performance, and maybe even take your organization to the next level.

In 2019, we published an article that detailed why student loan assistance programs have become trending job perks. At the time of publishing, studies indicated that over 77% of employees considered student loan assistance to be an extremely important offering that actively influences where they apply for work.

Workplace perk to avoid: Employee of the Month

Employee of the Month nominations are meant to motivate and inspire employees to work harder and distinguish themselves among their coworkers. Unfortunately, Employee of the Month programs often do not have the effect that employers want. In fact, these kinds of perks can actually have a negative impact on your workers.

Awarding Employee of the Month to just 1 person can make other hardworking employees feel undervalued and overlooked. This can be extremely counterproductive.

Employees who feel dismissed and underappreciated may not see the point in giving it their all. And honestly, why should they? This can potentially sow seeds of resentment among employees and become more about the competition than the work itself.

At the end of the day, avoiding an Employee of the Month program can help you find other ways to boost morale and inspire better work.

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Workplace perk to offer: flexible schedules

This is a big 1. Life is unpredictable and unrelenting in how busy it keeps us, making flexible schedules even more attractive for professionals.

The benefits of flexible work hours are numerous. You want your employees to be able to build schedules that accommodate their lives. This allows for life to happen. It also helps you, the employer, build a company culture that does not fall apart when a team member is absent or off the clock.

The benefits of flexible work hours are numerous.

Because the professional landscape is changing so drastically so quickly, many companies have started offering flexible schedules as a job feature/perk.

Workplace perk to avoid: promising job security

Hear us out on this one. We are not against job security at all. Having stable income is great. It is incredibly important. In a perfect world, we could promise our employees job security and rest easy knowing we won’t wake up liars. We could guarantee a solid, stable position and feel confident that it will remain that way.

But in today’s professional and industrial landscape, nothing is guaranteed. Some industries are far more volatile than others, but promising job security at all (regardless of how stable your industry may be) is risky. In a vast majority of cases, it is best to not mention it at all on the application.

Workplace perk to offer: donating & giving back

Studies show that many people, particularly Millennials, appreciate and value organizations that do good on a large scale by giving back to communities. Many companies (such as Google) match employees’ charitable donations and donate their own money to nonprofits.

Other studies reveal that despite high unemployment rates and crippling student debt, many Millennials frequently donate to charities. So if your organization is aiming to hire young go-getters, consider developing some kind of program or system that matches their charitable spirit.

Workplace perk to avoid: required team-building activities

The idea behind this is simple: You do not ever want to force your workers into team-building exercises. Offer optional team-building opportunities as often as you want. But requiring participation during time off does not exactly inspire and engage your employees the way you think it should.

Instead, you want to create a company culture that values teamwork and encourages unity. Fostering a better, more welcoming, and more collaborative day-to-day workplace structure will say way more than forced team-building.

Workplace perk to offer: remote work

This one goes hand-in-hand with the flexible schedule piece we discussed above. Remote work is becoming an increasingly attractive job perk. At this point, not offering remote work at all could even dissuade top-tier candidates from applying for a position at your organization.

Part of your responsibility as an HR manager is making your organization a productive, safe, inclusive, and enjoyable place to work. That said, it can be tricky to figure out what kinds of job perks/benefits are wise to offer and which are not.

It is not particularly intuitive, especially because many of these perks seem great at face value. But evaluating and researching which perks actually draw people in and help foster a positive internal culture is vital.

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