Decoding The Corporate Perks Facade: What It Really Means

Google is the pioneer of offering perks to attract top talent and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A friend of mine works at Google HQ and describes his situation as “too good to walk away from” even when he gets bored. Free food, snacks, shuttle, laundry, etc will do that.

The startup scene has escalated to the point where if you don’t offer perks, you’re not relevant. But what if I told you it’s all a facade?

I love to eat. What makes food taste even better is when it’s free. But unlimited snacks and catered lunches are a nice bonus, but far from the mission of the company.

Now I’m not knocking perks as an enhancement to the employee experience, but what I am saying is how much does it affect your decision to stay?

Look at it from a financial standpoint: free food for the entire company is cheaper than giving a raise to one (of course you have to factor in size of staff though, but you get the drift).

My point is if perks are one of the highest ranking factors in retaining your services it’s putting your faith in fool’s gold. Perks are like purchasing the newest toy. After a while it gets old, you get bored and want more.

For example when I first started working for my current company the idea of catered lunches twice a week blew my mind. Now I still appreciate it, but I found myself getting pickier with selection of choices. If it happens to be a meal I love, free lunch is great! If not, I wish I didn’t have to sit through the company meeting during lunch.

Culture is a huge factor in retention, but perks shouldn’t be too high on your list of reasons to apply/stay. Times have changed where “what you get” is as important as “what you give,” yet ultimately what your company strives for and what role you play will always outshine any perk offered.

Work wisely.

The X-Factor For Employee Retention

x-factor

I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

If You Don’t Know, Now You Know…

Millennials-info

Back in the 80’s one of the most popular cartoons was G.I. Joe.

It wasn’t a show I watched much, but there was a line I still remember hearing over and over again: “And knowing is half the battle…”

When it comes to Millennials ignorance is not bliss. As a manager/executive you may not agree with Millennials’ personal/professional habits, but the reality is they are the working majority.

That doesn’t mean you lay down and grant every request they complain about. Be proactive by understand their motivations/wants/values and create programs to maximize their talents.

Maybe you’re frustrated or at your wit’s end, if so come join this workshop series where you’ll network with other managers in a similar boat. If you can’t make it let me know and I’ll customize a program based on your company’s needs.

Anyone can complain, but leaders do something about it.

When Career Coaching Became The Norm

career-wellbeing

Career development is no longer seen as a “perk” by Millennial employees anymore…in fact, now it’s expected.

Listen up employers, the average tenure of a worker is less than 2 years and company loyalty is fleety as the next trend.

It may seem counterintuitive to offer career advice to employees, then have them leave for greener pastures, but if they’re going to quit wouldn’t you rather know?

Inspired by J.T. O’Donnell’s Post, career coaching is necessary. Millennials dominate the workforce and that number is only going to grow over the next 20 years. Similar to NBA Rookies making their debut, workers come into the corporate world even less prepared now than they once were. Assuming traits like professionalism, communication skills and initiative are taught/modeled to college graduates will leave you stymied. Formal education not only fails to teach transferable real world skills, but young workers are coming into the workplace more raw than ever. So how to you combat this dilemma?

Coaching. Today’s leader is part-guidance counselor, part-accountability partner.  As a manager if you’re not ready or equipped to “show” your employees how to do the job, you’re in for a rude awakening. Career development is just part of the solution, but since most Millennials don’t know what they want to do career-wise, it’s needed.

Imagine if each company had a “staff coach” to motivate, challenge and guide workers to their natural career path. The right “fits” would stay and the “misfits” would leave. All the money that’s spent on recruiting and interviewing should be divvied up between HR and coaching. Offering career coaching as part of your company culture may be the most proactive thing a company can do for retention.

The companies that rank as the best places to work all invest in their employee’s wellbeing. That’s what separates them from the rest. Since money isn’t as big of a motivator to younger employees, a coach can help them figure out a career path while pushing them to utilize their strengths on a daily basis (a.k.a. money well spent).

Knowing the problem and doing something about it are two different things. As a company, be a part of the future, not the the past by offering career coaching to your employees as part of the culture. The ROI will speak for itself.