Be kind to your employees, and your employees will be kind to you(r business).
Good weekend? Whatever you got up to, chances are it involved meeting up with friends, family or colleagues while enjoying some of the sun we've been having recently. My own weekend was the usual mix of work and family as I managed to get some time off away from my laptop.
As is usual with my family’s meet-ups, conversations were lengthy and detailed, and we eventually found ourselves conducting in mock job interviews with the younger family members. When it came to asking them, “Do you have any questions for us?” the response was always the same: “How much does the job pay?”
Yes, an important question, but by no means the only one potential employees consider these days. Salary is a big factor, naturally, but there are other company perks such as holidays and flexible working that are proving a big draw for job seekers.
Notable Workplace Perks
In a crowded environment, how can companies make themselves more attractive than the rest? Firms around the world are coming up with some fantastic initiatives to bring top talent to their door. IKEA, for example, gives co-workers a day off for their child’s first day at school. American Express is extremely generous for new parents, offering up to five months of fully paid leave for mothers and fathers.
Raising kids is certainly a tiring business but parents don’t have a monopoly on feeling shattered. Raise a glass to Google, then, for providing employees with sleep pods if they need a quick five-minute recharge. They actually look rather scary, kind of like being eaten by Star Wars’ BB-8, but they are a recognition of the long, strained hours that can affect all employees. Giving staff the opportunity to recharge is a very forward-thinking way of looking at the workplace and also recognises that the notion of the traditional 9-to-5 working day isn’t necessarily the best option.
Google isn’t the only company focusing on the benefits of an afternoon nap. Nike, for example, has a flexible working policy, recognising that people have different sleep patterns and offering rooms at its headquarters for staff to sleep or meditate in. Similarly, Ben and Jerry’s, purveyor of glorious ice cream, has been ahead of the game on this, offering a nap room at its headquarters for years.
Sticking with a flexible theme, Deloitte allows its US staff two sabbaticals, one for pursuing any personal or work-related development, and one for any reason they like, which is rather genius. Other companies, such as clothing firm Timberland, allow workers paid time off to help out in volunteering or community-based projects, enhancing both their own and the company’s reputation.
Money transfer service TransferWise has a particularly interesting perk - or penance, depending on how well you get on with your colleagues. It takes staff on an annual, all-expenses paid holiday/get-together, which could be great, provided you’re not stuck with the office bore. In the UK, staff at Auto Trader can relax on an evening with a glass of wine, courtesy of a home-delivered bottle from its own wine club.
If, all things said and done, money is still the key driver, software company Huddle has got the right idea. It gives new staff members a ‘huddle cuddle’ - £5,000 as a joining bonus. Staff also get £500 a year as a gift, which is nice!
Would Perks Work For Your Business?
One things these companies all having in common is deep pockets. For the average SME, it might not be practical to allow staff to take naps, and they probably don't have the cash to be giving large lump sums to new employees.
Nevertheless, the same principle applies in small business as in larger ones: happy workers are more productive workers. You may not be able to offer the same kind of workplace perks as the big multinationals, but things like flexible working hours, work-from-home days and annual social events can make a real difference to morale - and that, ultimately, is good for everyone.
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