The history of perks and what to do about them

12 Jan

Perks can help foster community.

Perks are becoming a major part of business for some industries. For example, The tech sector, has created a new job category called workplace coordinator that focuses entirely on managing and delivering new job perks, Human Resource Executive Online reported. People in the technology industry who work at places like Google and Microsoft have become used to having all kinds of things that other businesses couldn't likely afford, such as sleeping pods and a $2,000 espresso machine in the break room.

It wasn't always this way
It hadn't been the case at the beginning that perks would become major parts of business. Twenty years ago, working in the Silicon Valley wasn't too different from other parts of California, but according to historian Michael S. Malone, it changed when Hewlett-Packard began offering donuts in the morning, plus beer on Friday and a large parcel of land for people to enjoy on the weekends. The company added stock options and other benefits as well, Malone added in an interview with HRE Online.

During the dot-com bubble, the perks became more extreme because it was so necessary to get the programing done for much of the business. Companies offered activities such as laser tag, which gave the offices a college-like feel to make the young men at the firms feel comfortable working the long hours.

Things are beginning to change again as those same young people have grown up to be in their thirties and now want more family-oriented perks.

What companies can do to offer perks in their own offices
Although most businesses won't be able to lavish their employees with filet mignon every Friday, there are still some things that they can do to keep people happy with their jobs and retain employees longer.

Forbes reminded its readers that the real value of perks is that they make people feel loyal and boost morale. For companies on a budget, simply letting the office become more relaxed might be enough of an incentive for people to begin to form a community that inspires people to stay longer than they otherwise would. The idea is to make people feel welcome and connected. When people have emotional connections to their job, they are going to stay longer and take the business more personally.

One example Forbes cited was giving a $25 bottle of Whiskey versus a $50 gift card. Gift cards are nice, but they don't reflect the same spirit of knowing someone and what he or she likes that a particular bottle of whiskey does.

In the end, it's really about providing an employee management system that generates a good community that will grow and prosper.

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