Many companies, especially those here in the San Francisco Bay Area, are notorious for offering some really incredible perks to employees.
They have to--talent can be hard to come by, and competition is fierce when you're up against behemoths, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, that are not only household names but are known for their amazing benefits. (Bowling alley, anyone?)
But is there such a thing as too many perks at the office?
At VerticalResponse, my email marketing company, we have some pretty cool perks, even by San Francisco standards. We have weekly happy hours with free food and drinks, and bigger happy hours--complete with themed décor and activities--that are planned by a different department every quarter. We've got a game room with tons of Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii games, shuffleboard, foosball, a Ping Pong table, and even a classic games arcade.
Having these games and activities gives people a chance to hang out and connect with colleagues they don't usually work with. It's great to see an engineer duking it out with someone from marketing in a game of Ping Pong.
But a few months ago, when we were in the middle of the biggest product release in the 13-year history of VerticalResponse, I postponed a Ping Pong bracket tournament that had been in the works for weeks. We also didn't do a quarterly happy hour, because it meant taking people away from their jobs in order to plan the party.
Were people bummed? Definitely. But we had to do it, because we needed to focus on getting the product ready for launch. We needed every single person from every department singularly focused on getting our new product out the door on time and doing everything we could for a successful release.
And you know what? At the end of the day, everyone understood why we did it.
Yes, you want your people to have fun in the office and enjoy coming to work; it's where they spend most of their waking hours. But you also want your business to succeed, and that's what's most important of all.
So go ahead and offer those awesome perks. But don't be afraid to rein it in if you need your team to get things done.