Workplace Perks : Gimmick? or Goldmine of productivity?

The workplace perk can take many forms. From air hockey tables to beers on a Friday, early finishes, social events and free pizzas, there seems to be no limit to what one can look like. But before we disappear in a cloud of cynicism and dismiss every one of them as mere gimmick, we started to ask ourselves a few questions. Questions like:

 

“What is the point of the perk?”

 

“Are these extras always borne out of sheer employer benevolence?”

 

“Are they just easy “bolt-ons” to appear more attractive in an increasingly competitive job market?”

 

“Is there some science (and sense) behind the trend?”

 

We’ve adopted several different employee benefits (not all of them listed here). Some of our perks have been initiated by management, some suggested by employees, all of them backed by sound research which has happily affirmed our decision to introduce them. Here are just a few :

Free Fruit

Fruit is a relatively inexpensive workplace perk that benefits our employees in more ways than one. Most of us know that it’s good to eat fresh fruit and veg throughout the day, but how many of us remember to bring it from home, or purposefully buy some at lunchtime? In our office we have an accessible stash that is replenished regularly (no fancy scheme, just a regular trip to a local supermarket) and benefits all of us in the following ways:

  • Full of vitamins & minerals, fresh fruit helps to ward of seasonal coughs and colds, enables quicker recovery from the dreaded bugs, strengthens heart and muscles, and is rich in fiber which aids the digestive system and lowers risk of diabetes.
  • By snacking on the good stuff, the temptation to indulge in unhealthy snacks is reduced. It’s well know that eating plenty of fruit and veg helps to decrease obesity rates thereby decreasing the risk of developing cancer.
  • Fruit helps to boost your energy levels and focus. The natural, unprocessed sugar in fruit will help you stay active throughout the day without the slumps that come from eating sweet processed snacks. Vitamin C boosts mental agility and reduces decline in the brain’s cognitive abilities.

Ride to work scheme

The cycle/ride to work scheme allows employees to spend up to £1000 on bikes and equipment tax-free via salary sacrifice, making potential savings of up to 42% per cent on the overall value. Not only do employees save money, but the employer too. Typically, organisations can save 13.8% of the total value of the salary sacrifice because of reductions in the amount of National Insurance Contributions due. (Facts and figures from Cycling weekly).

In addition to the monetary benefits, another obvious coo is improved physical fitness which in turn improves brain function and productivity. Research shows that regular moderate exercise can help “prevent cognitive declinesharpen memory and learning, and improve overall brain performance.” Cycling is also known to have a positive effect on mental and emotional health. Most of us could agree that fresh air and exercise is preferable to sitting on a crowded bus or in a traffic jam, but regular exercise is not just a matter preference. It’s shown to reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, improve sleep, reduce anxiety, boost self-confidence and improve overall mood.

Birthdays off work

This is probably the most whimsical of our own workplace perks. Every employee is allowed to take their birthday off work if it falls on a regular working day for them. No salary sacrifice or annual leave necessary. We want our employees to celebrate and invest in themselves, and afterwards to come back to work energised and feeling appreciated. According to the social market foundation Happy employees are 12 to 20% more productive; what better way to boost employee happiness than to give them a day off on their birthday, just because?

What doesn’t work for us

Whilst we might like to introduce beers on a Friday, we’re not sure the law would take kindly to our delivery drivers going out on the road half-cut! In addition, our workforce can be spread far and wide so some ideas just won’t benefit everyone that we employ. This is a tough conundrum to tackle. We have to consider lots of different working practices, and we know each business out there is different too. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution.

But, here is our conclusion. At Ben Johnson, we believe a perk can and should be mutually beneficial to the employee and the employer. Whether through promoting a healthy lifestyle and increasing energy levels, or rewarding hard work and letting our team know they are valued, we want our team to come to work and be their best creative & motivated selves. A Perk is one way to encourage and build on that culture.