With major tech tenants entering the Seattle market and the need for highly qualified individuals, office perks can play a vital role in recruiting and retaining employees. Workers today not only expect a competitive salary, strong benefits, and paid vacation; they also want a fully-stocked kitchen, cool office space, and flexibility.
However, as shown in this video, sometimes companies go too far chasing the latest fad that they forget the initial objective to attract and retain top talent. While these modern office perks provide a unique talking point in the office; and a unique selling point for potential employees, some companies are struggling to separate the office gimmicks from the office benefits.
“One of the things we enjoy most and talk about most often when starting a new job is the company culture we’re experiencing. It’s what draws us to a specific workplace and what keeps us coming back,” says Rover’s Head of People and Culture, Jovana Teodorovic. “At Rover, we are known as The Dog People, so our culture is greatly shaped by our love of animals and our focus on our mission.”
When selecting benefits for your employees it’s important to always circle back to company culture. For example, Airbnb gives their employees an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and stay in any Airbnb listing around the world. Outdoor retailer, REI, offers their employees two paid days a year, called Yay Days, to go outside and enjoy nature. This perk works for REI because they already attract and hire outdoor enthusiasts that live and breathe the company brand. The worth of a Yay Day at REI is much greater than one at Airbnb, just like the travel stipend holds greater worth for the travel company. Both perks support that specific company’s brand and culture objectives, that’s why they work.
Utilizing your office space is another great way to add value for your employees. Nearly half (47%) of employed Americans say the overall design of their workspace influences their productivity, while 42% report that it also impacts their quality of work.
“Our office is a blend of dog treats, doggy gates and comfy working areas where our employees can focus on making significant business impact while cradling their favorite furry friend in their laps. When integrated well, culture flows seamlessly from employee interactions and behaviors, to physical spaces and beyond,” says Teodorovic.
Michelle McLaughlin, Client Development, Project and Development Services of JLL Canada elaborates, “Good design enables users, it is purposeful and thoughtful.” Google’s workplace, for example, reflects its ambition “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world”. Unorthodox workplaces reflect their unorthodox thinking, but companies can’t simply replicate a Google-like workplace and expect Google-like results. Instead, the workplace needs to reflect what the organization and its people desire, according to McLaughlin.
For example, a core pillar of culture at Zillow is trust. “Trust has to be at the center of everything we do,” Dan Spaulding, Chief People Officer at Zillow Group explained. “If it’s not, it won’t show up to our customers; to our consumers who are going on the website to look at the values of homes; to the real estate agents that we want to build deep relationships with;” Spaulding continued. “So we try to establish a level of trust within our mission that is very clear for our employees.”
The majority of Zillow’s 36th floor is an open space with furniture on wheels. This enables employees to move things around to fit their needs. The company also offers a reflection space for yoga and meditation, a maker space to build and create, and a jam room that is filled with musical instruments for employees to take a break and release any stress. Each of these office perks shows a level of trust between the company and the employees they depend on.
Similarly, Outreach, a Seattle-based SaaS company, is adding a game room to their new office space filled with a variety of board games and puzzles to give their staff a physical and mental break from their daily work.
While it’s fun to envision a rock-climbing wall behind reception or beanbag chairs in every corner, it’s more valuable to outline the core themes of your company culture and find solutions that drive that culture home. That’s the only way to overcome the perks pitfalls and find the true office benefits that are unique to your company.