Corporate Culture: Perks That Work

Many companies have perks as part of their corporate culture. Are perks effective for employee morale? In a recent chat for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, host Kelley Plats from North American Coating Laboratories in Ohio hosted a discussion about perks that work in a corporate environment.

Favorite Perks

The discussion began with participants sharing their favorite perk provided by the company they work for.

Nigel Packer from Pelatis Online in Wales, UK said, “Working from home and being able to go out and walk the local beaches whenever I want, provided my diary is free. (I book them in).”

Nathan Dube from Industrial Packaging in Massachusetts said, “Working from home, fully remote about 90% of the time.”

Whitney Koch from Welker, Inc. in Texas said, “It’s not really a provided perk, but I appreciate how flexible my manager is. Such a blessing when you have kids!”

Julie Basello from Radwell International in New Jersey said, “That is so important.”

Dan Bigger from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “Working remotely.”

John Buglino from Optessa Inc. in New Jersey said, “Our employees like the 'work from anywhere' option.”

Missy Moorefield from Southern Fasteners & Supply in North Carolina said, “Bringing my dogs to work! If I start having a bad day, I find one of my fur babies (or a coworker's fur baby) and get doggy kisses.”

Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “That's nice!”

She added, “Vacations!”

Gina Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “I work from home all but 2 days per month, but my fave perk is the people. I cannot tell you what a healthy, loving culture we have. That is worth everything.”

Koch said, “Love to hear this!”

Emily Kite from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries in Illinois said, “Being able to work hybrid!”

David Crysler from The Crysler Club in Michigan said, “Random time with my family because I mostly work from home these days!”

Sue Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing Industries said, “Flexibility and paid time off!”

Host Plats said, “Snackin’ Thursdays! An all-day graze for the team!”


Benefit v. Perk

The discussion kicked off with participants sharing their thoughts on the difference between a benefit and a perk.

Rusine said, “A benefit is something that is owed to people by law or contract. A perk is something that a company offers employees, but is not required.”

Koch said, “I like how you answered this, Ruby! I agree.”

Jasmine Labelle from velavu in Canada said, “From my understanding, a benefit is meant to enhance the persons salary while a perk is more of a “nice to have” or additional incentive.”

Host Plats said, “That's an excellent way to put it! Right on the money!”

Nordman said, “In my head, I think of it as this - a benefit has a defined value and perk is like a bonus.”

Bigger said, “A benefit is something on the books for all. A perk is an extra "favor" granted and not to all.”

Buglino said, “Benefits are owed in a contract - perks can come and go (or never even exist)”

Michelle Riccetto from Brash Inc in Canada said, “A benefit would be something that is included in your package when you sign your contract while a perk is an added incentive. For example, a perk could be complementary snacks in the break room.”

Tabasso said, “A benefit is something you are owed and that is standard like PTO and medical insurance. A perk is that extra special something above and beyond the norm.”

employee-benefits-graphicBrett from FreightPOP in California said, “I think a benefit is something that is clearly provided by the company, such as good health insurance, while perks vary from person to person, like living close to your workplace or having your favorite restaurant for lunch across the street.”

Kite said, “I think of a benefit more like something they are entitled to as part of their package for employment. I think of perk is just added bonuses that maybe aren't all the time but are offered.”

Packer said, “A benefit is negotiated and has monetary value. A perk has no great financial value but has very high wellbeing value.”

Koch said, “Wellbeing value-I like that!”

Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “A benefit enhances an employee's salary while perks are additional incentives only.”

Host Plats said, “Benefits are part of your non-cash compensation (insurance, PTO, Retirement Plans). Perks are the added bonuses! If you pay for it, it’s not a perk!”

She continued, “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Benefits feed physiological and safety, Perks feed social, esteem, and self-actualization. Companies that can offer both have higher employee fulfilment – important for retention!”


The Importance of Perks

The discussion continued with participants sharing why perks are important.

Koch said, “Perks show your employees that you care about them and think about their needs beyond a paycheck.”

Bigger said, “They build loyalty and reward a job well done or consistency with employees service to the company.”

Buglino said, “Surprise and delight!! It can also be a differentiator when hiring talent!”

Kite said, “Perks can help employees feel appreciated and thought of.”

Rusine said, “Employers give perks because it makes the workers feel important and appreciated. Perks can encourage employees to stay longer in a company.”

Dube said, “Perks help employees to engage with one another, your company and brand. For example, when a company buys lunch for their employees, breaking bread together builds rapport and positive relationships within the organization.”

Brett said, “Perks keep employees happy! When you know your company is going above and beyond to keep you happy and let you know how valued you are, you are more invested in the quality of your work. It's a positive loop!”

VirtuDesk said, “Perks make the working environment more enjoyable and comfortable for the employee. It also enhances customer retention especially, if you are the only company that offers it.”

Riccetto said, “Overall it keeps employees happy and makes them excited to come to work! No better feeling than knowing you are appreciated.”

Bill Garland said, “Even the best jobs can get boring. Surprise gifts, extra time off, or other unexpected reward keeps things fresh.”

Packer said, “When an employee gets a perk, they feel valued and appreciated by the business. Small gestures return high dividends.”

Moorefield said, “Perks help to boost morale.”

Nordman said, “Perks create feel good feelings, positive energy, good culture. When people feel good and valued, they will perform better. It's a win-win situation.”

Host Plats said, “Increased Company Loyalty, Increased Job Satisfaction, Lower Attrition, Increased Productivity, Increased Morale!”

She continued, “Engagement is the key here! When people feel connected to where they work, what they do, and the teams they work with, you will see the results of those perks.”

Rusine said, “I agree! A healthy company culture gives space for workers to build connections with one another & provides a safe environment for the workers, too.”


Tangible v. Intangible Perks

Participants next shared an example of a tangible perk and an intangible perk.

Host Plats said, “I'll admit this one is a bit tougher and abstract...”

Bigger said, “Tangible: Bonus check/holiday bonus Intangible: Extra vacation time/time off.”

Moorefield said, “This is exactly what popped into my head!”

Buglino said, “Tangible: Free coffee/snacks Intangible: Unlimited PTO/Sick Days”

Packer said, “Tangible Perk = Snack Thursday. Intangible perk = A smile and a thank you.”

Tabasso said, “Gosh, a smile and a thank you should be a given not a perk.”

Packer said, “You would be surprised. I worked in one engineering company where HR director would come in every day and announce "Who am I going to sack today". Needless to say they had a high turnover of staff.”

Koch said, “Intangible makes me think it has something to do with how an employee feels while at work, does that make sense? Tangible: Casual dress”

Garden said, “A tangible perk could be a bonus or a company lunch. Intangible: flexible work schedule, training in a desired skill, going home early on a Friday.”

Rusine said, “Tangible: Salary raise, free lunch, free transpo, gym memberships, child-care services Intangible: appreciation & recognition, work-life balance, flexi-hours.”

Garland said, “Great examples.”

He continued, “A tangible perk could be a bonus or a company lunch. Intangible: flexible work schedule, training in a desired skill, going home early on a Friday.”

Rusine said, “Going home early on a Friday is definitely a great bonus!”

staff-perks-hands-chalkboardKirsten Austen from DCSC Inc. in Missouri said, “I'm guessing this but might make a fool out of myself. Tangible? I put all sorts of snacks & drinks in the kitchen for our peeps. Intangible? When I see someone working really super hard, I thank them & give extra time off on top of what vaca/sick pay earned.”

Labelle said, “A tangible perk would be free snacks in breakroom etc. An intangible perk would be remote work!”

Nordman said, “Tangible perk: cash bonus, new coffee mug Intangible perk: reserved parking spot for a week, leaving early for vacation/holiday.”

Riccetto said, “Tangible, going out for a company lunch or field trip! Intangible would be hybrid work, choosing your own schedule or flex Friday’s (like we do here at Brash)!”

Tabasso said, “Tangible (holiday bonus or summer vacation bonus) and intangible (leave when you need for the doctor or flex hours)”

Host Plats said, “Tangibles: free food/snacks/coffee, Arcade Games/Pool Table, WFH/Hybrid Work, holiday parties, team outings. Intangibles: Flexible work hours/flex time, professional development, management supportive of work-life balance, autonomy/decision making authority.”

She continued, “These perks are useless unless management and leadership encourage and support the use of perks! What’s the point of perks if your teams are afraid to use them?”


How to Improve Perks Offered

Next participants shared their thoughts on what leaders can do to improve the perks offered in their workplace.

Bigger said, “Talk to them. I can't believe that this step is missed so often.”

Rusine said, “I think many leaders (not all) just assume what's good for the workers without consulting them. And that is sad.”

Bigger said, “Assuming things does not translate to the right answer. More often than not, it is not the answer and actually makes things worse I am and always will be a firm believer in conversation That is the ONLY way to get everyone on the same page and to get things done.”

Moorefield said, “I always say that communication is key!”

Rebecca Prox, Digital Marketing Professional from Wisconsin said, “Talking is so underrated. People really need to learn the art of conversation again.”

Bigger said, “EVERY RELATIONSHIP IS A 2 WAY STREET. Once that balance is lost, it begins to fail Just sayin’”

Bigger said, “I have a hard time getting people on the phone, including my family. Everyone wants to text and email. That leads to misinterpretation of things. I have years of data.”

Moorefield said, “Listen to the employees. What are some conversations and/or complaints going around the office? Those topics will give leaders an idea of what might be a good perk.”

Buglino said, “Ask what employees might like and implement a few!”

Tabasso said, “Get creative and also give people what they actually want, not another hoodie or an evening dinner after work. People want time and money.”

Buglino said, “I like hoodies (wearing one now).”

Tabasso said, “I don't want more branded stuff to be a walking billboard.”

Rusine said, “Leaders may think about offering additional perks like flexible schedules, remote work, & perks that can lower stress (if these are not yet given). It's important to consult your workers about this. They'd know.”

Brett said, “Being approachable/actually listening to your employees and let them know they are being heard! Even little things, like providing free snacks and a comfortable work environment go a long way!”

Packer said, “Learn something about your people. My focus is customer experience. You can apply the same principles to employees, Walk in their shoes and feel the pain of their journey. Resolve the issues, keep the employee.”

Riccetto said, “Talk to your employees, and ask them what they want! A small example here, but every time our managing partner makes a Nespresso pod order he asks our team what kind of pods they'd like! A small but appreciated gesture.”  

Koch said, “That is so considerate! Love that.”

Rusine said, “What a great example- even in little things, when it's practiced, workers will feel that what they want and need is important to the leader.”

Garland said, “Besides reviewing this chat, figure out what your team really needs beyond a paycheck. Cross-training and empowering flexible work arrangements opened a lot of doors for me as a process engineer and a manager.”

Nordman said, “As a leader, I try to put myself in my employee's shoes & make some decisions based on that viewpoint. I can't always do everything that I'd like or they want me to, but I hope that they know their best interests are at the forefront.”

Kite said, “I think asking the employee's what they would like to see would be the best idea.”

Host Plats said, “Ask their teams what perks they’d like to have/see!”

She continued, “While you may not implement every perk given, you will have a better understanding of what is important to teams. More importantly you know what perks are not valued. If management catches themselves asking “why aren’t people happy, we offer great perks” and no one is using them, perks work against you as employees don’t feel seen!”


The Effectiveness of Intangible Perks

Participants then shared why they think intangible perks are more effective in promoting positive organizational culture.

Rusine said, “These perks are connected to one’s emotional response to their working environment. When employees are happy and contented in their work, they become more productive & fulfilled. Your company culture becomes a healthy and a safe place for your workers.”

Riccetto said, “Yes exactly! Well said.”

Buglino said, “They are often unique to your company (in some ways) It also shows that your company will go above/beyond for its employees.”

Garland said, “To do this well, you really have to know your team. It allows for a very personal touch & it can be very meaningful. One of my team members needed 5 days to mourn her brother instead of 3. She did not expect to get the two extra days but I made sure she got them.”

Rusine said, “That's a really considerate action for your employee. I believe she will remember and treasure that for a long time.”

Prox said, “I imagine it has something to do with longevity. A free cookie only lasts a few minutes, but remote work or extra time off lasts longer.”

Bigger said, “Flat out, bar none, they just mean more. Giving someone money or something doesn't always lead to appreciation. It's the little things that do.”

Koch said, “Intangible perks give you positive feelings about your employer and coworkers and can be a driving force in retention and referrals.”

Host Plats said, “These are the most directly related to the need for esteem and self-actualization. While pizza parties, snacks, and games are awesome breaks from the day, they do not compare to the overall effect of empowering employees to take ownership and providing them the tools and resources to be effective.”

She continued, “This is beyond the standard training to do the job function. This refers to extra development done. For example – continuing education, management training, committees.”


Wish List for Perks or Benefits

The discussion concluded with what perks or benefits participants wished their company would provide.

Bigger said, “That is a great question that I do not have an answer to at the moment.”

Rusine said, “That's a hard one! Free travel to a dream destination!”

Koch said, “I wish hybrid was an option for all office employees.”

Tabasso said, “Reimburse for internet since we work from home.”

Host Plats said, “That's a good one!”

Tabasso said, “They pay for our cell phones; so, why not? An office tool is an office tool.”

Prox said, “Hmmm... I can't think of anything at the moment. My company offers more than any other company I've ever been with. They'll have me until retirement if they keep this up!”



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