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Friday, January 12, 2007

Those Policies Really Do Make A Difference

Perks, we like to call them, (although the spelling bothers me because it's a shortening of perquisite, so I swear it should be perq, but then you have a q at the end and that's just not done). Do they make a difference?

Absolutely, and that is why HR departments should think long and hard about what ones they offer. (I have a list of the ones I want--let's start with telecommuting!) I just read in the New York Times that because government workers get free parking in NYC, 35% of them drive to work. Have you ever driven in Manhattan? I have. It falls into the "extremely unpleasant" category. But, hey, you have to pay to park at the train station, you have to pay for the train, but you get free parking? Might as well drive. That's an impact, all right.

One little perk, I have (which has kept me bound not only to my company, but to my particular department) is the ability to come in a little late every morning. I have an hour commute and a child in daycare and a husband who can't find his wallet in the morning, so I usually arrive around 9:15. In some departments that would mean a sure firing. My boss has two children in school and a husband--although I don't know if he loses his wallet regularly--so she understands. Huge perk (and it doesn't cost the company a penny.)

I've written about Best Buy's Results Oriented Work Environment before. Employees get to set their own schedules--work from home (or a coffee shop, or a ski lodge) if they desire. The result of this perk?
Since the program's implementation, average voluntary turnover has fallen drastically, CultureRx says. Meanwhile, Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE. Employee engagement, which measures employee satisfaction and is often a barometer for retention, is way up too, according to the Gallup Organization, which audits corporate cultures.

Turnover is down, productivity is up, as is employee satisfaction. Are you listening HR departments? They didn't increase salaries, they increased non-monetary perks. (And I would imagine with telecommuting, you cut down on office space costs, which can be tremendous!)

Another company with fabulous perks is the SAS Institute.
It started with free M&M’s. Now there’s a country club, on-site Montessori daycare, on-site doctors and nurses, 35-hour work week, live piano music during lunch, 50.000 square foot fitness center, swimming pools, no dress-code, masseur, on-site car detailing. And more. If you need assistance in adopting a child or finding a college for your child or a nursing home for a parent, they have people to help you with that too.

Boy, you could definately get my loyalty for free M&Ms. (I'm starting to think--I just might be a little too focused on candy. Can you tell that I'm back on my diet?)

What perks does your company have, and what perks would you love to see added?


Drew Gillson said...

I'd just like to point out that employee engagement does not in fact measure satisfaction at all. Employee engagement is a much broader metric... one that is a lot more meaningful, but also a lot harder to measure.

The argument is that employee satisfaction doesn't necessarily correlate to your bottom line, while engagement does.

Ipsos just released a paper discussing how to measure employee engagement, look for it here.

A key factor in employee engagement is recognition. Next week, I'll be discussing in detail how these two important topics fit together here.

Thanks for the great post!

FHL said...

My company has anti-perks, sort of.

For example, in the company breakroom, there's a pool table and a couple of ping-pong tables, and loads of bottled drinks and snacks ... but they're only for the sales people who don't actually have offices in this building, as opposed to all of us who do. It really makes the rest of us feel ... unworthy. (And so we steal the snacks when we can! Well, I don't, but I have been tempted.)

Plus, I "get" to work long, unpaid hours, sometimes on paid holidays. (Actually had my manager tell me that I "get" to work instead of "have" to work. Internally, I was wishing I could develop a mutant power that would allow me to blast him.)

Okay, actual perks: I can eat at my desk, and sometimes log in remotely from home - but those hours are usually in addition to my normal hours. And the casual dress code is nice.

As you might infer, morale here is pretty low.

Evil HR Lady said...


Your company should win some sort of prize for the worst perks. What an incredibly stupid idea--look everyone, a room full of treats but only the chosen ones can have some!

Evil HR Lady said...


Thanks for the links! I hope to hear more from you.

mrsizer said...

The right kind of recognition is important. Silly plaques presented at meetings may stroke some people's egos, but it leaves me cold. The best "recognition" I've ever received was when a manager two levels over me handed me a $100 for some hard work I'd just finished. As far as I know, no one else is even aware of it - but I know that he knows that I do good work.

Perks: Fully stocked kitchen (everything but meat, the owner is a vegetarian - if we want meat, we have to bring it ourselves), very nice office furniture (you'll get my Herman Miller chair when you pry it from my cold dead fingers), the ability to telecommute (e.g. almost no one was in the office during the latest Denver blizzard), flexible hours (generally 7:30-4:30, but exceptions abound and being late occasionaly is no big deal), local paper and WSJ in the kitchen, magazine subscriptions, Eco-Pass (that's Denver's ride the bus/train for free whenever pass), Russian classes (we have several offices in Eastern Europe - they get English classes), and all the normal heathcare stuff "free" for the employee (dependents have a cost, but it is pretty nominal).

That's off the top of my head. It's a nice working environment, which is why I'm still there despite not getting a raise in two years.

Evil HR Lady said...


I agree with you. I would love free food.

I do, however, have a plaque that declares me as Burger King Employee of the month. Maybe I should take it into work and hang it in my office!

Tristi Pinkston said...

I thought they were called "perks" because they make you feel perky. :)

Samantha said...

I'm working as a temp right now, but some of the perks that I still get to enjoy at my current assignment (been there 6 months now! I wish they'd hire me outright!) include company paid lunches when we have lunch time meetings, breakfast treats on Monday's and Friday's, a wide variety of pop in the company fridge, fresh ground coffee, free hot cocoa and tea, bottled water on hand at all times, flexibility to leave early 2x a week so I can go to college, and the office closes at Noon on Friday's.

Oh, and because we have an office in Indianapolis (and the owners are Colts fans), the day after the Super Bowl, we aren't opening until Noon so that all employees (at all three of our locations, two in Indiana and one in Atlanta) can recover from our victory celebrations. :D

(sorry for the amount of comments I'm leaving so late in the game - my laptop went *poof* around the 1st and I'm having to track down all my bookmarks again. I'm trying to get caught up!)

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