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Free Beer and New Concepts in Employee Perks

I was talking to someone in HR this week.  At one time, they were a trendsetter in terms of perks offered to employees.  However, they have not done anything really new or innovative in years, and what was once progressive now lags many companies.  Obviously, offering innovative employee perks isn't going to guarantee getting top-level employees.  However, if all other things are equal, employees are probably going to opt for the organization with more perks.  One perk that I have seen more and more lately is offering unlimited PTO.  Even Sir Richard Branson has offered this to some of his employees.  The belief is that they should actually treat employees like adults, and if they want to take time off, do it.  They trust your work is done and if not, there will be consequences.   This is one of the aspects of ROWE that I have written about before.  A company I was talking to says they offer a generous PTO policy but receive a lot of complaints that the time can't be used.  I think another advantage with unlimited PTO is employees won't have this unit of measurement to complain against.  However, I could see employees not taking time off because they don't have that unit of measurement.  Therefore it is imperative on managers to encourage employees to take PTO.

Another perk I have seen twice in the past month is offering free beer.  I am a little unsure of this one.  I think it is a neat perk and would play well to potential recruits, however, this could quickly spiral out of hand and could become a problem for some so there would need to be limits. 

Another hot trend is in the area of wellness (which I find kind of funny that it follow the perk of free beer).  A lot of companies are doing new and innovative things to help keep employees active and healthy, which is also a way to show you care about them.  If you want some ideas, you can follow Healthiest Employers on Twitter () as they tweet a lot about what companies are doing in the area of wellness.  At Walker, we just finished a company wide steps competition where the entire company was split into four teams and the winning team received a healthy lunch (the team I was on won by a large margin and the lunch was delicious). 

However, I do not believe it is so much about specific perks.  It is more about a general attitude and view toward employees, are they treated with respect, are they shown care and concern, are they developed, etc.  Sure these perks are a manifestation of that general view but I know some great companies that employees love working for that don't offer trendy perks and I know companies that have a rotten culture that do.  It really comes down to having the right mindset about employees (and not just giving lip-service) and that guides what is offered. 

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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