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The modernisation of perks

Written by | Posted on 17.09.2015
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What was it that attracted you to your current job? Was is the work itself? Was it the pay packet? Or – be honest – was it the chance to play Call of Duty on the PlayStation 4 installed in the office’s games room?

Okay, not many people will choose the last one – but the importance of company perks, those benefits that employers provide beyond the paid work, shouldn’t be underestimated. According the American research group TechnologyAdvice, 56 per cent of employees say that perks are very or moderately important to them when they’re weighing up prospective jobs.

And, as it happens, games are one of the favourite perks. They’re in the top ten, according to another recent survey by the organisers of the Employee Benefits Live show that takes place in London next week. Here’s the full list:

1. Unlimited annual leave.
2. Flexi hours.
3. Games room.
4. Fruit deliveries.
5. Enhanced benefits for mums and dads.
6. Casual dress code.
7. Jumbo pension contributions.
8. Workplace massage and yoga.
9. Free company shares.
10. Siesta room.

The first thing that stands out from the list is how many of the perks are basically compensation for workers not being at home. Either they give more time at home, as in the case of unlimited annual leave or flexi-hours. Or they replicate some of the comforts of home, as in the case of the games room or casual dress code. The idea of an office as some grey dungeon where we’re chained for most of the week is receding. We want something more comfortable than that.

The second thing that stands out is just how modern many of these perks are. How Google. Our parents and grandparents may have hankered for company shares and more generous pensions, but workplace yoga sessions? A siesta room? Our expectations have changed over time, and not just because of changing fashions, but also, surely, because of what we’ve become accustomed to. Once upon a time, a company car might have topped that list. But we’ve got those now. There are other perks to covet.

As strange as this Brave New World may appear, it actually makes a lot of sense. Netflix was one of the companies that pioneered the top perk on the list, unlimited annual leave – and it has prospered. They recognised, as their employees did, that office time isn’t really the same as it used to be. We reply to emails on the train, we open our laptops at the weekend, we want to pick up the kids from school. If this sort of flexibility is written into our working days, why not our holidays? What matters is quality work, done on time. So long as that criterion is met, then holiday away!

These are developments that companies should be alive to. In the competition for the brightest and the best, perks can be the determining factor.

Perks are where it’s at, whether it’s a car in exchange for salary or a ping pong table in the games room, and that’s why this year LeasePlan will be one of exhibitors at the Employee Benefits Live show – we want to learn and teach as best we can.

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