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Home » The Problem with Perks: 5 Ways Workplace Perks Can Do More Harm Than Good

The Problem with Perks: 5 Ways Workplace Perks Can Do More Harm Than Good

Alongside practicing inclusive employment, a great workplace usually gives its employees a few perks. These range from free coffee and complimentary snacks to on-site gyms and nap rooms. Although some of the jazzier perks sound great in theory – who would say no to unlimited vacation or free childcare? – they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be in practice. Let’s take a look at five ways these perks end up harming businesses and employees. 

1. They can cause resentment

If a workplace provides frivolous or underused perks, this can backfire. For example, if employees regularly walk past an underused gym or uneaten plate of snacks, they will question how well that money was spent. Moreover, if those perks come at the cost of raises or debt relief, that wonder will turn to resentment and affect company culture. 

2. They attract disengaged talent

The most productive and engaged employees enjoy what they do. That’s often the #1 reason why they took the job. After that, the second most important reason is believing in the company’s mission and purpose. Way down the line of priorities is the perks. For the most productive employees, an on-site gym, free snacks, or laundry service isn’t going to keep them at a job they don’t like with a company they don’t trust.

However, those perks will appeal to disengaged employees who want to do the least amount of work required to get a paycheck. Since disengaged employees aren’t too concerned with job satisfaction or believing in their company’s mission, added perks such as free snacks and gym memberships will keep them around while more productive employees leave. 

4. They create “golden handcuffs”

Silicon Valley is well-known for giving out unique perks. These range from custom nap rooms and unlimited vacation time to flexible hours and on-site childcare. In addition, Silicon Valley tech jobs are some of the most competitive on earth. So, “unlimited vacation time” sounds good in theory, but if you put it into practice, you wouldn’t have a job for too long if you took advantage of it. Indeed, that perk often results in people taking less time off

Alongside attracting top talent, one of the main reasons for all the jazzy rewards is to create “golden handcuffs.” If childcare, nap rooms, free food, and laundry are available at the office, why go home? Hence, people end up working all the time. 

3. They can be expensive

Perks such as gift packages, gym memberships, and commuter assistance may be given freely, but they aren’t free. These perks can rack up quite the bill. On top of the expense of buying holiday gifts and bus tickets comes the administrative cost of overseeing everything. Large companies may be able to justify the added outlay, but many small businesses struggle. 

5. They can reduce productivity

Perks promise to make employees happy, and happy employees are more productive, right? The answer to that is far from clear. In fact, some perks may do precisely the opposite. 

Just as social media breaks up your attention span with distractions, knowing there’s a ping pong table or hammock a few feet from your desk can affect your concentration. Why work when you can play or nap? These added distractions can reduce productivity and extend workdays – and long workdays don’t necessarily lead to better results

Although complimentary snacks, gym memberships, and other perks may sound great, they don’t always end up that way. Keep the five downsides of perks in mind to craft better ones for your workplace

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