Employers of all sizes are emulating the office perks of tech giants, but is this right for your company?
Tech giants like Facebook and Google have pioneered unconventional work spaces with plenty of office perks. Many employers have followed suit—especially in New York and Silicon Valley. Bike racks, lounge areas, foosball and pool tables have become commonplace. Even wilder, Zappo’s office is dotted with fake zoo animals and a ball pit, and a 65-foot Ferris wheel sits inside Acuity’s headquarters in Wisconsin.1
Cool health & welfare benefits and office perks made popular by big tech companies have been adopted by companies of all sizes across the country. That’s because there’s a new level of competition for talent that most employers haven’t seen since before the Great Recession. The unemployment rate is at a near-historic low, which means that finding, attracting and retaining the right employee is becoming increasingly difficult.
Keeping employees is more challenging, too. Studies show that Millennials are changing jobs at almost double the rate of previous generations, which means that offering the same health & welfare benefits package year after year might no longer cut it.2
What’s making attracting and retaining the right employees even more difficult is a new level of visibility into what it’s like to work at New Age companies. For example, Google provides free meals, access to gyms and group fitness classes as well as education subsidies and tuition reimbursement.3 Facebook offers generous paid leave and time off, family planning benefits and free transportation to and from the office. 4
However, it’s important to make sure your benefits plan aligns with your corporate culture and the work you do.
Most employees would say they want to work in an environment that feels more relaxed and fun—they would prefer an office with treadmill desks and beanbag chairs rather than sitting in a cubicle farm.
That’s especially true for Millennials and the newest cohort to enter the workforce—Generation Z—who would agree that nontraditional benefits and perks are much more appealing than what firms have traditionally pushed on their career pages.
Benefits that appealed to past generations aren’t attractive to younger workers for a number of reasons. Typical major medical isn’t a draw because young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. A 401(k) plan, while important, isn’t hugely appealing because retirement feels so far away. Many younger workers are encouraged to start their 401(k)s early.
What appeals to Millennials and Gen Z, for example, is help with education and finances. More than 44 million Americans owe $1.34 trillion in student loan debt.5 So perhaps consider punting on the in-office pool table and develop a program that caters to this sought-after audience.
But to compete with the Facebooks and Apples of the world, you’ll have to do more than just offer student loan debt repayment or a pet-welcoming environment. These tech companies have also become sought after for their approach to dress code, flexible hours, the ability to work from home, catered meals at work and even health & wellness initiatives like onsite massages and nutritionist counseling.
Choosing perks and health & welfare benefits that attract and retain talent now and in the future brings another challenge to the forefront. The benefits and work perks that matter to a young workforce are likely different than a near-retirement Baby Boomer or a Gen Xer who’s taking care of their families.
Your health & welfare benefits and work perks also need to align with your corporate identity. Adding a second option for getting from one floor to the next in the form of a giant slide might not fit a law firm, for example. Neither will an open floor plan for those employees who frequently deal with sensitive information or handle phone calls. (Besides, open floor plans are now considered a divisive work space design element.)6 Likewise, a completely flexible work schedule where employees can come and go as they please doesn’t work for those serving clients during typical business hours.
Health & welfare benefits and work perks need to fit the corporate identity and employees. Losing sight of either will make it more difficult to grow or attract the employees who can take your company into the future.
1 Fortune, “The 25 coolest offices of the 100 Best Companies”
2 Psychology Today, “Are Millennials More Likely to Switch Jobs and Employers?”
3 Business Insider, “13 Incredible Perks of Working at Google, According to Employees”
4 Facebook, “Benefits”
5 CNBC, “Here’s Why Employers may Want to Help Out on the Mountain of Student Loan Debt”
6 Inc., “5 Bad Office Perks You Need to Kill in 2017 to Prevent Your Best People From Leaving”
- 4 Ways to Get to Know
- 3 Ways Employee Benefits Help Millennials Achieve Mental Health & Wellness
- What HR Managers Need to Know About the ‘Millennial Split’ Generation
© 2017 Corporate Synergies Group, LLC. No part of this material may be republished or distributed without prior written consent.