Why pizza lunches, corporate schwag, and company picnics will not win the hearts and minds of your employees 

Free cars. On-sight laundry. Subsidised lunch. Prizes for performance. These all sound great, but are they really that helpful in engaging employees and bringing out the best in their talents? As a matter of fact, they might not be all they’re cracked up to be.

Perks and bonuses can make employees happy and help them feel valued for their contributions, but they’re really only effective as part of a larger company culture that prioritises engagement. Many companies even find it unnecessary to offer wild perks if they have a healthy work environment in place.

Lasting engagement, not perks and prizes
PRWeek described how a number of organizations are eschewing perks in favor of a more comprehensive focus on company culture and employee engagement. Added bonuses can be a component of this process, but the efficacy of these prizes must be carefully evaluated to ensure they don’t do more harm than good. W2O Group principal Gary Grates told the source that some perks can even backfire: Sabbaticals, for example, can lead to employees joining a company and sticking around just long enough to cash in on the prize.

“You don’t have to offer perks for the sake of it,” Grates said. “If the perks enhance the experiences of employees and they are complementary or supplementary to what the corporate environment is, then that is when they really matter.”

In general, companies should avoid putting too much attention on prizes that employees can earn. It’s much better to have programs that capture employees’ loyalty and foster interest in the company’s wider successes.

Focusing on values and culture
Ben Carter, VP of compensation and benefits at Texas Instruments, explained to PRWeek that the company focuses on culture, instead of extra perks, to draw well-suited talent and engage employees. Rather than motivating behavior with a carrot as a prize, the business aims to orient its team members toward the end-goal, fueling their passion and investment by getting them involved in challenging, innovative projects with teams full of diverse, energised people.

“If you go to a workplace every day that offers free lunch and massages, but don’t enjoy what you do, those perks do not really matter,” Carter told the source.

That’s why it’s critical to form a strong company culture around core values and character. The organisation’s missions and values should be incorporated into day-to-day business operations and employee relationships, with an aim to get employees on board with goals. As Forbes magazine noted, a few key behaviors can have a much greater impact on the overall success of the company. Using perks to motivate performance to reach quotas or milestones can be effective, but it likely won’t help with employee retention, creativity or collaboration, all of which are essential business strategies. Culture, Forbes continued, draws out energy reserves, guides decision-making and bolsters sustainability.

Similarly, Entrepreneur emphasised that culture should be an integral part of a business. The most effective company cultures tend to draw on the organisation’s core values, embodying them in how employees are treated and interact with one another. With intentional hiring and good management, team members embrace the culture and thrive in the supportive environment.

Are you making progress?
To evaluate how their organisation is doing in terms of workplace environment and company culture, managers can solicit staff feedback. According to PRWeek, Dell’s director of corporate communication found that the most valuable initiative to employees was one that impacted their day-to-day activities: Connected Workplace, which enabled employees to take advantage of mobile working options. By recognising what factors are most meaningful to employees – usually the ones that help them do their jobs better and more efficiently – companies can cut the fat and focus on the perks that truly matter.

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The following was written by Steven Green from TemboSocial

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