Why perks don’t always translate into happier workers

by L&D14 Nov 2016
A recent article in CIO says it may be time for organisations to ditch company culture and focus more on employee experience.
The article points to a two-year study by Gallup of the American Workplace, which found that as much as 70% of the US workforce is not engaged at work.

 And this trend isn’t a recent one. The report indicates that over the past 15 years, engagement has consistently held under 33%.

“Engagement is often tied to company culture -- the idea being that providing the right perks and environment for your workers will boost engagement. But the stats suggest that the past few years of focusing on company culture hasn't done much to boost engagement,” the article stated.
Aye Moah, chief of product at Boomerang – a company focused on productivity software – told CIO that a company's culture “is the atmosphere that results from the collective actions and attitudes of employees in the workplace, whereas employee experience is specific to each person”.

The article continues:

“Employee experience is about the day-to-day workplace, relationships between co-workers and your employees’ values and goals. Alternatively, culture is more about benefits and perks, like flexible work schedules or unlimited PTO and free food in the break room.”

Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm, told CIO that his company will do something as simple as get everyone together for an ice cream break or to celebrate an employee's work anniversary with balloons, streamers and photos.
Gimbel says companies make a mistake when they assume employees want a ping pong table at work or perks like pet insurance. It might make workers temporarily happy, but in the long run it won't do much to influence engagement. Instead, focus on bonding with your employees, getting to know them and supporting them in their personal and professional lives.
As Moah's office is small, her company will typically rent a big house that can fit everyone comfortably. She says they don't want to book hotels because of the potential for seclusion with individual rooms and out of a desire to avoid “windowless conference rooms when it's time to work.”
“We like to choose a house that has a great view and preferably an outdoor area for us to work in,” she said.
“The house we stayed in our most recent ‘work-away’ trip to Switzerland had a giant outdoor patio with a table where we could all sit to discuss or eat a meal. A lot of our trip involves cooking together and eating together, which also saves money since we're not buying meals out at restaurants.”
Creating a fun, lasting experience that will help employees bond can mean more than a “bring your dog to work day.” It doesn't have to be extravagant; it just has to blend the right mix of fun, work and relaxation to leave employees feeling closer and invigorated.