It seems like every job description these days, along with its catalog of job duties and experience requirements, comes along with an extensive list of “perks.” Free bagels on Fridays. Unlimited snacks. Beer on tap. Foosball table. So, what’s the deal with perks anyway? Are they really the best way to attract millennials or should we start telling companies to cut the shit?
Glassdoor, the site that allows users to anonymously review their current and previous employers, conducted a survey last year and found that “89% of younger employees (age 18-34 prefer benefits or perks over a pay raise). “My response: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Is this real life?
I’m not just talking basic benefits like health insurance and a retirement savings plan. It’s a no-brainer that many millennials would probably be better off with an employer offering health coverage rather than giving them a pay raise and asking them to fend for themselves on the health care exchange. In fact, I wouldn’t even really consider health coverage and retirement savings plans “perks” in the first place.
What really shocked me about Glassdoor’s survey was that many people ranked perks like free lunch, work from home days, casual dress codes, and gym memberships above a pay raise. Sure, some of these things may have monetary value and can be considered part of your total compensation. However, we hear so much about people working longer hours while their real wages are declining and they drown in student debt. It’s got to make us wonder, is that foosball table really worth anything?
Maybe it’s time to send a message to employers. If you are really set on offering more in order to retain good employees, focus on the things we actually need. Stop offering worthless perks and start offering real benefits: Pay raises that keep up with inflation (at the very least), healthcare, retirement savings, and sick leave are always a good place to start. But why stop there? Paid family leave and student loan repayment benefits could truly help your employees.
Essentially, keep your beer on tap and just let me go home at night.
So tell me, what do you think about employee perks? Are they worth it? Or is time for employers to stop trying to distract us and start paying up?
Photo by Joshua Coleman