Developing a Learning Culture

More Than Ping Pong: Employee Benefits That Actually Work

It’s a startup tale as old as time: a new company gets funding. The New company overspends funding on unnecessary stuff (i.e. employee benefits that don’t work). The New company loses funding and becomes a Silicon Valley cautionary tale.

While we can’t make sweeping generalizations about every failed startup, we can pinpoint one of the major problems affecting small businesses that receive big funding: Employee benefits. After all, how many times have you heard about companies offering ping pong tables in the break room, or beanbag chair workstations that promise to attract and keep employees? Not only are these so-called benefits expensive, but they don’t actually work to motivate workers.

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Here’s the thing: most common employee perks only motivate extrinsically. Sure, a cereal bar might be a cool novelty at first, but if your company culture is lacking, there’s always another place offering even cooler perks. By focusing on motivating employees intrinsically, you can skip the ping pong games and get down to business.

The Fight for Talent

It’s a hyper-competitive world out there and the fight for talent is fierce. But while some companies spend big bucks to attract talent with superficial perks, the idea is flawed. After all, do you really want to spend the onboarding and training dollars on a potential employee who can be wooed with something like unlimited Red Bull?

Too often, cosmetic employee benefits are a misdirection tactic from areas in which a company is lacking. Savvy talent easily recognizes the organization’s failings and, when it’s realized that management is disorganized and talent management is nonexistent, the best and brightest are the first to leave. What’s left are the employees content to nosh on free snacks in lieu of a healthy, progressive, nurturing working environment.

The Right Perks

Throw out your ping pong tables: the best way to motivate your employees isn’t with frat games, but a positive company culture, which can’t be built in the break room alone. When employees feel supported and celebrated, they won’t miss the superficial perks that eat up a significant part of your funding. Check out some of these low-cost, highly-effective perks employees actually want.

  •       Flexible work hours
  •       The ability to telecommute
  •       Adequate vacation and sick days
  •       Offsite activities
  •       Casual work environment
  •       Ergonomic work stations
  •       Open concept environment
  •       Visually stimulating art and décor

The problem with fast-and-furious startups is they mistakenly believe that money is the answer. Throw enough of it at a conflict, and it’ll resolve itself, right? But when it comes to employee motivation, it’s the time—not the money—that makes up the most worthwhile investment.

We can guarantee that as you put in the time to invest in your people, cultivate interpersonal relationships, increase mentoring and coaching opportunities, offer a transparent approach, and allow employees the room to be creative and successful, you’ll easily attract great talent. We know this because we’ve done it.

Stop playing games with your funding. The right talent sees past the silly perks and puts more stock in where they’re headed past break time. By offering amazing employee benefits that speak to employees’ aspirations and professional success, you don’t need to worry about becoming another startup sob story.