Should Your Startup Offer Employee Perks?


Most people read or hear secondhand tales about the crazy perks that some startups offer, like manicures, live music, and even foreign trips. Of course, most startups don’t offer perks quite that crazy, but they may offer in-house gym or free snacks in the kitchen.

While these perks seem like an obvious boon for employee morale, it’s not always obvious that they actually make a meaningful difference at a startup company. After all, even if there is a ping-pong table, how much time can people really spend with it?

If you’re wondering if your startup should offer employee perks, keep reading for tips offering sane employee perks.

Perk Benefits

Perks do offer a startup company some benefits. A long list of perks certainly acts as a nice incentive when you court an excellent candidate. If you keep a game room and their other top choice doesn’t, that might make the difference.

It’s also a way you can signal recruits that you care about employee well-being. Although, you can probably adopt other methods for current employees that will gain you more ground with them.

Certain perks can actually help employee morale, such as healthy snacks. While employees might prefer candy bars and chips, fruit and other healthy options support their physical health and mental acuity.

Perk Pitfalls

One of the biggest pitfalls with offering perks is that employees come to see them as entitlements that go with their job. Yet, perks are a discretionary benefit that any company offers. That can become a real problem if a budget crunch forces you to cut back on perks like free meals or in-house massages.

Perks can also act like social hooks that keep people at work for longer than they need to stay. While that may sound great on the surface, it can prompt an unhealthy work-life balance.

That kind of imbalance inevitably leads to a dissatisfied workforce, even if they can’t pin down the exact reasons.

Perks versus Employee Benefits

For many potential employees, they care more about your employee benefits package than they do about the perks. Many would prefer better healthcare coverage or retirement account matching than catered meals.

After all, consider how many millennials are at the stage in their life where they’re raising families or seriously looking toward funding their retirement.

That isn’t a knock on perks, but you should give serious consideration to how your benefits stack up in terms of your budget compared with your perks.

Should You Offer Employee Perks?

The question of whether you should or shouldn’t offer perks depends a lot on their function. Perks can serve as a recruitment tool that shows you care about employees. For your actual employees though, benefits might prove a more valuable incentive.

The WSJ has a quick read which sheds light on to why perks are simply not enough. At this point, we all consider it a given that we are going to receive some kind of perk – but it’s not what make the difference anymore. The key: a sense of belonging. That’s what really sways us when choosing and staying at a workplace.

On the other hand, the guys over at Clutch make the case that employee perks do matter, and they make a difference. They state some interesting findings which seem to indicate that perks are highly valued by employees.

More than half (53%) of those who do have employee perks say that those perks give them a better quality of life, meaning that employees value their perks. – study

However, the perks they list are not the Silicon Valley stereotypes: swag, naps, ping pong tables, laundry and other freebies. The perks that appear to be valued centre around flexible working hours, remote working, wellness programs, professional development. It makes sense, since all these perks show you that an employer cares about how to make you most comfortable in order to produce your best work.

Looking for more information on offering employee perks? Check out our other post that examines whether perks are enough.

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