Offering perks as a way to attract talent has been a popular hiring and retention strategy since the 1990's dotcom boom. I was based in Silicon Valley back in 1999 and remember my boss saying, "Hiring bonuses aren't enough any more. The hot candidates want something to brag about." Fast forward to today, and the perk packages have gone to a whole new level.

This Company Will Pay For Your Wedding

Boxed now offers to pay for an employee's wedding up to $20,000. My first thought was, "What if you're already married?" Followed by, "What if you don't believe in marriage?" Which is exactly the reason why these kinds of over-the-top perks can backfire: not every existing (or potential!) employee can use them.

The ROI On Perks Don't Last Long-Term

Additionally, I've written before about the negative psychological impact these perks have on employee morale long-term. Bribes are bribes. Eventually, employees don't want to held hostage anymore. Which can lead to them leaving - the very thing the company was trying to avoid by offering these perks in the first place. A poll by CAREEREALISM shows 67% of workers would pick a great working environment over perks.

These Perks Aren't For Everyone

When a perk is clearly skewed to a particular type of employee, animosity can set in with those employees not eligible for the perk.

With that in mind, here are five over-the-top perks that while well-intended, could be sending the wrong message:

  1. Get your wedding paid for by Boxed.
  2. Ship your breast milk for free when traveling by Zillow.
  3. $4000 in "baby cash" when you have a child by Facebook.
  4. Cover the cost of egg freezing or fertility expenses by Spotify and Facebook.
  5. Free Tesla leases by Practichum.

Great Work Environments Don't Need Perks As Bribes

In my experience, companies that create fun, healthy work environments don't need over-the-top perks. The trust and autonomy they give their teams make working there feel good. Professional satisfaction is the greatest driver of productivity. It's better to invest in building a culture that intrinsically motivates your team so you don't have to bribe them to do their jobs. Granted, it's harder to build initially, but the lasting effects provides the best ROI.

Published on: Jun 13, 2016