Not Your Daddy’s Company Perks

October 15, 2012

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Company perks in my dad's day included a company car, a corner window office and unlimited refills at the water cooler.  Everybody had access to the lunchroom area on the 4th floor consisting of yellow painted walls, a sitting area, microwave and the infamous refrigerator with death threat post-its – "To Whomever Drank My Tab:  May the flees of a thousand camels infest your armpits" .  Next to the lunchroom was the row of behemoth vending machines:  Cigarettes, soda, and the beloved junk machine – filled with candy bars, chips, no-expiration honey buns, and the full assortment of Wrigley gum on the bottom row.  An energy boost came from dropping two dimes and a nickel into that high-tech coffee machine, filtering water through ashtray remnants. But, if you added enough powdered cream and sugar it may… at some point…resemble coffee. 

Let's leapfrog 25 years ahead and stop by the free espresso bar for your morning cup of java.  Hungry for a snack? Try the free health bar – loaded with power bars, fruit, nuts and yogurt.  Be sure to make use of the company gym, pool and rock climbing wall and if you need a power nap in the middle of the day, the company will gladly supply a cozy blanket and a comfortable "quiet zone". 

It is true that to attract top talent, the New Age of business calls for bold ideas across the board.   However, the motivation behind enticing perks is not solely geared toward attracting talent.  Sure it helps, but another rationale is for companies to create an environment where folks can maximize their professional talent. Business Insider lays out companies leading-the-way like Google, Zappos and Cisco.  Naps and playtime are no longer for the single-digit age group, science shows you gain more productivity and smarter ideas from a well-rested employee. 

Yoga, meditation, and kindness workshops? Absolutely!  Light has finally dawned on marble head – energy matters and positive energy breeds a harmonious environment with less gossip taking place around the water cooler – protein-packed juice bar! 

Malcolm Gladwell has long exposed the ridiculous notion that companies need Harvard MBAs to head departments in order to be successful.  Everyone has greatness and the job of co-founders and C-level executives is to create an environment where said talent is recognized, nurtured and cultivated for the vitality of the company.  There are numerous examples to use as a guidepost.  For example, healthcare consulting company Beryl Health has implemented an extension to the company called The Circle, focusing squarely on creating a positive, productive environment.  Google's Zen Master Chade-Meng Tan has written a book on the subject called Search Inside Yourself

It is an impossible feat for start-ups to match the perks of large companies pound-for-pound, yet employee productivity is absolutely crucial towards a start-up's success.  A rock climbing wall cost money, but allowing employees to bring their dog to work nets high results with minimal investment.  Stocking the company fridge and cabinets with yogurt, nuts and fruits requires a couple Costco trips a month, but this is a descent start towards creating the "ultimate productive environment".  Nutritional vending machines are also an alternative if an additional grocery bill is too daunting.  The machines (should) cost zero dollars but employees will need to save their spare change.  Begin with a couple of productivity boosters and as your company grows continue to implement new ideas.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kriss July 3, 2013 at 12:12 am

Another great posting and spot on!

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