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Friday, July 01, 2011

What Perk Would Keep You At Your Job?

Employee perks are coming back. Is that enough to keep you at a job? What perks would make you stay, even if you could get more money somewhere else?

What Perk Would Keep You At Your Job?

23 comments:

Henning Makholm said...

I'm pretty sure that "take your dog to work" would not make me more inclined to stay. It would probably make me quit on the spot, or at the very least stage a highly irregular one-man strike (with an option for standing on furniture and screaming like a girl) until the policy was rescinded.

I don't hold it against people which barely domesticated hunter-predators they keep in the privacy of their homes, but if once start bringing said predators to work and let them roam through the office (and don't you try to tell me that they will keep the dogs leashed to their desks), that counts as a dangerous work environment in my book. I can find work elsewhere where I don't have to risk becoming the midafternoon snack of someone else's pet.

Class factotum said...

Henning, I am with you on the dog thing. Dogs are fine as long as they are not jumping on me or licking me or barking. I prefer to admire them from a distance. I do not want them in the cubical next to me (I have given up on the idea that people have their own offices any more), with my coworker telling me he has an emergency meeting and can I take the dog out for a walk in an hour?

Yoga, on the other hand, would be nice. As in, it is very nice to have a gym onsite and classes at lunch. I had that at one employer. Good thing, too, because there is no way I could have exercised after work unless I wanted to go running at 10 p.m.

Anonymous said...

A full-time storeman who accepts all deliveries. When I order something from Amazon, I can give an address where it will be signed-for and kept secure until I can go down to get it. Collections can also be made from there.

Management are okay about it as long as there is no cost, alcohol or illegal items.

Suzanne Lucas said...

Anon, I am so all over that package delivery thing.

It wouldn't be that difficult to implement and would be a great thing for employees.

Henning Markam and Class Factotum, I agree about the dog thing. I don't like them much either.

Kathy said...

I think being encouraged to take an hour to go work out would be an awesome perk. I would like to say the hour should be part of your day, but am not sure how that would really go over. I suspect that I was allowed to take an hour on the clock to go work out, I'd probably stay later or make it up over time.

Kyle Thill said...

I don't think it's ever about "perks" for me. Just the day to day manner in which I'm treated, and of course compensation for work done needs to be appropriate for that work.

Rachel said...

I like the free yoga idea. My office offers a weight loss program that was designed to be a competition between the different branches. Now people obsess about their food consumption and "failing" during their weekly (public!) weigh-ins. Yoga would have been a better choice.

Mike C. said...

Kyle Thill is reading my mind! Respect and some autonomy would be awesome.

Basic ones include 401(k) matching and actual programs to train and educate workers. I'm not going to leave a company if I'm halfway to a certification, right?

Here's my big suggestion: institute some form of Google's "20%" time policy. If you don't know, it means their employees spend 20% of their time on projects of their own choosing that the company owns.

Allow your employees time during work (say a week a quarter or something like that) where they work alone or in teams on something to improve the company. Do this for everyone at every level.

Even the folks on the front line have ideas to make processes run smoother or maybe want to develop a new product or just have a crazy idea that could be used for company. At the end, have folks present what they've done, what worked, what was learned and so on.

The benefits to the company are obvious, but for the employees you give them a chance to take ownership of their work and shine in a way that they aren't normally able to do so. The autonomy and trust fostered by such policies go a long way towards making a great work environment.

Joe Fox said...

Autonomy is my biggest perk -- that's what keeps me where I am. It shows that they trust me to think (which they're paying me to do), to act (which they're paying me to do) and to screw up occasionally (which they're NOT paying me to do, unless I can learn or profit from it).

Anonymous said...

Just a few of the perks that keep my at my current position: state retirement, job security, autonomy, two weeks off paid holiday pay at Christmas, shorter working hours (with same pay) for the summer months, tons of sick and vacation time -with the added bonus of actually being able to take that time off if needed, free college courses - including ones just for fun! I really do like my job a lot.

Talyssa said...

My hours are fairly flexible right now and that is fantastic - we have 'core' hours (9:30 to 4:30) but they are very lightly enforced and if I need to come in late or leave early for an appointment that's always fine. (For me anyway, other people get told no if management feels like they are abusing the privilege). Lunch is flexible too - as long as the work gets done.

I used to have more flexible work from home time but that got taken away - getting that back would go a long way toward making me really happy. AS it is, despite lots of crappy things about the job its hard to give up the flexible time.

Anonymous said...

I've seen some non-profits offer student loan repayment assistance that would definitely make me stay if it were offered.

Anonymous said...

My organization is closed every other Friday. We only have 70-hour pay periods, so this means charging time for seven 8-hour days and two 7-hour days per pay period. Best. Perk. Ever. Talk about your golden handcuffs.

Henning Makholm said...

"Markam" again?

For a more positive angle, the things that do, right now, keep me from looking elsewhere (even through I could probably score a 50% pay increase that way, if I put my mind to it) are:

(a) flexible work hours: Bascially we're just supposed to name 5 contiguous hours within a 10-18 interval when we'll usually be in the office on a working day, with no-questions-asked exceptions allowed whenever we can announce them a day or two in advance.

(b) No dress code.

(c) Freedom to decide how to do my work, respect for my professional knowledge and advice (even if said advice doesn't always carry the day when weighted against conflicting business requirements), all that jazz.

(d) Respect for the fact that because I'm paid in part to think, sometimes the most productive thing I can do is to stare into nothing for a few hours, or pace the halls, or go for a walk and make faces at the ducks in the park while I wrestle with a design problem.

(e) Lunch arranged by the company (with some employee co-pay such as to keep it from being taxable as a perk, but still much much nicer and more convenient than pack lunches or having to go to an off-site cafe or restaurant. Opt-outable, of course).

HRIS said...

no dress code, great working environment, great colleagues, and opportunities for growth. free meals as well.

Mike C. said...

Henning, it seems to me that your perks boil down to, "I'm an adult, and I'm treated like one".

Why is it so difficult for businesses to treat employees like this? If they cannot trust their own employees to not abuse trust, then why are they employing them in the first place?

It's like there is this attitude that lower end employees need to be treated like children.

fposte said...

I'd settle for an end to pay cuts and furloughs.

Actually, my direct superiors generally do treat us like adults and allow us as much flexibility as they can, which is why I stay through the pay cuts and furloughs.

Henning Makholm said...

@Mike C: You're quite right.

Regarding the package delivery thing: we get that too, but it didn't occur to me to think of it as a "perk" at all. It's one of those "why, of course" things.

Perhaps the best perks are those we're not even aware of as perks? How about
"company is okay with personal web surfing from the office as long as work actually gets done"? Or, "boss doesn't usually throw fits of rage and scream obscenities into your face" or "company pays for heating the office in the winter"?

It seems that our collective answers here tend to blur the line between "perk" and "absence of things to run away from". It might be an idea to qualify the question: Assuming, for the sake of comparison, that you're already being treated completely like a responsible, competent, adult in all work-related matters, and assuming also that you could reasonably expect the same treatment from another employer, what additional perks
could make you stick around?

For me, a good company-provided lunch wins that question hands down. The quality of what you eat can really make or break your day, day after day -- and in comparison to many other perks it's something you cannot, as an individual, fix simply by throwing money of your own at it, unless there just happens to be a good restaurant right next door to the workplace.

Henning Makholm said...

Another idea: How about having an explicit budget for office amenities, and some sort of lottery or rotation such that each employee once in a while gets complete discretion to spend a chunk of that money?

I got myself (and one or two coworkers) a decent digital piano for the break room that way. That's not something a manager would or should ever think up as a workplace perk by themselves, but happens to work wonders for my calmness of mind. Much more effective than management just deciding that what we all need this year is a foosball table or a fancy 7-speed coffee machine.

Anonymous said...

The Friday / month end "Company made goal!" beer cart. It is AWESOME.

Job Search said...

Well for me is the friends around the office that makes me stay and my inspiration why I have to work, my family,... We all have our choices but at least be more sensible in choosing your way.

Guy Farmer said...

Great article Suzanne. I would say a perk that helps me feel great is to be able to do work that I find fulfilling and that helps me use my talents and abilities. I really like the idea of perks that take care of people and create kinder work environments. Valuing people and encouraging them to grow and succeed doesn't even cost money.

imjessayin said...

Naptime and a nice, quiet, safe place to do it. I'm not talking 3 hours, just a 20-minute quickie after lunch. Oh, wait, I see the problem now...