Corporate Perks: A Thinly Veiled Disguise

It’s no secret that there is a war going on… a tug of war to be exact. Companies are scrambling to find the best and brightest talent and many are failing miserably. One of the tactics used by many companies is to seduce candidates with profound and presumably attractive perks as a lure for employment. Further, these same tactics can be used as a retention tool with existing employees. In the short-term, perks are novel and with that may be considered interesting, but in the long-run, they are not the enduring enticement employers believe them to be.

Perks come in many shapes and forms and offer varying benefits. Some companies believe that free food, paid travel, and other offerings of the like are exactly what it takes to attract new talent and to keep the talent they have. Simply, this is not a solid long-term solution. What’s worse is when one company attempts to mimic a competitor’s perks in the hopes that they, too, can enjoy the same presumed successes and much to their chagrin it goes sideways and for good reason.

Company perks should be a reflection of the company’s culture and match the values of that specific organization. Since no two companies are alike, it’s an erroneous assumption to believe that what works for one company should work for another.

Give the people what they want

According to a survey conducted by Gallup, a sample population of job seekers were asked what matters most to them about a potential employer. The results of the survey revealed that the respondents were interested in a company’s mission, culture, growth, advancement opportunities, compensation and compelling statements as to why they should consider employment with one organization over another. Not a mention of free food, ping-pong tables or free haircuts was cited by anyone in this survey.

An article on Careertopia, supports the findings revealed by the Gallup survey. The articles goes on to state that the five things job seekers want from an employer are: career growth; work-life balance; fair compensation; great leadership; and alignment with a company’s mission, vision and values. Once again, perks were not mentioned as being an attraction factor.

The Millennials speak

In a different survey conducted by Gallup, they queried 1,700 U.S. workers to determine the attraction factors that appeal to the three employed generations. What the results of this survey revealed is that Millennials, who are presumed to be job hopping know-it-alls, are in actuality seeking out employers that cater to a generation thirsty for opportunities to learn and grow, to be managed by great leadership, to be engrossed in work that is interesting and which offers challenges, along with opportunities to advance their careers. Additionally, the survey results disclosed that a workplace with an informal and “fun” environment was not a high-attraction factor highly coveted by this generation.

Independent of the Gallup survey, Deloitte conducted a Millennial survey which revealed that compensation along with interesting work and work-life balance rose to the top of the results and what is most in demand by Millennials.

The Sandwich generation

For people born between 1965 and 1978, also known as Generation X, they too have stated what is important for them in the workplace. For this group, work-life balance rises to the top of the results. For this generation, the realities of managing parenthood along with taking care of a parent is becoming more commonplace with each passing year. To that end, having a flexible schedule that allows for care-giving is a big attraction factor. Further, Gen X has developed a reputation for being results oriented, problem solvers who seek out work opportunities where their feedback and opinions are welcomed. Free food, indoor putting greens and other perks of this nature were not mentioned.

The thing that really matters

As leadership scrambles around seeking out the next best shiny object to use in their recruitment and retention arsenal, they need to stop and revisit that which is already in front of them: their company culture. This one item is the biggest and best perk any organization can offer to potential and existing employees. This is what attracts and keeps needed talent. People seek out a culture that aligns with their personal beliefs. Servant leadership, 360 feedback, companies that take an interest in their employees’ well-being, opportunities to learn, good communication, respectful interactions, work-life balance, fair pay, and for job seekers, a shortened hiring processes and timely follow-through with communications all matter. All of these are indicative of an organization’s culture and what is being researched by job seekers and responded to by employees.

The irony is that the bells and whistles that many companies buy into are actually not what they need. People place more value on a relationship and a good work opportunity than they do a ping-pong table or free haircut. I guess the old expression is correct… sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees.

Photo Credit: ExpressTaylorsville Flickr via Compfight cc

Do What You Love — Forget About The Money

I recently received an email from a recruiter, an unsolicited invitation to apply for a job. There is something incredibly satisfying about a total stranger saying, “I don’t know you save for the few words I read on LinkedIn … and I think you are awesome.”

I checked out the company website to satisfy my curiosity. Seemed like a high-paying gig with lots o’ perks, but I wasn’t inspired by the company’s mission. Nice try random recruiter, but there is no way I am leaving my job. You will have to drag me away from my desk, kicking and screaming, baby-tantrum style.

Why? Because I am living in alignment with my passion and highest purpose. I believe in our company mission and the leaders believe in my ability to contribute to it. How many employees can say that? Can you?

Who’s The Master?

Various guides have helped me to discover the path to fulfilling my greater purpose. These words spoken by philosopher and author Alan Watts led me to where I am today:

Watts often gave vocational advice to students who were nearing completion of their studies. In the video above he asks, “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?” The simple answer: find your passion and pursue it.

Pursuing one’s dreams can be frightening, which is why there are so many people working in jobs that provide little challenge or satisfaction. Those people usually stay in those jobs primarily because they provide financial security.

According to Watts, if making money is paramount, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing to afford going on living your life doing the things that you don’t like doing. How sad that this pointless cycle is considered normal and healthy.

The only healthy choice is to confront our fears and follow our intuitions. As Watts says, if you keep at it, you will eventually become a master. Then you will find a way to make money while doing the thing that satisfies you on a much deeper level.

Know Thyself

Like many young folks (yes 36 is young by Millennial standards), I didn’t always have a clear picture of what my greatest gifts were or how I could contribute them. According to Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy, there are a variety of ways to discover your purpose:

1) Use a diagnostic tool. offers a 15-minute questionnaire that assesses what gives you purpose, how and why. Armed with that knowledge you can then generate a draft of a purpose statement to help guide you forward.

2) Keep a diary for one month. Every day for 30 days, write a few sentences about one action that brought you purpose and what were you thinking and feeling when it did. It could be a small thing — a quick conversation, an email, solving a problem. Figure out what career would allow for that level of fulfillment on a regular basis.

3) Do pro-bono work. This is tremendously rewarding because people find purpose when they do something that helps them to become a master while having an impact. Opportunities are available at sites like VolunteerMatch and Taproot.

I was fortunate to discover my purpose just over a year ago. Today, I manage a blog and other content marketing for a company that is changing the business world through our streamlined communication tool.

I write about topics like supportive management and the pursuit of one’s purpose. Management supports me in my personal mission to become a novelist, which in-turn enhances my business blogging.

The road ahead certainly has its challenges, and we are always blind to what awaits over the next hill. Our task is to do some soul-searching, choose the right path, and trust that we will all eventually make an impact by giving our greatest gifts.

About the Author: David Mizne, is Content Manager at 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution that is transforming the way employees and managers communicate. David interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement; follow David on Twitter at @DavidMizne.

photo credit: ~DAMS~ via photopin cc