How can perks be used as an employee benefit?
Everyone likes a nice perk to their job, and sometimes they can be used give you employees a more comprehensive benefits package.
Perking up your employees
In any environment perks can be an excellent way of adding value to your employees, in a particularly difficult environment they can also be a way of keeping staff motivated when, perhaps, salaries are frozen.
Perks and employee benefits can be laid out formally, but are often a part of your company's culture. They are not, therefore the same as formal employee reward strategies such as bonus schemes.
Because they are not legally binding, perks can often serve to more genuinely show your company's support and appreciation for employees than any performance related incentive.
- A free holiday
- A meal out every month
- Free gym membership
- Free travel or car parking
- Use of a company car
- Free or subsidised meals
- Massages at desks
Moreover, because perks are less formal and not contractual rights, they can also be taken away when situations change – for better or worse.
The classic perk
The perks you offer – and how good they are – can serve to keep employees happy when you are unable to offer higher salaries, or you are striving to retain staff.
Alternatively, if your company is doing well but there are strict pay bands, then your company may be willing to negotiate other extras – perks – in lieu of a salary increase.
At the heart of many perks is negotiation and flexibility.
The perks that you offer everyone, such as early closing on a Friday, can also sit easily with individual perks such as helping a specific employee with child care.
Who and how you wish to offer perks is something that you can negotiate easily and in no small way demonstrates your company's appreciation of someone's real worth.
On the downside, bestowing too many perks on one individual – for no good reason – will de-motivate everybody and undermine your company's goodwill.
Keeping a lid on perks
Perks can get out of control by the very nature of their relative informality. Once again, like a more formal employee recognition scheme, your perks need to have a degree of consistency, logic and fairness to them
They need to fit with your company's prospects and situation and its own objectives.
If your company grants free parking because it is in an out of the way location it is a logical perk. If, however, you are having to offer more and more perks because your company is not an attractive place to work then, clearly, it is going to run out of control – and not provide a solution to the real problem.
Understanding the wider picture enables you to keep in mind why you are offering perks,
At best a perk is a win win. The company has the benefit of a happy, contented more efficient employee. The employee has the perk – usually something that they really want and can use, rather than a 'one-size-fits-all' type of reward.
Remuneration isn't simply a matter of hard cash.
In general, here are some of the perks that you can some of the things open to negotiation instead of just pay, are:
- Leave entitlement
- Flexible working
- Travel and allowances
- Contract work
- Freelance work
- Time off in lieu
- Expense accounts
- Additional maternity/paternity leave
Utilising any or some of the above can provide a level of employee satisfaction and engagement that goes way beyond hard cash. These can be win-win situations that reduce your total wage bill and serve to recruit and retain staff
Today's companies are increasingly offering complex packages of medical schemes, gym memberships, extended leave, all of which are really perks that can give you company the edge over a competitor.
However, it is hard to exactly communicate what levels of perks are available to your employees. General perks may be communicated as part of the recruitment advertisement and at interview.
Where you want to offer to keep an existing employee happy, or help them in some way, this becomes purely a matter for you and the individual. Either way, your current employee's will already have established whether yours is a company that is open to negotiation by the actions and openness of its management.