Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perkanomics: Employee Perks in a tight market

There are books, articles and awards for companies that offer the best Perks for employees. There is every spectrum of perk from the likes of Google (free organic food, free bike repairs and free hair cuts - no joke!) to Adobe, who offers biodegradable and compost freindly cutlery.

What is interesting about Googles perks, different from others, is that all their perks are centred around freeing up employee time so that their employees can work MORE! It is genius! They take away time consuming tasks (going to the dry cleaners, doing laundry, preparing food) so that their employees can have their schedules cleared for more work productivity.

Kira Vermond wrote an interesting article in the Globe and Mail about Perks in the time of a recession.

Some of the perks in question from Kira Vermond;s article are perks for the "Have's". In times of motivating a work force, employees "C" level to "Entry" level, should feel that they are all giving something up equally. Corporate Culture is a fragile entity. I agree with cutting back perks that only a few can participate in - Executive Trips, Corporate vacations. Perks, in my opinion should have an objective. Building interoffice relationships, cross training, resume building, recognizing the employees family for their support of the organization.

It is time to get creative on how we recognize and retain talent. I like any perk that improves a person: One free day off a quarter to do volunteer work on behalf of the company (Junior Achievement for example). How about bringing a Kick boxing instructor in? A Yoga instructor? Cooking Instructor? Almost every facet of entertainment these days is about giving the audience a new experience. Perhaps that is where employers should focus. A big motivator for me would be a leadership course at Richard Ivey. Better yet for the company - send me with my colleagues and create a buzz along with a renewed passion for work!

In some ways, as sad as this is to say, some people don't know they have had a good day until they have a bad day. They have no reference point. Employees forget all the thought and good will having gone into their current benefit plan. Unfortunately, it may only be until the benefits are gone, will they truly appreciate them.

As an employer, I am looking for high value, low cost, BIG impact benefits. I look forward to watching as myself and other companies, big and small, reinvent the meaning of "Employee Benefits" that create sustainability for all.

Happy 2009!

Susan Corcoran

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