October 29, 2013

It’s all about the perks

Spending time with family and friends is the greatest perk of all.

Spending time with family and friends is the greatest perk of all.

Not so long ago, a company would lure a potential employee with a competitive salary and medical benefits. These days, companies have new ammunition — perks. Perks represent the “value” employers put on their employees. But they also have a potentially darker side.

Salary.com recently posted an article about 14 companies that offer incredible employee perks. At first blush, they all sounded amazing and of course my employer should adopt all of them immediately. But it became clear that these perks were about keeping the employee onsite. Free lunches and dinners, yoga, a playroom, childcare, on-site gyms, on-site concierges to handle life’s chores — everything a working stiff might need to get through the day, right outside his or her office door.

It is smart. And it creates the impression that the employer cares enough to create such wonderful accommodations. But I don’t want to eat dinner at work. I like being able to leave my office at a decent time and spend much-needed time at home with my family. When I’m at work I work, and when the workday is done, so am I. I’ll do my dry cleaning on my own time, thank you.

Aloysius Butler & Clark does a nice job of fostering a culture that balances work and home life. That is a true benefit that people rarely recognize. And as much as these companies think they are giving “value” to their employees, some may be taking advantage. Valuing an employee means understanding that it is OK for work to end and for an employee to leave the building to take care of his or her life; it means recognizing and respecting the value of each employee’s time. I’d be willing to bet that, for most people, being able to spend time with family and friends is the greatest perk of all!