Trends vs. fads: how to identify the most meaningful perks for your workforce?

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There’s no denying that perks and benefits is a topic that has been in vogue for a while now. From dog friendly offices to unlimited holidays, yoga classes, flexible working and private healthcare, it’s often hard to know where to begin as an employer.

How do we identify the real, meaningful trends within the employee benefits space from those that are just a fad to attract millennials? What works and what doesn’t to support our talented members of staff, enhancing their wellbeing in and outside of work? And most importantly, is it the same in every business?

1. The only one-size-fits-all solution is: listening
It’s crucial to remember that when it comes to having perks for employees in your organisation, they should benefit every employee and not just a subset of these employees, such as millenials. The one size fits all approach will simply not work successfully. Each employee is a distinct individual with their own life, interests, motivations, needs and wants.

The solution is simple – listening. It’s not enough to just implement a perks and benefits programme, this should be done side by side with a feedback cycle. It’s important to ensure you’re getting constant feedback from employees on the perks they like and don’t like, in this way making the maximum return on your investment.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the popular perks and benefits among your workforce are likely to change over time as the age range, team size and preferences of your workforce changes. For example, perks such as free food and remote working favoured by millennials, simply didn’t exist a generation ago.

2. The broader perks selection should be shaped up by: culture
Meaningful perks should be used to complement your culture, values and as a result the employee experience. In other words, it’s important that they serve a wider company purpose too.

For example, at Perkbox, one of the reasons we have a dog friendly policy from which all our employees can benefit, is because it links very well to our value of ‘it’s not a job, it’s a family’. When two years ago, our colleague Sam brought his new dog to work one day, it made sense that he became part of our Perkbox family too.

As a result, our dog friendly policy was born. This has had a knock on positive effect on the employee experience of the wider company as it has encouraged cross team interactions, as well as helping reduce stress and increase productivity.

Not only that, but companies that have perks that represent their culture can often use this to attract the best talent to their organisation. For example, we all know how Googlers receive perks such a free gourmet food and snacks; complementary massages; on-site daycares; and free fitness classes and gym memberships. This helps complement their unique and fun company culture and makes it an aspirational place to work for many.

3. The implementation stage matter too: authenticity is key
Finally, don’t forget the implementation stage – authenticity is key. Perks such as ‘working from home’ and unlimited holidays will simply be seen as a nice to have if we don’t emphasise that they’re perks that are there to be used.

And if it is the case that we don’t want them to be used – it’s simple, lets not introduce them in the first place, the decision is ours as leaders! If the appearance is given that the perks are being implemented ‘for show’ and are not authentic, it is likely to have an adverse effect and turn your employees against you.

That’s why I believe that if a perk is truly authentic it should also be championed by senior leadership in the organisation to make it truly ingrained in your culture.

It’s important to remember that just like employees, every company is different and perks should be tailored accordingly. If you listen to your employees, use perks to shape your culture and focus on implementing them in an authentic way, you can guarantee a meaningful range of benefits for your employees – ones that genuinely improve their lives both inside and outside of work.

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Chieu Cao Co-Founder, Perkbox

Chieu Cao is the co-founder of Perkbox, Europe’s fastest-growing employee experience platform. He has been responsible for building the Perkbox brand from scratch. At present he focuses on leading Perkbox’s culture as it goes global, while also championing happier workplaces across the UK. Prior to co-founding Perkbox, he established himself as a tech marketing veteran, leading initiatives for brands including Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo.


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