Ping-pong tables, nap-pods, endless snacks and beer on tap are the hallmark perks of trendy start-ups, tech companies and creative agencies, but what value do they really hold? Sure, they rank high on the cool meter, but how tangible are they when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent?
A 2017 survey found that 86% of adult office workers in the United Kingdom felt that fun features had no specific value in their working life; in fact, 25% of them found them annoying.
It’s time to leave the games in the dorm room and create a culture that invests in people, not toys. Today’s competitive currency is culture. To be a culture-first company, organizations must provide an environment that enables employees to thrive. Work-life balance, flexibility, continuous learning, collaboration and innovation are the new “perks” that win the loyalty of high-value talent.
Linkedin’s 2018 study on hiring and retaining top talent reported that strong workplace benefits are a key factor (44%) in keeping professionals at their company for more than five years. PTO, parental leave and work-life balance are vital in our always-on, overworked world.
There used to be a division between work and home-life, but email, texting and IM have blurred those lines, a trend which can be damaging for both the company and its employees. Quantity doesn’t necessarily deliver quality; it’s a matter of diminishing returns; people need rest and relaxation, or they risk burnout. Most managers recognized that employees who take all or most of their vacation time are more productive, so it is important to create a culture that encourages your workforce to take advantage of PTO. Helping prevent burnout is not only the right thing to do, it also has countless benefits for your organization including improving retention, reducing sick days and boosting productivity.
Offering flexibility in the work schedule to allow employees to spend time with their family and friends, shows them that you value the work they do and trust them to deliver the same (or even stronger) performance in the hours they do work. Reducing the stress of balancing family and career helps improve their quality of life inside and outside the workplace. Despite this, in 2017 only 2% of US employers offered “unlimited” vacation.
Continuous learning and innovation
Across all industries, the companies and the roles within them, are changing at a pace never seen before. Digital disruption and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence are shaking the very bedrock of how we do business. As a result, continuous learning is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must-have. Organizations and employees must invest in training to stay relevant.
A recent report from the United Nations Education Commission revealed that up to half of the
world’s jobs (around two billion) are at high risk of disappearing in the coming decades due to automation. It also states that the growing skills gap will stunt economic growth, with far-reaching social and political repercussions.
For the workforce to upskill and reskill, organizations must provide the resources and training programs that teach the skills required. Employees agree; Linkedin’s survey found that people prefer their company to focus on benefits like learning and development programs rather than providing free food and game rooms.
Personal growth and upward mobility are natural human desires. Employers that provide their staff with the resources to grow their role and learn new skills outside their job descriptions will nurture loyalty and foster long-term retention. By creating a playground for the mind, organizations are not only investing in the future of their workforce but in the future of their company.
Socialization and collaboration
While game rooms and endless snacking opportunities may not produce long-term ROI, the concept behind them does. Humans crave social connection and collaboration, and work relationships are important to employee well-being, positively or negatively affecting stress levels, productivity and general happiness. These factors not only affect work performance, they also affect employee health.
It is essential for organizations to provide a collaborative work environment. Team workspaces with room to move around and be creative with whiteboards, teleconference capabilities and good acoustics allow everyone to be heard clearly and feel invested. As technology evolves, so does where and how we work; global organizations, companies with multiple locations and/or remote workers can now bring their diverse teams together by investing in communication tools like video conferencing and chat platforms in addition to email.
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But let’s not forget the power of the breakroom. A space for people to decompress, socialize, celebrate birthdays and connect with members of other departments, benefits more than employee wellness. These low-stress interactions can be an incubator for innovation and future collaboration.
You can’t put a price on feeling valued; including employees in key business initiatives, processes and goals demonstrates they are truly valued and trusted by the company and their fellow employees. It gives them a sense of belonging, in turn, they become intrinsically motivated and genuinely care about the company. By nurturing an environment where employees care about the company and their fellow workers, encourages creativity, high-performance and open communication. It also promotes understanding which reduces the hurdles that naturally occur when working in diverse work-groups.
Game rooms, unlimited snacks and a continuous flow of adult beverages may seem appealing at first glance, but when given a choice between napping in a hammock or enjoying a work/life balance and continuous growth, employees will opt for the latter. So, don’t create the ultimate dorm-room for your employees, create a culture-first environment that focuses on enrichment rather than surface-level perks. Develop an environment that promotes well-being through professional development, social interaction, mutual trust, collaboration and work/life balance.
When you make a meaningful long-term investment in your employees, they will make a meaningful long-term investment in you.