Ok, so we've all heard of the really "cool" companies who pay for their employees' weddings, or gift them cars, or provide catered lunches, or buy them whatever the heck piece of furniture they want.
But do they really work?
Many companies are investing a lot money into such perks, thinking that it's a cost-effective way to get more work out of their people. But with the intention of just "getting the most work out of people," these perks definitely don't work.
They're usually put into effect with the wrong intentions.
Nobody likes feeling like a farmed cow that's fed regularly and expected to produce, produce, produce.
Some companies cater lunches as an incentive for people to work longer hours, or to appease the ones who already do. This may be taken as an award for working longer hours, so employees may feel that they are expected to stay at work longer, eat through lunch at their desk, and continue working through breaks.
Employees who don't take enough breaks throughout the day are less creative and sooner or later get burned out, resulting in absenteeism costs, higher risks of injury (yes, even in desk jobs), and decreased productivity.
They're usually bandaids.
Fun perks tend to be more like bandaids in that they make people happy in the now, but in the long term, they're really brushing real issues that need to be addressed under the rug.
For example, companies that provide booze, game tables, and Fitbits want work to seem fun but if underlying issues such as communication problems amongst team members or unhealthy work habits that lead to injury are not also addressed, employees will soon get over the "fun" and feel the stress of the underlying issues.
So what can you do to make sure they do work?
When considering which company perks to invest in, ask yourself if you're doing providing these with the employee's best interest in mind, or your own and your business'. If you want your best talent to stay in your company and to continually grow and develop their skills, you'll need to think about their long-term wellbeing and not just what you think they want now.
Consider sending out a company survey that asks, "What can the company provide you with to support your happiness and growth for the next 10 years or more?" When collecting answers, be sure to consider what the underlying root issues are instead of just taking answers at face value. This may involve speaking to individual employees more to gather more information.
Yes, this process takes a lot of time and energy and analysis, but the benefits are well worth it. Constantly speaking to and getting involved in the lives and wellbeing of employees are like getting long-term cost-effective solutions handed to you on platter. Imagine lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, a sense of REAL fun (as opposed to bandaid fun), and a cohesive company filled with individuals who are part of a movement to impact the world.
Since this process takes more time and energy than your company may want to deal with, you can work with other companies that create and provide corporate wellness programs. Just be sure to ask whether they do this kind of extensive research with direct communication with your employees before they spit out a proposal with a bunch of workshops and fun things that "your company needs."