When they asked the survey pool to describe five more perks or benefits that would increase their engagement, they expressed benefits related to increasing their quality of life.
What is missing from these lists? Obviously, there is a set of perks and benefits that impact an employees engagement at work, but as you can see, the excessive focus on creating new and exciting incentives and experiences at work are not having a positive impact on engagement.
In fact, some authors such as Jason Fried who wrote: “Work doesn’t have to be Crazy”, “Rework” and “Remote” states that these perks and benefits actually have a negative effect on engagement and productivity.
“Once you examine these [perks], they look a little less like benefits and more like hooks,” says Fried’s co-author, David Heinemeier Hansson. “It’s not that ping-pong tables aren’t nice in an abstract way, but they can also wreak havoc on everyone else in the office’s ability to get things done.”
He goes on to discuss that when an individual works in an environment that provides for everything you need, there is actually less balance between the personal and professional aspects of work.
“There is no line you can draw between free kombucha and people’s satisfaction in their job,” he says. “If the reason you’re attracted to your employer is that they have free cupcakes, there are a bunch more cultural issues you have to unpack.”
The data is clear that you cannot simply fix issues of disengagement by providing excessive perks and benefits. So what are the best practices for creating a package of perks and benefits that maximizes engagement?
1. Prioritize the benefits that matter most – Pay attention to the Gallup data and other sources that rank the most important benefits to focus on. Prioritize providing benefits that fall into two major buckets: providing for employees basic needs and benefits that help to create a higher quality of life.
2. Listen to your people – Get yourself and your team into a regular cycle of measuring and discussing the level of engagement across your organization. You may discover that there are much bigger issues to be solved than creating new benefit programs.
3. Be Thoughtful – As we will discuss in later posts, all of us desire to make our highest and best contribution at work. Many of the excessive perks and benefits that companies employ actually create more involuntary distractions that take people away from having time to do meaningful work. Remember, that simply having “fun” at work is not what makes a highly engaged workforce. Be thoughtful about how potential new perks and benefits may affect your whole team.
It is clear that if we are going to truly understand the challenge of engagement in the workforce, we are going to have to look much deeper than generational differences, stop point fingers at our HR departments, recognize that all positions across an organization are at risk of disengagement, and that we cannot simply fix the problem by proving an excessive amount of perks and benefits.
Join us next week to discuss our final myth about America’s Engagement Epidemic.