Do added employee perks make a difference?

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Employers Provide Added Perks to Keep Workers Happy 3/18/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

While many employers are looking to cut labor-related costs wherever possible, some others are taking a longer range view and actually adding perks despite the current challenges of running a business, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Among the added perks are adoption benefits, backup childcare, child-care centers, concierge services, expanded health care services, and academic scholarships for children of company employees.

“Your knee-jerk reaction is, ‘Why in the world would you add something like this now?'” Carol Sladek, a principal at consulting firm Hewitt Associates, told the Journal.

The answer, according to Ms. Sladek, is that many companies have added perks to help reduce the stress on employees who may be working in leaner organizations. The Harvard Business Review cited a study showing voluntary quit rates at companies increase an average of 31 percent following a layoff.

Jeff Henderson, chief financial officer at Cardinal Health, told the Journal, “Anything companies can do to reduce that stress level for employees is something you have to look at.”

Discussion questions:  What added perks do you think are most helpful at this point in time? Will these benefits increase productivity, reduce turnover and foster any other benefits for employers that offer them? Are there any unique programs in retailing or consumer goods manufacturing companies that you believe are worthy of emulation?

My post: 

Providing perks that help reduce stress is admirable and strategic if part of a holistic effort to create an inspiring work environment.  Unfortunately, many firms over the years have added perks either because they were flavor-of-the-day ideas or to mask a lack of a meaningful, inspiring company purpose.  Before a company looks to add more perks, start by assessing whether the employees feel connected to the company vision and purpose.  Is there a vision & purpose?  How is it articulated, demonstrated, made a part of everyday decisions?  The key here is for employees to feel they are part of something meaningful, a deeper purpose than the specifics of their job function.  If you can make this real, you’ll find that you need fewer perks to reduce stress or inspire engagement and loyalty.

If, however, your company’s employees are emotionally connected to your vision and purpose, it will be a natural extension of your culture to work with your employees to understand what perks are appropriate.  In that case, the addition of one or more meaningful perks will enhance your company’s reputation as an ’employer of choice’ and ensure the best talent is seeking to join your team – in good times and bad.

I am most impressed with companies that focus on extraordinary learning and development.  This is the best ‘perk’ of all.  The Container Store comes to mind as a leader in this regard.  As has been well documented, every first-year, full-time salesperson undertakes some 235 hours of training as opposed to the retail industry’s typical seven or eight. 

Start with a great vision, provide extraordinary learning opportunities, and remain consistent with both.  Then, discussions about perks are appropriate and meaningful.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13620

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2 Responses to Do added employee perks make a difference?

  1. Anca says:

    My opinion is that providing continuous learning opportunities for employees will be motivated. Of course, it depends on the company size and the profile. I think that it is really hard to find the appropriate perks to please everybody, but, if employer get to know his/her employees the good decision will be taken.

  2. Mike Osorio says:

    Agreed. Excellent managers know to take the time to get to know their people as individuals and practice situational leadership that is individualized but always congruent to the organization’s vision. When this is common practice, appropriate perks can be easily determined and implemented effectively.

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