Perks that work
WHAT IS it that enthuses and motivates an employee to work harder?
This is one question that fascinated and confounded many an employer till a bright chap came up with the idea of adding perks to regular wage system in the hope of boosting worker morale and productivity. They have been around for a long time now, what with the daily grind becoming increasingly tougher and more stressful. A perk that allows employees to enjoy a better work-life balance is a significant attraction. Many people willingly forego a hike in pay for a better quality of life. From the truly bizarre, to the hackneyed run-of-the mill kind, employers try every sort of bait to retain loyal and talented staff. But, what is it that the employees want? Hard cash, time offs, or career enhancement opportunities? Or is it club memberships, happy hours or salsa lessons? Well, to be honest, it depends.
According to a report, the change in priorities, and thereby the value for a certain kind of perk (from the employee's point of view) is directly related to his or her age. For the younger lot, cash remains the single most important factor, along with a flexible pay structure and tax benefits. Understandably, work-life balance pales in comparison to the lure of hard cash for those below the age of 28. The middle-aged, for example, seek benefits such as company-paid vacations, asset-building loans, overseas visits and medical and insurance cover for self and family essentially non-cash incentives that have cash value. Senior people on the other hand are concerned about retirement benefits. Here are some of the most popular and frequently asked for perks that seem to be a major draw-factor for employees.
Flexi-timing is one the most popular incentives across age groups. It allows employees to set their own schedules, without affecting the productivity of the employee. Telecommuting is yet another preferred option. - As long as the employees know what they need to deliver, they can mould their working hours and conditions to suit their personal preference. With the advent of broadband technology, employees can also telecommute and work from home.
Many companies do have career advancement policies and extend learning opportunities, including paid training, tuition reimbursement, or reduced cost for college classes.
Voluntary benefits - for which the employee pays all or most of the cost - allow employers to provide easy, convenient and affordable access to a range of financial and group insurance products to the employee. The most common voluntary benefits employers offer include optional term life insurance, long-term care insurance and auto and homeowners insurance. Seasonal tax assistance, retirement planning and vision benefits are also gaining popularity. Often, these are offered with group rates and other advantages that might not be available to employees if they purchase the product individually.
In an effort to build a strong bond between the company and the employee's family, companies often opt for perks wherein families of employees are the beneficiaries.
Medicaid and insurance for the employee and family, educational assistance for children, concierge services and paid holidays are some other common incentives offered to make life easier for employees and their families.
Like everything else in life, perks too have a flip side. What works out well in one company may fail elsewhere. Here are some questions HR needs to ponder over before implementing any perk: "Does it benefit a significant portion of the staff?" "Does it fit our culture?" "Is it cost effective, and does it make good business sense?"
While they do ensure employee-loyalty, the fact remains that an employee simultaneously seeks an increase in his or her remuneration, and perks cannot completely substitute an increase in remuneration in the long run. In the end, attractive perks work only when they are cost effective and meet the company bottom line.
Send this article to Friends by