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5 Reasons Work Perks Do Not a Culture Make

Patrick Ball on October 13, 2015 11:14 AM

There’s an infographic making the rounds that calls out some of “The Best Perks of the Job” across the technology, food and drink, travel and hospitality and other industries.

The infographic, which you can check out below, is filled with predictable companies: Google, Apple, Disney, Nestle and Cisco to name a few. And predictable work perks: Free food! Pool tables! Discounted merch! A semi-weekly “beer bash!” Fun stuff, sure.

But perks like these are the window dressings; they aren’t the culture. Will they get a few extra eyeballs on your company’s LinkedIn careers page? Probably. But can discounted movie tickets and all-you-can eat snacks retain and engage your employees for the long run? Probably not.

Why? Because it’s the culture that employees care about, not the swag. Here, we’ll look at five reasons it takes more than work perks to have a great company culture. 

  1. Culture is About a Pattern of Behaviors
    To effectively sell your culture, you first must understand what you culture is, and what it is not. Culture isn’t happy hours, pool tables and free pizza Fridays. It’s about the behaviors and beliefs that characterize your organization. It’s demonstrating, on an ongoing basis, values like autonomy and entrepreneurialism, challenging work and impactful projects.  

  2. The Beer Fridge Isn’t Just a Beer Fridge
    Read a good piece over on TLNT the other day about a beer fridge’s place in a casual, fun company culture. What it came down to is that it’s not about the beer, it’s about the message it sends: that employees are trusted to act like adults and empowered to make their own decisions. “The moral of this story is obviously not that you need to have beer in your workplace to show you respect your employees or to have an empowered workforce,” writes David Lee in the piece. “What you can do, though, is to use it to examine your management decisions, rules, policies, and all interactions in terms of the messages they send.”

    RELATED: Learn More About Hiring for Cultural Fit 
  1. Work-Life Balance Isn’t a Quick Fix
    Under-represented on the ChairOffice infographic are the more meaningful work perks and lifestyle benefits, like flexible work arrangements, paid parental leave (Apple’s is mentioned) and help finding child and adult care (3M’s gets a mention). These are some of the biggies when it comes to helping employees solve their work-life and work-family challenges. However, until recently, they were lower on the totem pole than the flashier playtime perks. As the “arms race” for female talent heats up, however, momentum might be shifting as companies increasingly look to cater to working moms (and dads).

    RELATED: Find Out Why Millennial Moms are Struggling with Work-Life Balance
  1. Culture Depends on Model Behavior
    The availability of work perks and work-life benefits might be enough to get employees in the door, but to retain and engage workers companies need to walk the walk when it comes to culture. Even when perks and benefits are available, employees are often reluctant to take advantage of them due to concerns about being seen as less committed to their work and to their careers. The new Women in the Workplace study by Lean In and McKinsey, highlighted this trend, focusing on flexibility. According to the study, most companies have flexible work and development programs, but only about 12 percent participate in part-time or reduced scheduling.  In order for employees to fully realize the benefits of generous perks and work-life benefits, it’s imperative that leadership models behavior and establishes a culture in which employees are confident they won’t be penalized for taking advantage of the programs available to them. 

    RELATED: Learn How the Cost of Child Care is Impacting Working Parents' Careers 
  1. At the End of the Day, Employees Aren’t That Shallow
    Look, in order to compete for the best and brightest talent out there today, many companies feel the need to roll out shiny work perks. A kitchen stocked with healthy snacks isn’t the exception anymore; it’s the rule. Ditto for the corporate discounts to theme parks, movie theaters and the like. But in order to attract and retain the right employees, and to foster the company culture you crave, you have to go beyond the easy buzzwords – standing desks, beer fridges and game rooms – to get at the values that motivate employees and cultivate culture. Things like entrepreneurialism, autonomy, transparency, and meaningful work, because employees want to feel connected to your mission, values and culture.  

Best Perks of the JobSource: ChairOffice


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